When it comes to artists I think that Wesso takes the cake, especially in drawing machinery, etc. However, Gould is good on people and inanimate things, and I don't think you should drop him as many seem to wish. I like Wesso's covers very much, and I don't think they are too gaudy for a magazine like yours.
I like nearly all Science Fiction stories if they are written well, but especially I lean toward interplanetary, atomic adventure and prehistoric stories. I do not care so much for murders, wars, mind control, etc. I notice that you have never printed a story of prehistoric conditions existing at present on some part of the earth or universe, and I would like to see one of this type. I like serials only if they do not get boresome; and a lot of them do. That is the trouble. I think that the love interest in your stories is a good point, and should be encouraged in your authors. And I also think there should be more interplanetary friendship than hatred, and that the heroes should fight beasts rather than men, as a rule, in your stories.
Just one more thing before I close. I think that Astounding Stories should have more than one department. I would like to see a list of scientific terms defined each month; a department for answering scientific questions; and some kind of fraternity of Science Fiction Readers with membership cards, some kind of emblems, and possibly an entrance test of some kind. Seriously, now, why not consider this and take up a vote among your Readers to see what they think? You could cut down on "The Readers' Corner" for them without using much more space, or you could enlarge the mag a little. What say?
Well, I'm about out of Z-ray so I guess I'll come back to earth and refuel with the January issue, which will be out soon. So long and good luck.—Frank Missman, Jr., V. E. R. (Very Enthusiastic Reader), 739 N. Alexandria, Los Angeles, Calif.
Gr-r-r, now I am mad! I do wish that people who want a regular instruction book of a magazine would kindly refrain from spending their valuable pennies on ours.
And if Mr. Johnston of Newark believes us who like A. S. to be morons, why let's be morons! for when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. I'd like to inform this highly intelligent person that our mag is dealing with pure Science Fiction, and why should any author go into detail describing how cities are made to float and why invisible cloaks are invisible? Why, if every paragraph were broken off to let us know how this or that is possible, I'm sure we'd all be yawning and nodding over the magazine, and finally discard it entirely in search of something more to our liking!
Why waste your time, Mr. Johnston, telling us you don't like A. S.? Just don't purchase it, if it isn't to your liking. We're satisfied with what we have.
What if the stories are like fairy tales? Isn't all fiction more or less of a fairy tale? I want Mr. Johnston to get this point: what we want is fiction, pure Science Fiction and not instructions. We read A. S. as a pleasure. We do not have to be scientists just because we are interested in science!
"The Wall of Death" was grand. It's somewhat terrorizing and gruesome, but I get a big "kick" out of such horrors. However, I hope nothing like that would ever happen, 'cause I'm 18 years old, and I'd be among the first ones to be chosen for those mad half-human jelly-fishes, without a doubt.
I shudder to think that meteors could be hurled from one planet to another and then have some kind of machine, with people in it, on the inside of the meteor. But the hero of "The Gray Plague" surely proved himself a hero, in spite of his handicap. I relish the idea of that Venusian instrument, by which one can learn all from another within a few minutes. Something for our students who cannot seem to learn anything.
Here's one point that I don't like: Why are all those invaders from other planets hostile? Why can't they go on an exploring expedition to our Earth? C'm'on, you Authors—get busy!
"The Pirate Planet" has me all hot and bothered, and my brain in a muddle how any craft of such dimension can move through space with such speed. As the story has just started, I can't say much about it, but here's hoping the captured hero conquers the hostile invaders and comes home with bells on and colors flying, as all good stories should end.
That Sargasso Sea, in "Vagabonds of Space," reminds me of a Halloween ghost. And it was just as bad as a ghost, too. After having been scattered once, it just coolly collects itself into twice its size. Br-r-r—that gives me the chills. Howsoever, nevertheless, be that as it may, I will say that I liked it so much that I'm asking for more like it.
Another word to ye Authors: Please do not always have the girls in your stories such sweet little bundles of humanity. Aren't there any tall girls in your imaginations? Please give us tall girls a break once in a while. It makes me feel better. Thanks.—Gertrude Hemken, 5730 So. Oshland Ave., Chicago, Ill.
