NEW WORLDS - the fanzine #2 (April 1939)CONTENTS:
NEW WORLDSAn official Science Fiction Association magazine.
Vol 1. No 2................................................April 1939
Editor: Ted Carnell
Assistant Editor: Ken G Chapman
Editorial Address: 17 Burwash Road, Plumstead, London, S.E.18
c/o. SFA HQ: 23, Farnley Road, South Norwood, London, S.E.23
Cover by HARRY TURNER.
A Chapman- Carnell Publication. Issued free to SFA members.
To non-members: Great Britain 4 1/2d per single copy. 3/6d for 12.
SCIENCE FICTION 1950by
John Russell Fearn
I HAVE JUST get back from a trip in my private time machine - from a voyage of discovery into that fantastic land of equally fantastic creatures - Science Fictiondom.
About 1943, 1946 and 1948, I skipped several might- have-been-world-wars , but each time they fizzled out and my fears of a total eclipe of all reading matter, and science- fiction in particular, were not realised. I found that in eleven years the dimly visible formations of today had really come to pass.
First, still blazing in the field, stood ASTOUNDING STORIES, back again with its former title, but twice as thick and at half the price, with Edward E. Smith's fifteenth serial about to start... But that was not all. THRILLING WONDER and AMAZING, both semi-monthlies, were entirely assured of themselves, shedding a light of well-being over a flock of thirty other magazines of science fiction - and all of them doing well.
I covered the 1950 bookstall quickly, found to my amazement that science fiction books and magazines were no longer relegated to a back shelf, but were pushed far to the front. The best seller of the year was "Jovian Cloud," having' sold over two million copies--and imagine my amazement on finding from the jacket blurb that the author had made his name with science fiction, starting way back in 1941!
Well, thought I, after a glance at the juvenile papers also showing their complement of science fiction, something has definitely happened since I was thirty years old. Better discover what....
I decided to drop in at the London offices of TALES OF WONDER - a new, modernistic building in the middle of the Strand (metaphorically). On my way I beheld film posters advertising the latest, all-stereocscopic, all-talking, all smelling (no doubt) science epic of the day - "Dusty Saturn." It featured a new and glamorous lady who had the gift of looking more like a Martian woman than anyone else in Hollywood. I saw her picture outside the theatre: that turned me against the film entirely. My 1939 insides revolted.
I continued on my way towards TALES OF WONDER offices, stopped in silent wonder before a stand where FANTASY loomed predominant among its neighbours. A weekly! A thick 1/- weekly......... And the old familiar names going strong -- John Beynon (that illustrious middle-aged gentleman who gave us "Sleepers of Mars" way back in 1938!) Eric Frank Russell (at present exploring the North Pole ); William F. Temple (author of the existing brilliant serial) - and thousands - well anyway - a few more.
And so to TALES OF WONDER offices. Officials seemed
to be everywhere. Electric lifts carried me to the heights of
the edifice. Trim girls in buttoned uniforms ushered me down
enameled passages filled with orange lights. I passed through
a multitude of doors, and so finally to the abode of the
Editor in Chief.
There he sat, little changed, bounded in by numberless manuscripts, eyeing me through his glasses. The years had been kind to my old associate Walt Gillings. Perhaps a slight thickening of the shoulders, a little more round the waist line.
"Walt," I said slowly, sitting down and facing him.
"What's wrong with everything?"
"Something to do with Einstein,"
I nodded sympathetically.
"Uh -huh, like that...."
I left him in rather a daze, took a quiet seat near the Thames Embankment and thought it out. I began to see - the law of progress. In 1936 science fiction had outgrown its swaddling clothes and high-flown cockeyed science and had become humanised. In 1940 reprints had run out. The new humanized yarn had reached England, carried by TALES OF WONDER and FANTASY, while lesser mags had dealt with the blood and thunder stuff. S-f would be bound to reach the public that way, even as Sherlock had paved the way to the `Thin Man." In like manner it had spread its influence into books and films. I saw it all quite clearly.
A dream? Oh, no. Founded definitely on fact. The ball has started rolling, my friends. In 1950 science fiction will not be the exception, but the rule!
FRANK ARNOLD HAS touched upon a very delicate subject with
his article "Is Weinbaum Over-rated?" and, being conscious
of this, has utterly failed to state a real case. As a matter
of fact, when I read his article I considered it an excellent
introduction, and looked round for the thesis. This not being
forthcoming, I came to the conclusion that either he had only
sent in part of the article and the rest to be published
later, or else he was uncertain as to what - if anything - he
was writing about. In order not to waste such a splendid
introduction, I have tried to reconstruct his theory.
