(1939) Meet Our Science Fiction Family

The June 1939 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories featured a six-page collection of biographies of the writers and artists that comprised that magazine. Thrilling Wonder had taken over from Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories, starting in August 1936. The magazine changed tone, from Gernsback’s faltering gadget SF to a magazine for younger readers. The emphasis was now on fun, adventure and spectacle. Many critics, especially those who love John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction, have decried TWS. The Pulp started with a comic strip inside called “Zarnak”, drawn by Jack Binder. This did nothing to increase its reputation. It also didn’t catch on and increase sales, so it was dropped. For my money, I prefer TWS over most issues of Astounding. This is a matter of taste of course (or my lack thereof) but TWS never bores you with a lecture hidden inside a story. (Read a classic like “Blow Ups Happen” by Robert A. Heinlein or “Nerves” by Lester Del Rey. I’ll bring the pillows.)

In recent years, more fans and critics have been looking to magazines like TWS to get a fuller picture of SF history. The Golden Age snobs have largely passed on and new perspectives are getting a voice. While I acknowledge John W. Campbell’s importance, I don’t think Science Fiction starts and ends with him. The bios below belong to many of my favorite writers. Some wrote for Campbell as well and others chose (like Edmond Hamilton) quite consciously not to. Many also wrote and drew for Weird Tales, that other reviled publication SF snobs like to hate.

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