Revisit back issues of Amazing Stories, the 1930s magazine that gave birth to science fiction as we know it
Presenting numbers for 92 years now, Analog Sci-Fi and Reality is the longest continuously published magazine of its kind. He also claims to have developed or at least popularized this genre into the form we know of it today. When it was initially launched in December 1929, it did so under the much more funky title of Amazing Super-Science Stories. But it wasn’t until three years later, after a change in ownership and the installation as editor-in-chief of F. Orlin Tremaine, that the magazine began to publish works by writers remembered today. today as the defining minds of science fiction.
Under the direction of Tremaine, amazing stories rose above its pulp-fiction origins with stories like Jack Williamson’s “Legion of Space” and John W. Campbell’s “Twilight.” The latter inspired the striking illustration above by artist Elliott Dold. “Dold’s work was deeply influenced by Art Deco, which lends its geometric forms to the city of machines in ‘Twilight'” Write the New York Times‘Alec Nevala-Leewho “inaugurated the modern era of science fiction”.
In the case of a golden age science fiction magazine like amazing storiessupports Nevala-Lee, “its most immediate impact came from its illustrations”, which “may prove to be the genre’s most enduring contribution to our collective vision of the future”.
None of the images printed inside amazing stories was as striking as its covers, color productions on which “artists could let their imaginations run wild”. Sometimes they adhered closely to visual descriptions in a story’s text – perhaps too closely, in the case of the June 1936 issue with HP Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time” – and sometimes they strayed and even rivaled the actual content of the magazine. But after Campbell took over as editor in 1937, this content grew even stronger: featured writers included Robert Heinlein, A.E. van Vogt and Isaac Asimov.
Today, here, in this 21st century that once looked like science fiction, you can not only see the covers, but also read the pages of hundreds of issues of amazing stories thirties, forties and fifties online. The first volumes are downloadable from the University of Pennsylvania websitePassing by Project Gutenbergand there’s even more to read for free at the Internet Archive. Although it did not always accurately reflect the material inside, amazing storiesThe cover images represented the publication as a whole. It could be thought-provoking and haunting, but it also provided a sizable amount of cheap thrill – and the golden age of sci-fi still shows us just how much of a thin line really separates the two.
Enter a huge archive of amazing storiesthe world’s first science fiction magazine, launched in 1926
Free: 355 numbers of Galaxythe groundbreaking science fiction magazine of the 1950s
Download numbers from strange tales (1923-1954): Pioneering magazine Pulp Horror features original stories by Lovecraft, Bradbury and many others
Enter the archives of Pulp Magazine, with over 11,000 digitized issues of classic sci-fi, fantasy and crime novels
The Science Fiction Encyclopedia: 17,500 Entries on All Things Science Fiction Now Free Online
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts about cities, language and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter books about cities, the book The Stateless City: A Walk Through 21st Century Los Angeles and the video series The city in cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshallon FacebookOr on instagram.