Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Gernsback’

Hell, it would be great if some large media conglomerate decided to sue me in Federal Court – that’s BIG pr, man.

Lacking that avenue of promotional greatness, I’m forced to simply tell you that Chapter 8 of Pulp Comic Story (which has now been retitled Pulp Comic Fairy Tale – something I said I might do a while ago) is now available here.


A few other things while I’m thinking about it:

Fred Kiesche had to take a sledgehammer to my head to make me realize that his blog – which used to be called The Eternal Golden Braid is now called –



I’ve been thinking about this for a bit: what would entice someone to read the classics if they weren’t already inclined to do so.

I’ve spent a fair number of words exlaining the ‘whys’ here already (do your homework you lazy, good-for-nothing) so let’s just assume (momentarily or otherwise) that they’re valid reasons.

Of course I don’t mean at the expense of contemporary SF.  I mean in addition to.  As a means of obtaining some grounding, some history, some appreciation, some respect for the people who all the awards are named after (yes dear, there are real people behind those award names and good reasons for naming those awards after them – The Hugo for Hugo Gernsback, father of popularizing the genre – the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, because JWC had a nack for finding and developing new talent within the pages of Astounding SF (and the other award of the same name for best novel, given out by SFRA) – Andre Norton for YA lit, given by SFWA because she wrote so many tales that introduced young-uns to SF – Arthur C. Clarke for Best UK SF, because he helped found the UK SF dynasty and because he was, you know, British – Cordwainer Smith, for rediscovering overlooked authors of merit – Damon Knight, SFWA Grandmaster award because Damon founded the org – James Tiptree – for works that explore gender, because SHE did just that – Philp K. Dick, for having so much of his original work published in paperback – Robert A. Heinlein, for so much excellence – Theodore Sturgeon, for excellent short stories – if it weren’t for those folks we’d be giving out awards named for something stupid like The Spaceship Award or The Raygun Award.

Many of those people worked very hard at what they did and (should) leave a lasting, honored memory. And they deserve to be read, along with all of their brethren and sisteren.

So what I thought was – how about if we poll the contemporary favorites and compile a referral list like they do at BMG for music (if you liked so-and-so, you ought to like whosiswhatsis too).

I mean, we already know that If you like John Scalzi, you’ll probably like Robert A. Heinlein too and If you like David Weber, you’ll probably like A. Bertram Chandler, but who else?

So let’s ask some contemporary authors the following questions:

1. Did you read SF before you were a writer?

2. Who were your favorites?

3. Who do you think influenced you the most?

4. Which of the classic authors do you think your work most resembles?

Maybe if we tell the kids this, they’ll give those classics a try.

Maybe John at SFSignal will ask this one…


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I finally got across the street to take those pictures at Piexx, the electronics repair shop in Hillsboro, NH.  Their inventory of antique radios and televisions is not to be believed.

What you’ll be seeing below are some of the pictures I took during a quick outing.  I’m looking for image art I can use on The Classic Science Fiction Channel.  The idea is, instead of clicking a menu entry, you’ll turn on the TV or the radio, wait for it to warm up, get a test pattern and then, by turning the dials, you’ll be able to tune in on the show you want to watch or listen to.

(Actually, I’m hoping to put a whole living room scene up on the screen that will also let you operate a reel-to-reel for audio books or pull a volume down off the bookshelves.)

Here’s the television I’ve selected.  Imagine it with the following voice over: “We control the horizontal…from the inner mind to THE OUTER LIMITS”

You’ll notice that this TV does not even have a UHF dial.  If you’re asking – ‘what’s that?’, or of you’re wondering why anyone would need a dial for a TV (or better yet, wondering how the heck they can fit 999 channels on a dial), you’ve probably wandered into the wrong place.  Go back to kicking whores in GTA and leave your betters elders alone!

