H. G. Wells Module Week 8: Wells and the US Pulps

* by Mr Andy Sawyer

Stories and short novels of H. G. Wells published in early issues of Amazing; e.g.
"The New Accelerator" (April 1926)
"The Crystal Egg" (May 1926)
"The Star" (June 1926)
"The Man Who Could Work Miracles" (July 1926)
The First Men in the Moon (December 1926)
The Time Machine (May 1927)
The War of the Worlds (August 1927)
"A Story of the Days to Come" (April 1928)

Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977)
"The Man Who Evolved", Wonder Stories, Apr 1931

Known for space opera: "Interstellar Patrol", "Captain Future".
His first story, "The Monster-God of Mamurth" appeared in Weird Tales, 1926
m. Leigh Brackett in 1946 (best known for script of The Empire Strikes Back, but a prolific author of space operas in her own right).

A Club Story beginning: "There were three of us in Pollard's house..."
Note echoes of the Lovecraftian horror story which tell us that something gruesome is going to happen: "a fate whose horror none could dream..."

Is the title of his first book The Horror on the Asteroid & Other Tales of Planetary Horror (1936) relevant?

"I alone am left to tell..." Echo of Job: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said: "Thy children were feasting in their elder brother's house; and there came a great storm out of the west and blew the house in, and it fell upon the young people, and killed them all; and I alone am left to tell thee."

Evolution: "a fighting word in some states":
Tennessee vs John Scopes ("The Monkey Trail"), 1925: the State of Tennessee had banned the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution in its schools and opponents led by George Rappalyea engineered a trial.
"Rappalyea initially wanted science fiction writer H. G. Wells to head the defense team."
See also: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/inherit/1925home.html

"Cosmic Rays"
Discovered by the Austrian physicist Victor Hess, 1912.

See Wells's "The Man of the Year Million"

The cycle of change: is it repeated "ceaselessly, purposelessly" or is there "some change we cannot understand, above and beyond it?"

Nat Schachner (1895-1955)
"Past Present and Future", Astounding, Sep 1937

First of a series in which the protagonists visit cities in a future-earth which are examples of different social systems. Note the caste system in "PPF".
Prolific writer for the early pulps: noted for "thought-variants" for Astounding in the early 1930s (under editorship of F. Orlin Tremaine) and stories such as "Reverse Universe" (Astounding, Jun 1936), "The Eternal" (Astounding, Nov 1936), "Crystallised Thought" (Astounding, Aug 1937), "Cosmic" concepts such as hyperspace ("Simultaneous Worlds", 1938).

See: Sam Moskowitz, "The Science-Fiction of Nat Schachner" in Fantasy Commentator #43 - #45. Schachner also the author of "The Robot Technocrat" (Wonder Stories, March 1933)

What do these stories suggest in terms of stances towards knowledge, technology, the figure of the scientist? See "Crystallised Thought" as an example, with its utopian garden city, space laboratory, and stereotyped figures: trusty shambling servant, plucky flirtatious girl, decadent bulging-headed Martian scientists versus virile [American] Webb. The abstraction of cystalline, disembodied thought versus "sordid flesh ... slimy tissues and clotting blood." (Astounding, Aug 1937, p. 95)

Mike Ashley says in The Time Machines that Gernsback championed science while his readers wanted action adventure stories. Other sf magazines learned the lesson. So what are the strands of the Astounding science novel? Unsynthesised science -- an underlying story of villain, kidnap, girl, two-fisted hero but metaphysical, extrapolative science.

See also Paul A. Carter, The Creation of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Magazine Science Fiction.

It's worth browsing through Everett B. Bleiler, Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years.

Howard Scott's "Technocracy" organisation incorporated March 1933 in the State of New York. The movement originated 1918-19.

From the Technocracy web site:
Technocracy originated in the winter of 1918-1919 when Howard Scott formed a group of scientists, engineers, and architects that became known in 1920 as the Technical Alliance -- a research organization. in 1933 it was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York as a non-profit, non-political, non-secretarian membership organization. In 1934 Howard Scott, Director-in-Chief, made his first continental lecture tour which laid the foundation of the present Continent-wide membership organization. Since that time Technocracy has consistently maintained activities which are directed toward bringing its social proposals to the attention of the public.
Technocracy was built in North America by North Americans. it is composed of North American citizens of all walks of life. Technocracy's membership is a composite of all the occupations, economic levels, races and religions which make up this Continent. Membership is open only to North American citizens. Aliens and politicians are not eligible. (By politicians is meant those holding elective office or active office in a political party.) Doctor, lawyer, storekeeper, farmer, mechanic, teacher, preacher, or housewife -- so long as you are a patriotic North American you are welcome in Technocracy.
See http://www.technocracyinc.org

Gernsback published the short-lived "Technocracy Review": see advent and editorial in Wonder Stories March 1933.

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