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Skidmore, Joseph W

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1890-1938) US author usually considered as producing the worst-written material published in the SF Magazines, though he had some stiff competition. His first story was "Dramatis Personae" (Fall 1931 Amazing Stories Quarterly), where the last two survivors of the human race try to start new life an on alien world. Skidmore was best known, or at least most notorious, for his Posi and Nega series, which is the life story of two subatomic particles, told almost like a series of lectures, as they pass from one catastrophe to the next. The series ran from "The Romance of Posi and Nega" (September 1932 Amazing) to "A Legend of Posi and Nega" (October 1935 Amazing), and gave proof, if it were needed, that editor T O'Conor Sloane saw sf more in terms of the fairy tale.

Skidmore wrote his wife, the artist Joane Cromwell (1895-1969), into several of his stories, including "The Beetle in Amber" (November 1933 Amazing), where the happy couple undertake psychic Time Travel to the time of Dinosaurs; "The Maelstrom of Atlantis" (February-April 1936 Amazing), where the two descend Under the Sea to Atlantis; and "A World Unseen" (February-April 1936 Wonder Stories), a forerunner of Fantastic Voyage (1966), where two men are reduced in size (see Miniaturization) in order to remove a bullet from Joane's spine. Skidmore's last story was "Murder by Atom" (June 1937 Amazing). In January 1938 he was killed in a car accident. By all accounts Skidmore was an intelligent and capable man; one can only hope that he wrote these inept stories for pure fun as homages to his new wife (they married in 1931), and with no serious intent. [MA]

Joseph William Skidmore

born Los Angeles, California: 9 September 1890

died Laguna Canyon, California: 10 January 1938



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