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Burks, Arthur J

Entry updated 11 September 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1898-1974) US military man and author whose first career was in the American Marine Corps (1917-1927); he re-enlisted in World War Two, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. In the meantime, he began to publish for the Pulp magazines, his first work of fantastic interest being "Thus Spake the Prophetess" (November 1924 Weird Tales) as Estil Critchie; his first sf was "Monsters of Moyen" for Astounding in April 1930. After two decades of high productivity – in a The New Yorker profile (15 February 1936) he estimated he had already published about 1400 stories – he remained intermittently active into the 1960s, under his own name and various pseudonyms including Estil Critchie, Burke MacArthur, Lieutenant Frank Johnson, Scott Morgan and Spencer Whitney.

Little of Burks's sf was reprinted in book form, the most notable exception being The Great Mirror (Summer 1942 Science Fiction Quarterly; 1952); in this hyperbolic tale, Tibetans who control Matter Transmission and various ESP powers mysteriously steal, from the Martians they have been visiting on Mars, a mirror capable of focusing on anything its user wills. Other sf titles include "Earth, the Marauder" (July-September 1930 Astounding), "The Mind Masters" (January-February 1932 Astounding), "Jason Sows Again" (March-April 1938 Astounding), Survival (August 1938 Marvel Science Stories; 2023) and its sequel "Exodus" (November 1938 Marvel Science Stories) and "The Far Detour" (Winter 1942 Science Fiction Quarterly); The Casket (1973) is also sf of a metaphysical kind. Much of Burks's best work was fantasy, including The Great Amen (1938), Look Behind You! (coll 1954 chap) and Black Medicine (coll 1966). He was one of the most prolific of all Pulp-magazine writers: his sf and fantasy constitute only a small fraction of his prodigious output. [JC/MJE]

Arthur J Burks

born Waterville, Washington: 13 September 1898

died Lancaster, Pennsylvania: 13 May 1974


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