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Universe Science Fiction

Entry updated 26 April 2017. Tagged: Publication.


US Digest magazine, ten numbered issues June 1953 to March 1955; the first two published by Bell Publications, Chicago, the rest by Palmer Publications, Evanston; #1-#2 edited by George Bell (ghost-edited by Raymond A Palmer and Bea Mahaffey), the rest edited (officially) by Palmer and Mahaffey.

This was a companion magazine to Palmer's Science Stories, and both were really outgrowths of Other Worlds, whose last issue in its first incarnation was dated July 1953. Palmer had taken advantage of a local businessman's desire to start a science-fiction magazine – hence the use of an editorial alias for the first issues of Universe – but when the businessman lost interest, Palmer took over the magazine. Eventually, when he decided to restart Other Worlds he continued with the issue numbering sequence of Universe.

Fewer than usual of the contributors were the Chicago hacks so regularly employed by Palmer, so the fiction was a bit better than his average; this was chiefly because Mahaffey was more or less left to edit Universe herself. Authors included Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, L Sprague de Camp, Gordon Dickson, Zenna Henderson, Judith Merril, Chad Oliver, Eric Frank Russell, Margaret St Clair, Theodore Sturgeon and Wilson Tucker. Asimov used to enjoy saying that the whole premise of his story, "Everest" (December 1953), was ruined because by the time the story appeared Mount Everest had been climbed. Probably the most important story to appear in the magazine was "The World Well Lost" (June 1953) by Theodore Sturgeon, with its controversially sympathetic treatment of homosexuality. Mahaffey's editing of the magazine was fine, but over time Palmer's influence began to intrude; by half way through the run the quality had declined and eventually Palmer converted it back into Other Worlds. [PN]


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