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Other Worlds

Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Publication.


US Digest-size magazine, switching to Pulp format from November 1955. Published by Clark Publishing Co, November 1949-July 1953, and Palmer Publications Inc, May 1955-November 1957; edited by Raymond A Palmer and Bea Mahaffey. 47 issues, only 46 featuring fiction (not counting those titled either Science Stories or Universe Science Fiction): November 1949 to October 1952 (22 issues) as Other Worlds Science Stories, November 1952 to July 1953 (9 issues) as Other Worlds, May 1955 to May 1957 (16 issues) as Other Worlds Science Stories again, and four final issues (June to September 1957) as Flying Saucers from Other Worlds with alternating emphasis on the two components of the title. Initially bimonthly, Other Worlds adopted a six-weekly schedule from October 1950 to October 1952, but retained a single month as a cover date, giving the impression that it was an irregular bimonthly (the so-labelled June/July 1951 issue is an exception here). It was then monthly until July 1953.

Other Worlds was launched by Palmer while he was still editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures; for this reason editorship of the first issue was credited to Robert N Webster (a Palmer pseudonym). It was a fiction counterpart to his major magazine Fate, which focused on UFOs and the unexplained. Other Worlds was editorially similar to the Palmer Amazing, particularly in featuring the supposedly nonfictional stories of Richard S Shaver. The first issue was dominated by the Shaver Mystery and by authors who were regular contributors to the Ziff-Davis magazine. Despite claims by Palmer that Other Worlds would provide a wide range of science fiction, the magazine's initial impact was of more of the same.

In fact Other Worlds would publish some very good material, almost certainly thanks to the hard work of editor Bea Mahaffey who had barely started her job when Palmer had an accident which incapacitated him and left Mahaffey more or less in control. Under Mahaffey Other Worlds published some challenging stories dealing with intolerance, such as Eric Frank Russell's "Dear Devil" (May 1950), where a hideous-looking alien on a devastated Earth befriends children, and Ray Bradbury's, "Way in the Middle of the Air" (July 1950), one of his Martian Chronicles stories where the African-American people from the southern states of the USA decide to leave and set up a new community on Mars. In "If Ye Have Faith" (July 1951), Lester del Rey considers how humans might perceive a god-like Alien. As counterbalance the magazine also began the delightful Hoka series by Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson, starting with "Heroes Are Made" (May 1951) and featuring the friendly, teddy-bear-like aliens who like to emulate humans but can't distinguish fact from fiction. Other Worlds also published material by Fredric Brown, Wilson Tucker and A E van Vogt, and serialized L Sprague de Camp's nonfiction Lost Continents (October 1952-July 1953; 1954).

Unfortunately for Palmer, despite the good material Other Worlds published and some beautiful covers by Hannes Bok, James B Settles and Malcolm Smith, Palmer was too closely associated with Shaver, and the magazine never rid itself of that stigma. Other Worlds suffered during the sf magazine boom years of 1952-1953, and bills went unpaid. To get out of debt Palmer sold the more profitable Fate to his business partner and suspended Other Worlds after #31, July 1953. Palmer set up a new company, Bell Publications, and launched two new magazines, Universe Science Fiction and Science Stories. It is possible to regard Science Stories (October 1953-April 1954) as a continuation of Other Worlds, the title change allowing him to duck some inconvenient printing bills, but Science Stories's numeration began again from #1. Universe confuses the story further. Palmer edited the first two issues, June and September 1953, under cover of George Bell; with issue #3 (December 1953), Palmer became officially its editor and publisher. After ten issues (the last was March 1955) the title of Universe Science Fiction was changed to Other Worlds Science Stories, and at this point the magazine's numeration followed both magazines (the first new Other Worlds being #11 [32] May 1955, meaning the 11th Universe and the 32nd Other Worlds). In this final guise Other Worlds became even more detached from the sf magazine mainstream, publishing material by Hal Annas and Stuart J Byrne that wallowed in new mythologies. Palmer predictably defied convention by switching Other Worlds back to Pulp format from the November 1955 issue. Perhaps the most interesting story in its final phase was Falcons of Narabedla (May 1957; 1964 dos) by Marion Zimmer Bradley, later loosely linked to the Darkover sequence, but an interesting example of Bradley's development in its reworking of The Dark World (Summer 1946 Startling; 1965) by Henry Kuttner and C L Moore.

The magazine continued for twelve issues, mostly bimonthly, until in June 1957 the title was changed again, to Flying Saucers from Other Worlds, reflecting Palmer's increasing preoccupation with UFOs. Palmer announced this as the first issue of a new magazine, but retained his original numbering and for four issues alternated between a Flying Saucers emphasis and an Other Worlds emphasis; only three of these, for June, July and September 1957, featured fiction. After this it was simply a nonfiction UFO magazine, retaining the title Flying Saucers from Other Worlds until May 1958, and then from the next issue became Flying Saucers, The Magazine of Space Conquest, then briefly Flying Saucers, The Magazine of Space Mysteries in 1961, and finally Flying Saucers, Mysteries of the Space Age. In this guise the magazine continued until June 1976. [MA/MJE/PN]


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