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Super Science Stories

Entry updated 21 August 2012. Tagged: Publication.


1. US Pulp magazine which ran in two series for a total of 31 issues. Both series were run by Popular Publications, New York, the first under their imprint Fictioneers, Inc, which allowed them to pay cheaper word rates: 16 issues March 1940 to May 1943, with three consecutive 1941 issues (March, May and August) titled Super Science Novels; edited by Frederik Pohl until August 1941, then Ejler Jakobsson. The magazine was revived by Popular Publications, continuing the old volume numeration, for 15 more issues January 1949 to August 1951, edited again by Ejler Jakobsson, with Damon Knight assistant on some issues. In both incarnations the magazine varied between quarterly and bimonthly.

Super Science Stories began as a companion to Astonishing Stories, featuring standard pulp adventure sf, with slightly longer stories. It was an important market for the Futurian group, Pohl buying a good deal of material from himself (including many of his early collaborations with C M Kornbluth) and early stories by Isaac Asimov, Richard Wilson and Donald Wollheim. It published James Blish's first story, "Emergency Refueling" (March 1940), and his much superior "Sunken Universe" (May 1942) as by Arthur Merlyn, the first of what would become his Pantropy series. The most notable story was Genus Homo (March 1941; rev 1950) by L Sprague de Camp and P Schuyler Miller. The magazine also published Wilson Tucker's first story "Interstellar Way-Station" (May 1941 Super Science Novels). The second incarnation carried on much as before and though it was only six years later already seemed rather dated. Nevertheless it was able to run some good material by Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury and Arthur C Clarke alongside John D MacDonald and Chad Oliver, publishing his debut story, "The Land of Lost Content" (November 1950). It published some intelligent literary book reviews. Super Science Stories never really established itself as a major market. Yet its material was of good quality, especially towards the end when under Damon Knight's influence it started to mature rather rapidly, though not rapidly enough compared to other markets. Popular Publications was having financial problems as the pulp market started to crumble and Super Science Stories was an early casualty.

There were two series of UK reprints: Thorpe & Porter reprinted 3 whole issues in 1949-1950; and Pembertons published 14 consecutively numbered issues of selections from both versions of the US magazine 1950-1953. [MA]

2. The Canadian edition, published by Popular Publications, Toronto, began as a straight reprint edition but continued publication for two years after the first US version ceased, publishing 21 issues in all from August 1942 to December 1945, the last five under the title Super Science and Fantastic Stories. From August 1942 to February 1944 the Canadian Super Science Stories drew its material in alternate issues from the US Super Science Stories and Astonishing Stories. From the April 1944 issue onwards some original stories were used (11 in all), including "The Black Sun Rises" (June 1944) by Henry Kuttner – later used to relaunch the US second series in January 1949 – but mostly it ran stories from the Popular Publications reprint magazine Famous Fantastic Mysteries, making it a most unusual hybrid. It is worth highlighting that it was the Canadian edition that gave first publication to James Blish's "The Bounding Crown" (December 1944) and to Ray Bradbury's "And Then – the Silence" (October 1944), both later run in the January 1949 US edition, Bradbury's story as "The Silence". When the US edition was restarted in 1949 it was initially printed in Canada. [BS/PN/MA]


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