The first point to be considered is the fact that
Weinbaum has only written short stories, although "The Black
Flame" wa really of serial length. This may seem an obvious
statement but a fact often lost sight of. He can only be
justly compared, then, with short story writers. I shall not
however, claim this privilege for him, as I consider that he
can stand comparison with all authors except, possibly, Dr.
Now it is a sad but indisputable fact that science-
fiction can seldom stand up to literary criticism, so I exposed
Weinbaum to this most searching of tests. I happen to
know a literary critic who I have occasionally persuaded to
read som of s-f's outstanding stories, so I offered him "The
Black Flame." He read it and said that it was a good story.
"Flight on Titan" and "Shifting Seas" he classed as reasonable
yarns; the rest, with. the exception of "Pygmalion's Spectacles"
(which he called elementary), were classed as very
cleverly thought out studies or cameos. The Dixon Wells series
he called amusing, but fantastic.
FRANK ARNOLD HAS touched upon a very delicate subject with his article "Is Weinbaum Over-rated?" and, being conscious of this, has utterly failed to state a real case. As a matter of fact, when I read his article I considered it an excellent introduction, and looked round for the thesis. This not being forthcoming, I came to the conclusion that either he had only sent in part of the article and the rest to be published later, or else he was uncertain as to what - if anything - he was writing about. In order not to waste such a splendid introduction, I have tried to reconstruct his theory.
The first point to be considered is the fact that Weinbaum has only written short stories, although "The Black Flame" wa really of serial length. This may seem an obvious statement but a fact often lost sight of. He can only be justly compared, then, with short story writers. I shall not however, claim this privilege for him, as I consider that he can stand comparison with all authors except, possibly, Dr. Smith.
Now it is a sad but indisputable fact that science- fiction can seldom stand up to literary criticism, so I exposed Weinbaum to this most searching of tests. I happen to know a literary critic who I have occasionally persuaded to read som of s-f's outstanding stories, so I offered him "The Black Flame." He read it and said that it was a good story. "Flight on Titan" and "Shifting Seas" he classed as reasonable yarns; the rest, with. the exception of "Pygmalion's Spectacles" (which he called elementary), were classed as very cleverly thought out studies or cameos. The Dixon Wells series he called amusing, but fantastic.
I asked him which author he thought was the best
out of those he had road , and he said Weinbaum was,
most emphatically. He was the only one with a knowledge
of literary construction and humanity. A few of the
authors he has read are: Keller, Burks, Coblentz,
Binder and Repp.
He called "The Skylark of Valeron" an ELEMENTARY story!
From a purely s-f point of view, we may notice that Weinbaum did what fans have been asking for - created a history and stuck to it. Thus in each of his stories, with one or two exceptions, we have the same background of all his stories, giving us an atmosphere of reality lacking in most short stories, and in many serials.
Another notable characteristic of Weinbaum was his choice of heroes. In general he wrote of ordinary people, people like most of his readers. That is to say, people whom they can understand. We may like Smith, but we cannot imagine ourselves having Seaton's luck, and feel awed by the brains of DuQuesne and Kinnison. Thus Weinbaum's characters are more vivid to us than most. We can adrmire the world shifters and galaxy dominoters, but we sympathise with the less spectacular characters. Most of this type of story deals with extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
Weinbaum deals with ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
From this evidence, and from the fact that he has never written a bad story, and no other author can claim more than one of those qualities, I conclude that it is almost impossible to over-rate Weinbaum.
THE "DAILY MAIL' Ideal Home Exhibition at Earls Court during April features THE KALEIDAKON, a 100 feet tower of glass surrounded by a 100 feet square pool of water. Nearby is a structure similar to the "bridge" of a liner, where two men sit at a bewildering keyboard. As they commence to play, the ordinary lighting of the place dims, and from the Kaleidakon both music and rainbow lighting effects blend in symphonic harmony.
Invention is the coupling of a specially built "light-control" and a Compton organ. Ex-BBC harmonist Quentin Maclean at the organ.
