Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Here's a letter that young scientifiction fan Jerry Siegel wrote to Amazing Stories long before he and Joe Schuster created Superman.  The letter appeared in the August 1929 issue when Siegel was fifteen years old.


     I'm starting my letter off with a request which I am sure will be seconded by a large host of AMAZING STORIES readers.  What I wish you would do is reprint A. Merritt's "Through the Dragon Glass," which appeared in the All-Story magazine years ago.  Also some stories written for the same magazine by Austin Hall, Ralph Farley and Homer E. Flint.  In the "Discussions" column in the May issue of AMAZING STORIES, 1929, a reader by the name of Todhunter said he would like to know of a story called "The Invisible Professor."  The correct name is "The Vanishing Professor" and its author is Fred McIsaac.  I read the story when it appeared and I can safely say any scientifiction reader would enjoy it thoroughly.
     I'm for reprints, but I do not mean the ones that were written so long ago that their forecasts had already come true.  I  am also in favor of your reprinting "The Blind Spot," even though I've already read it.  And, Editor, if you are undecided as to whether or not to reprint it, you should hurry along with your decision, for the readers of the magazine in which it originally appeared are voting whether they should it reprinted or not.  By the way, will your readers stop casting slurs at "Weird Tales" magazine?  I buy every issue of "Argosy," "Weird Tales" and "Our" magazine as they appear, for they all have the same authors or most of them.  They List:
          1) Edmond Hamilton
          2) David H. Keller
          3) A. Merritt
          4) Clare W. Harris
          5) Ray Cummings
          6) Murray Leinster, etc., etc.
     So you see when you criticize that type of fiction appearing in these magazines, you are in turn throwing dirt at your own.
     And, Editor, give us another cover (story) contest.  I have written many science stories, amateurishly, and can hardly hold myself in restraint, when I know that some of my friends who have also written science stories galore, chiefly among them John Redul [??? I can't make out the last name - JH], author of "Voice from the Moon," also of "Emperor of Ten Worlds," both Sunday Times, and Bernard Kantor, author of "Invisible World," and "Beyond This Finite World," and are also waiting for a chance to number as contributor to "Our" magazine.

                                                              Jerome Siegel,
                                           10622 Kimberly Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

The editor, who by this time was T. O'Conor Sloane, explained that the magazine was receiving so many good stories that they had to be "very chary of giving reprints."

Fred MacIsaac's The Vanishing Professor was a four-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, beginning January 9, 1926, and appeared in book form the following year.

I haven't got a copy of the May1929 issue available -- probably because there was no issue with that date.  There was a May 1929 issue of Amazing Stories Quarterly but I could find no "Todhunter in the letters column.  So I don't know who "Todhunter" was.  The name conjures up images in my mind of Rex Todhunter Stout and his cousin Willis Todhunter Ballard.  Wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure.

The Blind Spot by Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint was a six-part serial beginning on May 14, 1921 in Argosy All-Story Weekly.  Neither Amazing Stories nor Argosy All-Story Weekly chose to reprint the story.  An incomplete version was reprinted in three parts in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1940 and then in Fantastic Novels in July of that year.  Prime Press published the novel in book form in 1951 and it has been reprinted many times since.

Of the authors mentioned by Siegel, most were mainstays in the early days of science fiction.  Hamilton and Leinster both had long and distinguished careers.  Cummings wrote a variety of pulp stories; many of his SF books were reprinted in paperback by Ace.  David H. Keller was a physician and prison psychiatrist who wrote some effective and more than a few clunky stories. He underwrote the cost of printing at least one of his collections from Arkham House.  Keller also wrote several works on sexual health.  Merritt was the editor of The American Weekly and the author of some widely-respected works of imaginative fantasy.  Austin Hall wrote mainly in the Western field but several of his SF stories are considered classics.  Homer Eon Flint's brief writing career was mainly concentrated in the Frank A. Munsey magazines, notably All-Story Weekly (later Argosy All-Story Weekly).  He died mysteriously (and brutally) in a car crash in 1924, after picking up a hitchhiker who was later found to have a criminal record.  "Ralph Milne Farley" was the pen name of teacher Roger Sherman Hoar.  Farley is best known for his "Radio Man" series, popular but pale imitations of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Clare Winger Harris is noted as "the first woman to publish sf in the specialized 1920s pulp magazines."  Her eleven SF stories were reprinted in a 1947 collection.

Bernard Kantor never had a story published in Amazing, nor in any other SF magazine as far as ISFDb can tell.  The two stories mentioned by John (whatever his last name is) are also not listed in ISFDb.

ISFDb lists this as the only letter Siegel published in Amazing Stories.  He did publish a letter in Astounding in 1931.  Siegel's 1929 Cosmic Stories may have been the first SF fanzine.  Siegel and Schuster created Superman in 1934 but it would take four years before the Man of Steel finally saw print in Action Comics #1.  The rest, as they say, is history.

No comments:

Post a Comment