Now when it comes to radios, I needed something with a lot of dials and ‘tunability’.  There are a lot more radio programs than there are TV (at least on TCSFC) so I need a lot more buttons and dials.  There are quite a few contendors (I haven’t even begun to mine the depths of Piexx), but I’m pretty sure that the following is what I’ll be using –

I think I remember Pilot radios. I’ll have to ask my dad about it – it just might be the same company, if different model, that I listened to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger on.

That’s probably the radio I’ll use, but there are certainly some other ones I’m considering, such as this one.

That rotary tuning dial is so old skool it looks like it belongs in a B52, not sitting in the living room. The toggle buttons on the side are pretty nifty also and would probably be fairly easy to photoshop and animate.

Unfortunately the storage location for this (and a couple of the other items) was so cramped that I couldn’t fit the whole thing into the shot.  This radio is a floor model and stands about four feet tall.

Here are some others:

 This is a Gundig Master.

Before the Sith and the Jedi, there were the Gundig.  They were all trapped by the evil Edsels in their horrific Dashboard of Timelessness device, which is why Lucas had to go with Sith and Jedi. There’s a little bit of Star Wars pre-history you probably didn’t know about.


 This is the Meteor. Good name and the design is perfectly dreadful 50s kitsch, but there’s no display unfortunately.




These next two are also floor models. The fancy woodwork was required because the radio used to be a central feature of most household living rooms or dens. They’re also pretty ‘blah’, because the designers didn’t want to distract you from the visions that were going on inside your head. 


















These next two are REALLY old.  You can tell because they look REALLY REALLY old. Ancient. Decrepit. Aged. Antique. Obsolete.  CLASSIC.










This is a Westinghouse Home Entertainment Center in a Box. This thing has so many dials and that really cool handle. I think its actually a camouflaged portable power supply for Frankenstein’s monster.

Note the handy-dandy installation guide pasted into the lid.  




Here’s a blow-up:

It identifies this as an Aeriola Receiver, from the Westinghouse Radio Corporation. Note that it illustrates how to hook the thing up and attach it to your antenna.

 People have obviously been in mess-o-cables hell for a looong time.

It looks like it might actually have been put together to compete with product that our good friend Hugo Gernsback used to market.  Hugo offered kits that you assembled yourself. Westinghouse seems to have been after the non-geek side of the market.


Here are a couple more:













(This space reserved for humorous segue)

Speaking of cars, SUVs and vans, here is a pic of my all-time favorite vehicle. I want one badly.  Problem is, the company that made them has been out of business for so long hardly any information about it has made it to the web. It was manufactured by the Linn Coach & Truck Corporation. Those folks made a half-track for logging in the woods, but that half-track is about all you can find on the web.


The plow isn’t part of the vehicle.  This one is parked about two blocks over from my house in an outdoor museum called the Kemp Truck Museum.  Mr. Kemp died a few years back and no one else seems to be too motivated about doing anything to preserve the enormous collection of Mack and other trucks he collected.  (Hint:  I’d be happy to curate and fund raise for the price of a Linn…).

Here’s another pic of a few (very few) of the other vehicles at Kemp’s:

If you’re into old fogey stuff, New Hampshire sure looks like the place to be, huh?

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A few days ago I posted some images and a little history on the SF/F magazine.  Its now time to move on to the golden age, which started with John W. Campbell’s assumption of the editor’s chair at Astounding Stories.

But before that happened, John W. wrote for the magazines, and one of the magazines he wrote for was called Astounding Stories of Super Science.

 January of 1930. 

 Hugo’s magazines underwent another name change

 and expansion into a quarterly edition of the same name.

 A little later on in the decade, Wonder again changed its title:


Several other good looking magazines were also produced, but never amounted to much:


 And then, in 1934, the UK produced its first SF mag – Scoops, a weekly newspaper for teens:

 Which was followed shortly thereafter by a number of ‘adult’ British titles:


 The end of the decade saw a boom in SF & Fantasy pulps, many going on to long and venerable careers:









  Culminating with another John W. Campbell inspired pulp –


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(*now that I’ve figured out which link to use for posting images, I’ve gone back and added pics to some of the earlier entries.  You might want to check them out.)

