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Tales of Wonder

Entry updated 6 February 2023. Tagged: Publication.


UK Pulp magazine, sixteen issues [Summer] 1937 to Spring 1942, quarterly to 1940, thereafter slightly irregular, numbered consecutively, the first undated. Published by World's Work, London; edited by Walter Gillings.

Tales of Wonder, though preceded in 1934 by the sf Boys' Paper, Scoops, was the first adult UK sf magazine, and the use of the term "science fiction" on the cover of its first issue may represent the first use of that term to designate the contents of a professional magazine in the UK. Tales of Wonder. It used both original UK and reprinted US material, and prospered until wartime paper restrictions and the drafting of the editor caused its demise; most of its original covers were by the underrated Wilfred Joseph Roberts. Both Frank Edward Arnold and Arthur C Clarke made their professional debuts here, Clarke with the two articles "Man's Empire of Tomorrow" (Winter 1938) and "We Can Rocket to the Moon – Now!" (Summer 1939). Stories included "Sleepers of Mars" (Spring 1938) by John Beynon – title story of Sleepers of Mars (coll 1973) as by John Wyndham – and three by William F Temple, of which "The Smile of the Sphinx" (Autumn 1938) – where Cats are discovered to be Aliens observing humans – was one of the most popular stories the magazine published. Also memorable was "I, Spy!" (Autumn 1940; vt "Venturer of the Martian Mimics" March 1947 Weird Tales) by Eric Frank Russell. Other British writers included John Russell Fearn, Benson Herbert and Festus Pragnell. Notable US reprints, gaining their first UK publication, included "The Mad Planet" (12 June 1920 Argosy Weekly; Spring 1939) by Murray Leinster and "The City of the Singing Flame" (July 1931 Wonder Stories; Spring 1940) by Clark Ashton Smith. Gillings also reprinted several stories by the Australian-born, UK-resident writer R Coutts Armour, but did not let on to readers that these were over twenty years old. John F Burke also sold his first story, "Before the Flood", to Tales of Wonder; the magazine folded before it could be published. [FHP/PN/MA]


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