"Also Amazed ... But—"
Since my good friend, Forrest Ackerman has undertaken to suggest an author whose works would be enjoyed by your readers, I will add two more to your "should have" list. They are Francis Flagg, an author who is freely engraved in the minds of all Science Fiction lovers as a genius at writing time-traveling and dimensional stories, and Jack Williamson, a shark for new plots and inventions and one who knows how to put romance into a story.
Although I doubt whether the Editor himself can secure stories from these two famed authors, (Wrong! At this time we have two or three stories by Jack Williamson waiting their turn to be published!—Ed.) I hope they may see our wants and favor us with a tale in the near future.
I agree with George E. Addison in that Miles J. Bruer is a "wow" in other magazines, but I emphatically disagree in that he does not belong in Astounding Stories. Maybe "A Problem in Communication" wasn't as good as some others he has written, but do you think he will honor us with a real good story if he, himself, gets such a welcome as Mr. Addison gave him? If you have faith in "the good old Doc," I am sure he will feel encouraged and consequently be spurred to greater heights.
As for Mr. C. E. Bush: I am also amazed by some of the letters in "The Readers' Corner," but not from those who take their literature too seriously. Rather, from those who write letters such as his. If he doesn't care whether a story is scientifically possible or not, why, then, doesn't he read Anderson's Fairy Tales or some of the Oz books?—Jim H. Nicolson, 40 Lunado Way, San Francisco, Calif.
"Shrewd," Yet Somehow Obtuse!
I like your magazine. By this, I do not mean that it is the best Science Fiction periodical, for it assuredly is not; but it is the most reliable. I am sure when I pick up your magazine that I shall find therein consistently interesting stories. I have yet to find a story that failed to hold my attention; on the other hand, I have yet to find a masterpiece. Of all the Editors, you have shown yourself the shrewdest judge of public taste, but also the least interested in the advancement of Science Fiction.
Your authors are among the leading lights in Science Fiction; yet, strangely, the days when they submit their offerings to Astounding Stories seem to be "off days." Not one of them has given us a story to equal his best for the other magazines. For instance, Ray Cummings has yet to write a story for you as entertaining as "The Girl in the Golden Atom" or his others. Speaking of Cummings, I wish he would take a course in grammar. His grammatical atrocities—such as sentences without predicates—are eye-wracking.
The main purpose of this letter, however, is to offer a fervent plea for reprints. I am unalterably opposed to your short-sighted policy in regard to the reprinting of old Science Fiction tales long out of print. You made an utterly asinine statement when you declared that 99 per cent of your readers have already read these classics. [We did not say that. We said: "Would it be fair to 99 per cent of our Readers to force on them reprint novels they have already read, or had a chance to read?"—Ed.] I am willing to wager that the percentage is nearer 10 per cent. For instance, can a baby read magazines? You seem to grant them this strange ability.
Most of the stories that should be reprinted were published from eight to fifteen years ago, in one other magazine. That automatically excludes all those who have not been constant Readers of that one magazine. In the second place, the average Reader of your magazine is under twenty-one (I am eighteen myself). When the science classics were published, we were anywhere from four to ten years of age. In the third place, relatively few of these stories were published in book form, and these few have for years been out of print. Try to buy "The Moon Pool," the greatest Science Fiction story ever written, in book form. In the fourth place, even those who were old enough to understand them did not become interested in Science Fiction until several years ago. In the fifth place, the few who have read them—and they are very few—would welcome the chance to re-read them. In the sixth place, and this is the most important reason of all, not one of the stories you have published is worth re-reading, or is even a sixteenth as good as some of the old stories.
Take a sporting offer. If you don't, I won't think much of you. Publish just one of the Science Fiction classics, preferably A. Merritt's "Through the Dragon Class," which so many of your Readers have clamored for and see how gratifying is its reception. If it does receive their acclaim, you could reprint one story in each issue.—J. Vernon Shea, Jr., 1140 N. Negley Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa.
I have been a satisfied and silent reader of your magazine, and while I'm still satisfied, I wish to break my silence.
A letter by C.E. Bush, of Decatur, Ark., in the January issue has caught my attention. Miss Bush apparently does not care whether the stories contain science or not. I believe she wants the author to leave out the scientific explanations of the various machines and forces used in the story. To me, an "improbable" story is much more interesting if the author succeeds in making it seem perfectly plausible. The author needs to give technical explanations now and then to do this; and a good author can weave these facts into the fiction in such a manner that they are not dry.
