Amazing Day in the Amazing Stories Archive

Today’s mass-sweep of the pulps brought me through Amazing Stories from the beginning to 1960! Many editorials, more fan letters (except for the period when the editor thought he could get away with removing them), and some spiffy-and not so spiffy-spacemen.

This cover of Amazing Stories shows a creature with the head of a cricket, a torso that is erect like a human’s two octopus-tentacle arms, and the tail of a snake. It seems friendly.
This cover of Amazing Stories shows a creature with the head of a cricket, a torso that is erect like a human’s two octopus-tentacle arms, and the tail of a snake. It seems friendly.

In my reading, I noticed that Amazing‘s writers and readers were much more interested in technology than bodies. While Astounding was interested in bodies and their changes, Amazing is interested in how these bodies travel through space, what bombs they drop, and how they poison giant flies with gas. There are, certainly, stories of bodily variation for human people, non-human people, and animals (and sometimes animal people). That being said, these stories were not commented on as frequently as those involving questions of physics or metaphysics. What I did see in the letters was a thirty plus year conversation about gender and “scientifiction.”

A detail of the magazine, with the phrase, “we have a rather limited number of respondents of the fair and interesting sex. But when we do get one from your “persuasion” it is always quite wonderful”

The letters from women (and some editorial responses) tell a story different than the one above. Quite a few women wrote in to offer “brickbats” (criticism), sometimes emphasizing how they had shared it with sisters/friends/etc. When a woman asked why there were so few stories written by women, the editor explained this was clearly because women “weren’t interested in science,” but when a woman defended (against naysayers) the magazine’s shift from the pulp size to the digest size because she could fit it in her purse, the editor quickly agreed with her logic by explaining the magazine had a “considerable percentage” of women readers.

A woman with long hair has lassoed a muscular man around the neck. The caption reads “The coed tightened about Talbot’s next, choking off his startled cry”

There is certainly more to be done here, not the least of which comes from thinking about the contested title/ranking of being a “fan.” For the nonce, however, it is time to no longer be amazed. For tomorrow… things get Weird.

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