Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Aaron's Magazine of the Week :: August 2, 1930 issue of Argosy

Argosy August 1930The Magazine of the Week is the August 2, 1930 issue of Argosy magazine. The cover story of this magazine (cover art by Robert A. Graef) is part one of Otis Adelbert Kline's science fiction novel The Prince of Peril, a planetary adventure set on Venus. At the time, Kline was one of the two leading authors of adventure stories on other planets, along with Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the John Carter of Mars series. Unlike Burroughs, who was even more famous for his African adventures starring a fellow named Tarzan of the Apes, Kline was exclusively known for his science fiction.

The April 2, 1930 Argosy is thus an example of the first phase of how pulp magazines caused the market for fiction to be divided into different genres. General pulps like Argosy exposed readers to different kinds of stories and allowed authors to develop a following writing specific types of fiction. The second phase came when new pulp magazines were created to cater to readers who preferred particular types of stories. Publishers began to create a huge number of pulp titles specializing in mysteries, westerns, romance, horror, sports stories, war stories, adventure fiction, hero pulps (such as The Shadow), and so on. Some of these pulp magazines were absurdly specialized, with titles like Railroad Stories and North-West Romances (both very successful), Speakeasy Stories and Zeppelin Stories (not so much).

Next week's Magazine of the Week will be an early issue of the very first magazine to specialize in science fiction.

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