SCIENCE-FICTION SERVICE announce another boon to collectors. Arrangements have now been made for 12 issue direct subscriptions to the SCIENCE-FICTION FAN, one of America's best fan-mags. Send 5/- NOW (or state Liverpool credit) to Current Issue Department, 17 Burwash Road, London, S.E.18.
WANTED The two "Passing Show" serials: "The Lost People" by John Beynon, and "The 1000th Frog" by Hubbard. Send to Eric Williams, 11 Clowders Rd, Catford, SE6 stating price.
No.1. MENTAL GIANTS. First of a series of three articles.
THE DEVELOPMENT of future science, of course, means vast mental progress in the future but the queerest conception of the distant Superman is that of the being with an enormous cranium balanced upon an undersized, atrophied body supported by feeble limbs.
Many authors have advanced this idea and many people, believing it, have pointed to it as one of the "Horrors of the Future." The notion is that the body is an encumbrance to the brain, which will make no serious progress until it is free of the physical handicap. If the brain is liberated it will expand and the body will atrophy.
It is difficult to believe that this can be taken seriously. For it supposes that the brain is a mysterious object living apart from the animal frame and can be parted from it to advantage. How on Earth?
For in fact the brain is a very physical object. It is nothing more than a chunk of meat very much alive and very much in need of solid nourishment. The nourishment is supplied by the bloodstream, which in turn is moved by the heart and purified by the lungs, all of which is kept in motion by a healthy body. Presumably the heart, lungs and bloodstream of our supposed "Superman" will be as weak as the body containing them, so how the gigantic brain can be sustained by its wholly inadequate mechanism is something the authors rarely think about. True, there have been brains pictured as being supported by large artificial lungs and bloodstreams, but these were in fixed "brain-houses" which meant the destruction of mobility which is essential for a fully efficient working mechanism such as the human constitution.
And why should the brain grow in size at all? It is not a muscle, and its size is not regulated by mental activity. Size can only be increased with a general physical growth, which in turn stimulate the use of the estimated nine- tenths of brain power still dormant.
There are many relevant fallacies concerned with the development or otherwise of the body in the future. With the spread of civilisation many of us are no longer compelled to fight like savages for the bare necessities of life. We have machines that do this, that, and the other, luxuries unknown even to the God-Emperors of ancient days. We can travel great distance in utmost comfort, converse with friends at the ends of the earth from our own rooms. The burden of toil is constantly lifted from our backs.
So our well-known pessimists interpret this as a sign of wholesale physical decay because of the ceaseless pampering effect of civilisation. Probably they are the same people who deplore "The rush and strain of
They date back to 1863 or earlier. They forget that when
the machine remonves the compulsion of toil people take to it
for pleasure's sake.
Years ago the pessimists argued that popular motoring, lifts, escalators and so forth would save us the necessity of walking and therefore the desire to do so. The future, said the Prophets of Horror, would see a race with underdeveloped legs or none at all, and Dr. Keller wrote THE REVOLT OF THE PEDESTRIANS. But hardly had motoring got under way than everybody took to hiking and rambling and have done so ever since, although motor sales are soaring every year.
It is now an established fact that man of the modern mechanised civiisation, far from being weaker than his hardy forebears, is actually taller and stronger. This has been proved by comparison with medieval suits of armour, and to quote a case in point, the personal armour of Henry VIII in the White Tower should impress one with the comparative smallness of the monarch, one of the greatest athletes of his time. Bones and skulls of past races also prove that races of giants in the past were myths. Modern men equal in stature the highly intelligent Cro-magnons of pre - historic days. This is purely an evolutionary phenomenon and has nothing to do with the spurt in record-breaking athletics in recent years.
In these days of physical fitness campaigns the prejudice of hack-scientists against physical perfection is dying, but it dies hard. Many are still firmly convinced that the strong man is necessarily a mental cripple. They still think of great scientists in terms of domelike foreheads. Ask anyone who could be the author of a book like "Man and Cosmic Antagonism to Mind and Spirit," and they would be sure to conjure up some wild-eyed fanatic with flaming hair and cadavorous appearance, and would be shocked to learn that it was fifteen-stone George Hackenschmidt, the champion wrestler, a mere athlete.
It is more than probable that the mental giants of the future will be physical giants as well. The human frame is the most wonderful machine on earth and the intelligent Superman will tend it accordingly. They will develop it to its fullest, and mental capacity will develop with it. They will explore and exploit all its possibilities. Eventually they will train it to do without external aids to existence and make it self-supporting and self-sufficing. They will do away with exterior forms of nourishment and dependance on machines for constructive work.
