Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sure Looks Like Ming the Merciless

Startling Stories for September of 1941 features another Belarski cover with weird aliens, stalwart space soldiers, a real babe and Ming the Merciless's cousin lurking behind. It illustrates this issue's novel.

Making our way through the ads we see a new title added to the Better Publications stable, RAF Aces, for sale at the price of ten cents.

We leap into the novel The Bottom Of The World by John Coleman Burroughs (1913-1979) and Hulbert Burroughs (1909-1991), sons of the legendary creator or Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. "Dan Norris Invades a Fantastic Realm Far Below the Surface of His Native Planet! Thousands Vanish When a Weird Kidnapper Snatches West Coast Cities Off the Map!" Illustrations are by John Coleman Burroughs and are very attractive.

"Thrills in Science give us thumbnail sketches of Alfred Nobel, Orville Wright and Henry Moseley, whose work was cut short by his death in the disatrous Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

Back to fiction we have our first short story "Prisoners In Flatland" by Frank Belknap Long (1901-1994), noted member of the Lovecraft Circle. "Against the Back-Drop of the Starry Void, a Mighty Drama of Human Struggle Is Played Out in the Asteroid Belt." The illustration is by William A. Kolliker. (See my updated note in the posting for July 1941.)

The Scientifiction Hall of Fame story was selected by Robert W. Lowndes, "Death From The Stars" by A. Rowley Hilliard (---). "He wanted to experiment with a meteorite he found a strange disease." (The blurb is taken from its original appearance in 1931.) It was originally published in Wonder Stories for October 1931. The illustration is unsigned.
"No Heroes Wanted" by Robert Moore Williams (1907-1977) is the next short story. "Test Pilots Make News When they Test the Ships of Space-But Red Riley Makes History When A Spaceship Tests Him.!" The illustration is by Marchioni.
Science Question Box tackles electricity from the heart, precious gems, super gravity and chlorophyl.
The Ether Vibrates lurks on the next page, plugging The Gods Hate Kansas in the next issue. Sgt. Saturn also reports on the first Science Fiction convention held in Australia on April 13, 1941, with sixty-seven present. Then come the letters.
Frank Anderson of Seattle gripes about the way characters are clothed by the illustrators and complains about the recent stories by Fearn and Brackett. Flora Belle Mitchell of River Falls, Wisconsin praises the magazine. Walter Cadmus of Pittsburgh, Pa, just gripes about recent stories in general.David G. Miller likes the mag and wants to see more Virgil Finlay illustrations. Kay Duval, from Wellsboro, Pa., praises Sojarr Of Titan by Wellman and likes Bergey's art. R. D. Stathem of Australia is looking for someone to exchange magazines with since the Australian dollar has to be used for war materials. Theodore Lutz, no address given, wants a sequal to Friend's The Water World. Martin Alger, Mackinaw City, Mich., praises the magazine in general while Clifford Coleman from West Haven, Conn., likes Finlay and Bok, but not for Science Fiction; he prefers Schomburg, Wesso and others. Milton Lesser of Brooklyn lists all the novels in Startling to date in order of his preference. (Fans of this era certainly liked making lists.) Byron Kelham from Portland, Ore., fusses about a letter in a previous issue. Eugene L, Calewaert writes from Detroit likes Friend's novels and also likes Sergeant Saturn and mentions he may start his own fanzine.
C. Hidley from New York City contributes a very long letter about the artists, and cheers Wesso's improved illustrations. He also gives detailed opinions of several recent stories. Paul Carter. writing from Blackfoot, Idaho, complains that Belarski's cover did not properly illustrate Gateway To Paradise. In conclusion Joe J. Fortier, Oakland, Cal, writes to promote the Golden Gate Futurians and invites people to visit.
The Scientific Crossword Puzzle tempts the science fan with clues like "Chambered spore-bearing tissue within the closed sac of a gasteronycetous fungus".Looking at the answers in the back we see the word is 'Gleba'. I sure didn't know that one.
"Meet The Author" is missing from this issue, but we get to close out with "Review Of The Science Fiction Fan Publications". "Spaceways", a familiar title by now, leads the pack, written by Warner, Avery and Marconette. "Eclipse" comes from Detroit, edited by Richard J. Kuhn, Lynn Bridges and Rudy Sayn. "Snide" comes out of Salem, Oregon, written by Damon Knight and Bill Evans. The reviewer likes it very much, especially the parody of Captain Future. "Specula" is a Los Angeles 'zine, edited by Arthur Louis Joquel II and also receives kind words. "The Southern Star" is a rare fanzine from the South; Columbia, SC to be exact. Contributors are Joseph Gilbert, Art R. Schnert, Harry Jenkins, Fred Fischer, W. B. McQueen and Lee B. Eastman. "Fantasia" is from San Francisco and is edited by Lou Goldstone, George Cowie and Borrie Hyman. "Ultra" comes from Australia and is edited by E. F. Russell. And finally, Will Sykora's "Fantasy News" comes from New York. The reviewer calls it "A live-wire fan journal".
Another issue of Startling Stories comes to a close as we near the end of 1941. The war will soon intrude on the magazines the next year with rationing of paper, writers and readers joining the Armed Forces and the general disruptions of a world at war.


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