Lost in a World of Mystery and Science Fiction
April 15, 2017
Fate Magazine covered the gamut of outer space, robots, alternative medicine, mental telepathy, ghosts and other paranormal topics.
In the early 1980s I got an exciting piece of mail. It was a letter that said my short article about The Mysterious Floating Bride had been accepted for publication in Fate Magazine. This is almost as good as it gets for a fledgling writer. That reminds me of # 1,239 in my personal head-file of mysterious and bizarre characters—Ray Palmer.
Raymond A. Palmer was born in 1910 in Milwaukee. When he was about seven, he was hit by a truck. The resulting fracture of his spine caused him to cease growing much, and also created a hump on his upper back. This may have caused what happened next. Ray began to lose himself in science fiction books and magazines. Was it a form of escapism caused by the disfiguring accident, or would the escapism have happened anyway? As an adult, he was barely four feet tall.
Science Fiction became his life and he became (along with Walter Dennis) the editor of the first Science Fiction fanzine, The Comet, 1930. In 1938, Ziff-Davis Publishing bought Amazing Stories and production was then set up in Chicago. Palmer had become so recognized in the Science Fiction community that he was offered the job as editor. Not only did he succeed, he began publication of a companion magazine, Fantastic Adventures. Space adventures were one of Palmer’s favorite subject matters, and he was able to purchase, Marooned Off Vesta, Isaac Asimov’s first entry into professional writing.
Another of his favorite subjects was the idea that insane inhabitants of the hollow earth were dominating it. The Shaver Mystery stories were built around this supposition and ran as serials in his magazines.
In 1949, Ray Palmer and Curtis Fuller co-founded Fate Magazine which covered the gamut of outer space, robots, alternative medicine, mental telepathy, ghosts and other paranormal topics. All of the magazines with which Palmer was connected had fantastic covers—the flying saucer cover for Fate may be the best, and it jet-propelled the young magazine into the national spotlight. The covers were provocative. Palmer also developed Mystic Magazine and Flying Saucer Magazine. If it was pulp-y, about eerie subjects, and had a great cover, Palmer was probably behind it.
Palmer also wrote some of the fiction stories, himself. One, Mr. Yellow Jacket was featured on the cover of Other Worlds Science Stories.
The Man From Mars by Fred Nadis (a pulp scholar) is an interesting book about Ray Palmer and all of the pies in which Palmer had fingers. One of the book blurbs says about Ray, “he was a hustler, a trickster, and a visionary.” He was a driving force in the supernatural pulp publishing industry of the 1940s and 1950s. Nadis paints a wonderful biological picture of Palmer in The Man From Mars, 290 pages and it is available in PB, HC and Kindle.
Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Curious Indeed, a collection of stories about the unknown and unexplained. Please click HERE to purchase Curious Indeed.