There is in the human body, with its five (perhaps more) senses, its actions and reactions, its growth and mentality, a whole ocean of speculation, activity and development which we today have barely begun to realise.
Editor Campbell replies: "Gentleman: Thanks a lot for your message of encouragement. UNKNOWN is my own particulr pet, my own idea of what fantasy should be, and that others agree and enjoy the new effort is, naturally, heartening.
The first issue is not yet all I want the magazine to be. As always, the editor of a completely new magazine is faced with the problem of defining his wants to authors, and the authors are faced with the problem of writing blind for a market whose nature they cannot know. There has been, inevitably, considerable hesitancy and fumbling on the part of the writers; it shows particularly in that first issue in the short stories. As action fantasy, I think your own Eric Frank Russell could not well have been surpassed. The short stories on the other hand, are not up to the material I am now getting in, since the writers have some material to hand to guide them.
The second issue's long story, "The Ultimate Adventure," by L. Ron Hubbard, will help to further and more exactly define my wishes and hopes; the stories for the third issue will serve better yet.
England was the original home of fantasy, and I feel sure that your letters and suggestions will be of assistance -- and your authors will be welcome. I am trying to develop and perfect in modern terms a type of writing that has, for some reason inexplicable to me, remained in the swaddling clothes of the 19th century writing technique.
As the material for each now issue comes in, it becomes more and more certain that we have just begun that development. The writers, realising that I genuinely mean my request for any story that's real entertainment, are beginning to offer material better even than I had hoped for so soon.
I can promise with confidence that each issue will noticably be materially better as time goes on. And that there will be no slumping from the standard we set with UNKNOWN Volume 1. Number 1.
IN "NEW WORLDS" No.1. Eric Hopkins laid himself open to severe criticism in THE FORUM Here it is from:
T. Stanhope Sprigg, Editor of FANTASY:
We do, of course, regret that your correspondent Eric Hopkins' criticism of FANTASY should have been robbed of any value it might have had by his self-confessed ignorance of the subject, but the enclosed copy of the letter
we have sent
him may serve as an indication to you of our readiness to
co-operate with any further FANTASY critics among your readers
who may care to know what it really is they are criticising.
Extract from the letter to Mr. Hopkins: We much admire your candour in admitting that in referring to FANTASY you are writing about something of which you personally are quite ignorant. As a token of our admiration we are sending you a complimentary copy of the issue in question. We do not, of course, expect you to change your pre-conceived opinion of its merits, but we feel that it is always so much more satisfactory to both parties - quite apart from any question of fair play - if the critic knows what it is he is criticising.
Incidentally, FANTASY No.2 is now published, and if you should feel called upon to comment on this issue, too, in print, without going to the expense of acquring firsthand knowledge of your subject, just let us know and we will gladly send you another free copy.
(We feel that Eric is lucky to get a free copy of FANTASY together with a kick in the pants - for Mr. Sprigg has meted out justice with a very generous foot. We DO NOT guarantee to publish further letters designed to obtain complimentary copies - but we would appreciate your constuctively critical letters on FANTASY No. 2, when we will publish the general reaction to the issue.
John Burke, 57 Beduclair Drive, Liverpool 15, comments:
"EMPYREAN RENDEZVOUS" was just...LOUSY! Fiction in fan-mags is just all wrong unless it is humorous, or very short with a good twist. (You're telling us - take a look round SATELLITE sometime). A fan-mag should be by fans about fans. To conclude - the even edges are good, the headings neat, the whole set-up snappy, but the magazine is boring. You are dragging it into the rut which TOMORROW staggers along in - very respectable, awfully smart, awfully staid, and atrociously boring. Don't try to be so highbrow, lay off the fiction AND GET DOWN TO SOMETHING.
Pith from Syd Bounds Jr. 27 Borough Rd., Kingston-on-Thames:
FAN MAG DIGESTExcerpts from American contemporaries.
Robert A. Madle, Jan/Feb FANTASCIENCE DIGEST: The following paragraph from John W. Campbell, Jr. clears up the mystery of why UNKNOWN hit the Philadephian news-stands almost three weeks ahead of schudule. "Philadephia was the first city in the world to get UNKNOWN. The magazines are printed, bound and wrapped in large bundles, individual lots. The company wanted to get this first number out as soon as possible, and the first shipment assembled was of the proper number to supply the stands of a city the size of Philly. Chicago was next then New York, then general shipments began." (NW Editorial note - Interesting to know that first issue of UNKNOWN was in London 10 days before advertised publication; was, in fact, on sale three days prior. Subsequent issues are ahead of schedule here, and are on a par with US publication date).
