Sunday, March 18, 2007

1940 - A Startling Beginning

As 1940 opened Poland had been dismembered by Hitler and Stalin, Czechoslovakia and Austria had been aborbed by Germany and the forces of France and Britain faced the Germans during the Phoney War or "Sitzkrieg". Outwardly America was sitting back, but events around the world were being watched with interest and apprehension.
The pulps continued on their merry way with stories that had been bought long before the events in Europe unfolded, but even then, the writers were not oblivious to world events.
The January, 1940, issue of Startling Stories featured an uncredited cover, possibly Brown, illustrating Oscar J. Friend's "Mind Over Matter". Review Of The Science Fiction Publications opened the issue. Titles covered were "Spaceways" by James Avery and Harry Warner, Jr.; Cosmic Tales from Louis and Gertrude Kuslan; Mikros by Russ Hodgkins; Voice Of The Imagi-Nation from Los Angeles fandom; Fantasy-News, a popular news zine from Taurasi, Giunta, Moscowitz and Racic out of New York; Escape by Dick Wilson; The Science Fiction Fan from Wiggins, Wollheim, Kirby and James M. Rogers; and Science Fiction Collector edited by John V. Baltadonis. Missing were any fanzines from Britain, hinting of things to come for the next five years.
Right at the end of the review column was an ad for a new sister publication, Captain Future.
Meet The Authors was by Edmond Hamilton and gave the thinking behind his latest novel.
This issue's novel was longer than usual, taking up most of the issue, The Three Planeteers by Edmond Hamilton. "From Earth, Venus and Mercury, an intrepid trio of space travelers rocket out in a grim battle against the League of the Cold Worlds." This was Space Opera at its best by a master of the genre. The illustrations were by Virgil Finlay.
"They Changed The World", Jack Binder's illustrated feature, was "The Life Story of Benjamin Franklin, The First Of Amarican Scientists". All of us oldsters owe Ben a debt for inventing bifocals.
The Ether Vibrates anounced that the cover story contest winner would be revealed in the next issue and that Thrilling Wonders Stories was now monthly. Letters this issue were from Willard E. Dewey singing the praises of Virgil Finlay; W. C. Pelham and Gordon L. Springer both requesting a reprint of Weinbaum's "The Valley Of Dreams"; Thomas S. Gardner praising novels; Loretta Beasley telling of her fondness for the departments; Alan Saun favoring Hamilton; E. Earl Bielfeldt favoring Williamson; Langley Searles offering numerous comments; and R. Bayless commenting on the low standards of many readers.
"Science Question Box" dealt with questions about water in the Sun, weight of the atmosphere and the laws of chance.
"Mind Over Matter" by Oscar J. Friend is the issue's only short story. I have not been able to identify the artist. The plot involves a pair of Martian twins attempting to end Earth's wars, hinting at the current situation in Europe and Asia.
In all, it's another good issue, continuing along the path started back in January of 1939.


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