Thursday, December 14, 2006

Aaron's Magazine of the Week :: Fantastic Universe August-September 1953

Fantastic Universe Aug-Sep 1953The Magazine of the Week is the August-September 1953 issue of Fantastic Universe, with cover art by Alex Schomburg. Here we see the image of the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand, to belabor my point that Hollywood sci-fi has never (save once) come up with anything written science fiction didn't already cover decades earlier. By the way, this isn't meant as a slam on the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, which I consider an underrated film. People have focused on the monkey make-up and terrible sequels and forgotten that the original movie actually had something interesting to say. The remake is another matter.

Fantastic Universe was one of a host of digest-sized science fiction magazines to hit the market in the 1950's. The digest magazines dashed in to fill the void as the pulp magazines disappeared. By the late 1950's, the pulps were entirely gone from the newsstand, and the few science fiction pulps to survive managed it only by switching to digest format. The digests operated on shoestring budgets, yet managed to offer some of the best writing around. The Magazine of the Week features such outstanding authors as Evan Hunter (who became famous for his mysteries under the name Ed McBain), Richard Matheson (later a very successful screenwriter), and SF luminaries Poul Anderson, Clifford Simak, Eric Frank Russell, and Andre Norton (under her pseudonym Andrew North).

We'll return to some of the digest magazines in future BOTWs, but first let's get back to our history of the pulp magazines, with the most successful title in the "hero pulp" genre.

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