Madle continues: Editor Campbell guarantees U to be the greatest imaginative-fiction magazine ever to appear. He intends to get the general writers who do not have the scientific knowledge for s-f to write for the mag. No matter how good Mr. Campbell makes UNKNOWN he will never neglect ASTOUNDING. In fact, he promises that, in one year, ASTOUNDING will lead the field by twice as much as it does now!
With the publication of CLOAK OF AESIR in March ASTOUNDING, Don A. Stuart will retreat from the writing field. As most know, Stuart is one of Campbell's pseudonyms and Campbell states that he cannot edit two magazines and still find time to write.
Thos. S.Gardner in March 5 FANTASY NEWS: In spite of the fact that SINISTER BARRIER in the first UNKNOWN is the best stf novel since Burks' SURVIVAL in the first MARVEL, it does not contain an original plot. The same plot was developed with an unusual twist that Russell's story does not contain in a short by Ed Hamilton in WEIRD. The story was THE EARTH OWNERS in the August 1931 issue. Even the same quotation from one of Fort's books is used in both stories. In order to appreciate SINISTER BARRIER one should read Hamilton's story and note the differences in the endings.
Same issue - "Campbell's attention was brought to Hamilton's story in March 1931 issue. His explanation was simply that both authors had got their ideas from Fort's LO! and both were members of The Fortean Society. The logical working of the plot would bring both authors to to same inevitable conclusion."
John Giunta in FANTASY NEWS, Feb 12: AMAZING, altho shelving its proposed weird mag, is still continuing to buy weird material. Both Palmer and Margulies had letters in the Feb WRITERS DIGEST, stating what they
wanted in the way of stories.
There was also featured a complete market of fantasy
magazines, where all editors stated what they wanted: ARGOSY
BLUE BOOK, THRILLING ADVENTURES, BOYS' LIFE, AMERICAN BOY,
FOR MEN, CORONET and ESQUIRE are open for stf yarns, plus
ADVENTURE and other adventure magazines.
Ray Bradbury in the March D'JOURNAL: ASTOUNDING...will accede to readers' demands and put out a quarterly six times a year. First issue will contain "JASON MOWS AGAIN" by A. Lawn Mower; GARTERS DON'T MIND TYING by 'Legs' Diamond; a sequel to MURDER IN THE VOID entitled FATAL BULLET ENTERS ACKERMAN'S HEAD; STRANGE STORIES second issue will feature Gypsy Rose Lee on the cover, a story of an Earthly heroine who does a strip-freeze on icy Pluto!; AMAZING promises us RETURN OF THE PROWLER sequel entitled I HOPE HE DOES (author A. Oldmaid?); a coming WONDER will feature these: a sequel to VIA ASTEROID and VIA DEATH yarns entitled VIA SELL ANYTHING! the true life of Karloff scaring himself in THE MAN AND THE MIRROR and a yet unnamed tale of a continent that sank under the sea -- a MUtant story.
Numerous readers of our first issue mis-read our statement concerning DYNAMIC SCIENCE STORIES. This magazine, companion to MARVEL, is an American mag, and commenced British publication from the second issue.
"NEW WORLDS" NOW MONTHLY. As TOMORROW, the other SFA publication, will not appear again until August at least, we have decided to issue NW upon the 1st of each month. We shall need plenty of material: how about it?
NEXT ISSUE We feature a special article by Jack Williamson, who asks "Too Many Magazines?" and Frank Arnold continues his trouble-stirring with "To Hell With Human Interest." Also featured will be some viewpoints upon "webwork" which seem to prove that there's nothing new under the sun.
REQUEST John Petersen's story has aroused mixed opinions --- enough to make us decide to cut fiction down to only occasionally. A number of good yarns by fans are now on hand, but we want a wider opinion on whether to publish them. Send us a post card -- preferably clean, bright and witty.
NEWS We've just signed on Jimmy Taurasi of New York as US correspondent. Jim runs a weekly called FANTASY NEWS -- and should be conversant with New World happenings. He missed the boat for this issue, but will be with us in the next.