Pulp Science Fiction and Detective Fiction Periodical Collection
Language of Materials
The Pulp Science Fiction and Detective Fiction Periodical Collection comprises pulp science fiction and mystery serials from the 1940s to the 1980s with a concentration in the 1940s.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the genres of science fiction and detective fiction were still in their nascent forms, dominated by the influences of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, respectively. By the 1950s, many of the genre conventions now associated with both genres had been formulated and refined in the medium of pulp magazines. Monthly and bi-monthly publications like Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries (all held in the collection) as well as Weird Tales, Wonder Stories, and Black Mask (later acquired by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine) offered venues with a wide variety of topical focuses and styles in which writers could experiment and develop their craft.
With their often lurid covers and sensational subject matter, the pulps offered low-priced fantastic entertainment to their largely working class readers. However, the authors also engage directly with issues of immediate significance to their readers, including the dark side of technological development, war, population growth, and immigration. Pulp magazines offer a significant cross-section of the fantasies and concerns of working class readers of the period.
Series are organized alphabetically by publication and chronologically within each series.
- Series I: Amazing Stories
- Series II: Astounding Science Fiction
- Series III: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
- Series IV: Famous Fantastic Mysteries
- Series V: Miscellaneous Magazines
Scope and Content Note
The Fales Library's collection of pulp science fiction and mystery magazines spans five decades (1940s-1980s), and includes work by prominent figures in the history of both genres. The issues in the collection offer researchers the opportunity both to chart the development of genre conventions on a large-scale basis and to track the literary development of major authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, John Dickson Carr, and Robert Bloch.
The collection holds large runs of Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries in addition to odd issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and single issues of Galaxy and Fantastic Adventures.
The materials collected in each magazine vary from serialized reprintings of previously published novels in Famous Fantastic Mysteries to the original stories and science writing found in Astounding Science Fiction. Each magazine offers a different version of its genre. In the science fiction magazines researchers will find a clear contrast between John W. Campell's insistence that stories published in Astounding be based on plausible science and the more fantastic premises shared by contributions to Amazing Stories. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine offers an interesting view of the development of mystery novel conventions in that it began with an emphasis on the logical, contemplative detectives of Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, and Dorothy Sayers but later expanded into the field of the hardboiled mystery with the acquisition of Black Mask in May 1953. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine was also concerned with locating precursors of detective fiction in little known tales by figures like Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman. Famous Fantastic Mysteries stretched genre definitions bringing together authors as diverse as H. G. Wells, H. Rider Haggard, G. K. Chesterton, and Jack London between its covers.
The forties materials in the collection are especially interesting as a cross section of popular culture during World War Two. Many Astounding authors had served in the military and the magazine's science features focus on keeping up with military technologies during the war years. Furthermore, many of these journals would have been read by members of the armed forces (issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in the collection from May 1944 to April 1946 are marked "Overseas edition for the Armed Forces").
SERIES I: Amazing Stories
Created by editor Hugo Gernsback in 1926, Amazing Stories was the first pulp completely dedicated to publishing science fiction. The collection holds an incomplete run of issues from the forties (June 1940 to January 1947) during the tenures of editors B.G. Davis (1940-1946) and Raymond A. Palmer (1946-1949). For the period represented in the collection, Amazing Stories was published on a monthly basis with the exception of the period from September 1943 until May 1946, in which it was a bimonthly. Notable authors represented in the collection include Robert Bloch, E. E. Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
SERIES II: Astounding Science Fiction
Under the editorial direction of John W. Campbell (1938-1971) Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog Science Fiction) was especially known for its commitment to scientifically accurate science fiction, manifested both in the fiction and the popular science writing collected in each issue. Astounding published the first works of Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard and Lester del Rey and important work by Isaac Asimov, Ted Sturgeon and many others. The collection features an incomplete run of issues from October 1940 until February 1955.
SERIES III: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine was launched in the fall of 1941 by Lawrence E. Spivak of The Mercury Press. It was heralded as the brainchild of Ellery Queen himself, really the two-cousin writing team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee. Dannay served as editor-in-chief, under the name of Ellery Queen, from 1941 until his death in 1982. Throughout its history the magazine has featured a mixture of original work and reprints of authors such as Rudyard Kipling, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, and Alice Walker. The collection features an incomplete run of issues from May 1943 to March 1961. In this period the magazine was published on a bimonthly basis from May 1943 to March 1945 and on a monthly basis subsequently. Issues from May 1944 to April 1946 are marked "Overseas edition for the Armed Forces."
SERIES IV: Famous Fantastic Mysteries
Famous Fantastic Mysteries was founded to reprint fantasy and SF material from the old Frank A. Munsey magazines (Argosy, All-Story, etc.). Some novels were serialized in the early issues, until the companion Fantastic Novels was started and began publishing complete novels. After FFM was bought by Popular Pubs in 1943, the fiction policy changed to the reprinting of novels that had previously appeared only in book form, such as works by H.G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard. The collection holds an incomplete run of issues from March 1940 to February 1949.
SERIES V: Miscellaneous Magazines
Collects four issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from the seventies and eighties and single issues of Galaxy and Fantastic Adventures.
Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-998-2596.
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections, email@example.com, 212-998-2596.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Pulp Science Fiction and Detective Fiction Periodical Collection; MSS 145; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections; New York University Libraries.
The materials were gathered from various sources over a period of time from 1957-1990.
There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.