Gernsback in Life Magazine

Paul Di Filippo uncovers Life’s Barnum of the Space Age

Paul Di Filippo has uncovered Life Magazine’s 1963 profile of Hugo Gernsback (and thanks to SF Signal for bringing it to our attention).

martianLife’s view, albeit being arrived at some three decades after fandom had gotten to know him, is quite different from the legacy we’re most familiar with.

Gernsback’s importance as a popularizer of science (if not science fiction) is well recounted and credited, from his correspondence with such scientific luminaries as Tesla and Kinsey, to his early television broadcasts in New York, likely to only a handful of viewers who had constructed their receivers with parts and plans obtained from Gernsback.

From the article:

 “It is, therefore, difficult not to believe that U.S. science has been influenced in many ways by Gernsback’s extraordinary career in evangalism; certainly it has absorbed a flavor, unobtainable by any other means, simply through harboring him in its midst, like a peppercorn in a pudding, for a full half century. The effect, however, would hardly have been achieved were it not for a certain duality in Gernsback’s nature. While he is cuckoo for science and takes a Barnumlike joy in the bizarre…he is also a man of real intellect in whose mind are mated astonishing scientific intuition, an instinct for command and a shrewd if exotic sense of business.

It’s likely that uncle Hugo was far more pleased with this presentation than anything Moskowitz wrote about him.

You can read the full article by Paul O’Neil here (and check out the rest of the issue, it’s a blast from the past!)

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