Sunday, January 07, 2007

Still Startling The Second Time Around

The second issue of Startling Stories was dated March 1939. The cover illustrates the lead story, "The Impossible World" by Eando Binder. The artist is not identified. The use of reds and yellows certainly make the cover stand out and it's possible to imagine how eye-catching it would have been on the newsstand. It would need to be, considering the competition.
This issue contains an editorial entitled "Why Science Fiction?" by popular author John Taine (Eric Temple Bell, 1883-1960) whose works included "The Greatest Adventure" and "The Time Stream". Mr. Taine suggests that Science Fiction is a way to introduce people to Science and to, perhaps, increase interest in Science among the general public. In other words, sugar coat an unpopular topic. This idea was used by Gene Roddenberry a quarter of a century later in using the Science Fiction setting of Star Trek to address contemporary issues.
We leap to this issue's novel, "The Impossible World" by Eando ( the team of Earl and Otto Binder), with a great splash page by Virgil Finlay. "Vandals of the void dedicated to the conquest of nine planets, reach across infinity with science-sped armada". If that doesn't hook the reader, nothing will.
Next comes Jack Binder's illustrated feature "They Changed The World". This issue's subject is "Madame Curie who discovered Radium". Scientifiction's Hall Of Fame features "The Man From Mars" by P. Schuyler Miller, later known as one of the best SF book reviewers. This was originally published in Wonder Story Quarterly, Summer1931. The illustration is by Marchioni.
Mort Weisinger's "Thrills In Science" features thumbnail sketches of mathmatician Evariste Galois (I admit I've never heard of him), bacteriologist Elie Metchnikoff (ditto) and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (Him I've heard of).
Edmond Hamilton contributes the next short story, "The Fear Neutralizer". The illustration is signed, but I cannot make it out. Another feature follows, "The Science Question Box" where reader's questions about science are answered. The Gernsback influence was still being strongly felt here. Next comes "Turnabout" by Will Garth (a house name, this time Mort Weisinger), a short-short on one page.
Page 118 features the Scientific Crossword Puzzle. At the bottom of the page is the notation, "The solution is on Page 125--if you MUST look." Well, in 66 years no one worked the puzzle in this particular copy. Finally comes "The Ether Vibrates", the letter column. Writers this issue are Amelia Reynolds Long, Jack Williamson, P. Schuyler Miller, Ralph Milne Farley, Burt Schuyler, Charles L. Cottrell, Paul H. Spencer, Mark Reinsberg, Edward P. Hinchley, Walter E. Marconette, James V. Taurasi*, John Eckhardt, J. J. Demaree, Jack Lancaster, William Warchol, Ralph Smith, Robert A. Madle*, Willard Dewey, Lester Anderson, Harry Warner, Jr*, Frank Bryab, Jr, Robert Mastell, Charles A. Picki, Sam Yampolsky, Julius Pohl, Ronald Carter and Russell M. Wood. (* indicates a well-known, to me at least, fan.) Startling was very generous in the amount of space devoted to the letters.
Reviewing The Science Fiction Fan Publications features Novae Terrae (listing Arthur C. Clarke and William F. Temple as associate editors); Scienti-Snaps edited by Walter E. Marconette; Imagination, from the Los Angeles chapter of The Science Fiction League; New Fandom edited by Sam Moskowitz, William S. Sykora, Raymond Van Houten and James V. Taurasi (prominent names indeed); Fantascience Digest edited by even more fannish legends, Robert A. Madle, Jack Agnew, John V. Baltadonis and Willis C. Connover; D'Journal from the recently departed Bob Tucker; and Fantasy News by James V. Taurasi. In those days there were giants in the Earth.
And finally we have "Meet E(and)O Binder, with comments by the authors of the issue's lead story and accompanied by photographs.
All in all, Startling was following along with the promising start of their first issue, although Stanley G. Weinbaum was a hard act to follow.
If anyone reading this can identify the artists I was unable to the information will be greatly appreciated. Also, I recall reading that Mort Weisinger edited these early issues, but the memory grows weaker over the years. If anyone can fill me in, I will appreciate it.


Post a Comment