For some reason, the letter by M. Clifford Johnston, of Newark, N. J., antagonizes me. I am willing to admit that there are—or were—one or two stories that showed a definite lack of scientific explanation in certain parts, yet I do not believe that all the issues can be condemned because of these few stories. Mr. Johnston is apparently the opposite of Miss Bush. He, from the "sound" of his letter, revels in scientific explanations. On the whole I've enjoyed practically every story, and am thankful to you for your magazine. I believe that most of the authors have found the right formula for mixing their explanations with the story so that such technical discussions are complete without being dry.
I enjoy the novelettes more than either the short stories or the serials. The serials are all right, but a month is too long to let the hero or heroine suffer. Imagine how WE suffer, too, from the suspense!
If either Miss Bush or Mr. Johnston feel that they have been misunderstood and wronged in any way I shall be glad to either apologize or vindicate myself in a personal letter to them.
May Astounding Stories continue to improve!—Ben Smith, Box 1542, Butte, Montana.
Fiction's the Thing!
Hurrah for Mr. Lorenzo's letter in January's "The Readers' Corner"! For a half year already, all other Science Fiction magazines have had to struggle along without my patronage, also. For the same reason as Mr. Lorenzo gives, I want to heartily congratulate you, Mr. Editor, on your magazine.
I have read Science Fiction stories since the first magazine of its kind ever appeared in print. They started out good, but in the last few years have utterly degenerated into a collection of dry, drawn-out lectures.
Also, C. E. Bush's letter should be rated as 100 per cent correct. We want FICTION mixed with some science, and above all a good plot and lots of action; and if your authors feel so inclined, let them weave a romance into the stories, too. "We read stories to be amused, not for technical information." I am a radio operator, but I wouldn't think of reading a story for information on the latest transmitter design.
Mr. Editor, your choice of authors is par excellence. I can't too highly emphasize this, because we don't want the authors who write for other Science Fiction magazines. Why? Because they can't even write a story that has a semblance of coherence or plot to it, and never any action. If you should ever use any of these writers, I shall give up Science Fiction altogether. Please, Mr. Editor, continue to run Astounding Stories yourself, and don't heed the request of a minority who want dead authors to write dead stories in our magazine.
"The Pirate Planet" is the fastest moving, best written interplanetary story I have ever read, and I've read scores. C. W. Diffin surpasses himself. "Vagabonds of Space" was great. Isn't a sequel possible?
I have your January issue before me, and although I haven't read it yet, I'm delighted to see Murray Leinster with us again. He's excellent. I can't figure out how you can afford so many top-notch authors in each issue, but keep it up, because it's the life of your magazine. As Mr. Addison says in his letter, "Why ruin a truly great magazine by catering to a misguided minority?" and printing flops by cheap writers, who are ruining other Science Fiction magazines?
Forgive me for so much repetition, Mr. Editor; run your magazine "as is" and I'll continue to be an interested reader.—P.C. Favre, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y.
I noticed in a letter in the December number of Astounding Stories that one of your Readers thinks your covers too gaudy. In fact, he blushes when he buys it. If he feels that way about it, why doesn't he subscribe to it and take the cover off when he reads it? I believe that the majority of your Readers like your covers and illustrations, and are not afraid to let people see them reading Astounding Stories.
I wish that you could have a long novelette like "The Ape-Men of Xloti" in every issue of "our" magazine. The longer stories are most always the more interesting. That is one of the reasons why I like book-length serials.
Why should Five-Novels Monthly get all the breaks? I am sure that you as the Editor of "our" magazine think Astounding Stories the best magazine published by Mr. Clayton. I should think that you would like to see it published in as good an edition as F. N. M. I am pretty sure that the majority of your Readers would not mind paying five cents more for many more pages of fiction, smooth-cut edges, and a better grade of paper.—Jack Darrow, 4225 N. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
"The Readers' Corner"
All Readers are extended a sincere and cordial invitation to "come over in 'The Readers' Corner'," and join in our monthly discussion of stories, authors, scientific principles and possibilities—everything that's of common interest in connection with our Astounding Stories.
Although from time to time the Editor may make a comment or so, this is a department primarily for Readers, and we want you to make full use of it. Likes, dislikes, criticisms, explanations, roses, brickbats, suggestions—everything's welcome here; so "come over in 'The Readers' Corner'" and discuss it with all of us!
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