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.
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.”
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.
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.