One of my oldest and most enduring hobbies is collecting science fiction and fantasy magazines (even a little horror manages to creep in there from time to time).  I say magazines because the focus of my collection encompasses pulps, digest and the more modern forms as well.

I’ve got a pretty good collection, although not complete (I don’t think it will ever be complete – there’s always an excuse to expand). The collection focuses on Volume 1, Number 1 (english language) Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines.

And now that I’ve figured out how to get images up here, I can share some of them.  Doing so will become my ‘subject to write about when I’ve got nothing else to write about’.

All of the images that are presented here come from either my own collection or from several sites that are invaluable resources of information and scans for those interested in collecting.  Those sites are:

Philip Stevenson-Payne’s index; Jacque Hamon’s index of American magazines (most of the site is in French, but don’t let that stop you); Terry Gibbon’s VISCO site, and of course the Miller-Contento index to pulp magazines at Locus Mag. Its a text index but excellent for double-checking.

My site is designed to let me access the collection and quickly determine whether I have a particular magazine and, if so, what the condition is.  With a cell phone or laptop handy, I can quickly check something I’m considering buying against what I already have.  My ‘magazine rack’ display image can be found here.

Today we’re going to look at the SF/F magazine prior to 1930.

 In 1913, Hugo Gernsback, an inventor and one of the original popularizers of radio and electronics in the USA, debuted a magazine devoted to the new science.

Which was eventually re-titled in 1920 as:

It frequently featured fantastical stories that attempted to speculate on the future of various technologies.  One such was Gernsback’s own ‘Ralph 124C41+’, which was more a travelogue of future tech than story.  However, readers responded well and this enthusiasm caused Gernsback to experiment.

However, before that experiment reached the news stands, The Thrill Book was published in 1919:

Had Thrill book continued and actually devoted itself to its original intent (heavy emphasis on fantasy), it might have become known as the first magazine devoted exclusively to fantasy (and perhaps SF).  Unfortunately, the market was apparently not yet ready and Thrill Book folded the same year it began.

Then, in 1923, another near-miss occurred.  Weird Tales hit the stands.

Fortunately for Gernsback’s future plans, WT – justly famous in its own right – stuck to horror, fantasy and the ‘weird’ genres, including HP Lovecraft, and author who has become synonymous with this magazine.

In August of 1923, Gernsback published the first of the ‘all scientific fiction’ issues of Science and Invention:

Hugo would have had enough lead time to see the debut issue of Weird Tales and get this issue of S&I onto the stands by August, although this is speculation on my part.  He repeated this experiment in 1924 and both experiments were very well received. 

In 1926 he launched Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted exclusively to the publishing of what Gernsback had titled ‘scientificfiction’ and later ‘scientification’.

Amazing Stories was quickly followed by an Annual compilation magazine and then a quarterly compilation magazine –













Then, during 1927, Hugo lost most of his media empire to a forced bankruptcy.  He quickly recovered and introduced Science Wonder Stories, Air Wonder Stories (later combined as Thrilling Wonder Stories) along with a quarterly edition:

Next time – Astounding Stories of Super Science and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

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Mike Macafferty over at slice of scifi, in response to the list making mania, offers his sarcastic take in “The Seven Most Embarrassing Moments in Science Fiction”.

Not to be outdone (and to make sure that you don’t have an excellent weekend) I offer my own list comprised of the Ten Wurstest Moments in Science Fiction History

1. Bye-bye Hugo Gernsback

2. Bye-bye Stanley G. Weinbaum

3. Bye-bye John W. Campbell

4. Bye-bye H. Beam Piper

5. Bye-bye Robert A. Heinlein

6. Bye-bye C. M Kornbluth

7. Bye-bye A. Bertram Chandler

8. Bye-bye Eric Frank Russell

9. Bye-bye Isaac Asimov

10. Bye-bye Arthur C. Clarke

You know, I NEVER liked this whole list thing to begin with…



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