The World’s Second (and Third) Science Fiction Magazines

Following the bankruptcy of Experimenter Publishing, Hugo Gernsback almost immediately announced the creation of a new company and not one, but TWO new magazines.

He accomplished this so quickly that there were accusations that he had “stolen” mailing lists and other assets from Amazing Stories;  the courts let him slide so there must have been some kind of reasonable defense, though we’re not privy to what it was.

The summer of 1929 must have been a heady time for fans haunting the newsstands;  In June, the first issue of Science Wonder Stories appeared;  the following month, it was joined by an odd title – Air Wonder Stories.

Both featuring covers by Frank R. Paul, who Gernsback had brought with him to the new venture.

SWS is notable for, among other things, hosting the column for the Science Fiction League (which featured a Paul spaceship in its logo, the same one from a cover you will see shortly).  The league was intended to mirror the same kind of membership/marketing/social networking role that Gernsback had established for radio enthusiasts – but Fans would have none of it, preferring to establish independent, non-commercially oriented clubs.

Air Wonder is interesting in focusing exclusive on stories based on the development of one specific technology – albeit one that was fresh and full of wonder;  Lindbergh had completed his transatlantic flight just two years before.

The magazine was very successful initially, became the primary focus for fans, displacing Amazing to some degree.

And like Amazing, a Quarterly was introduced –

and here’s the SFL’s logo –

Air Wonder would last less than a year, merging with Science Wonder in 1930;  during that same year the name would change to Wonder Stories, and the quarterly would follow:

The quarterly would be discontinued in 1933 and, in 1936, the magazine, experiencing declining sales, would be sold and would again change its title:

under which name it would continue for another 20 years, until it was merged with Startling Stories in 1955 (and incidentally, offer us the longest magazine title for an SF magazine – Startling Stories combined with Thrilling Wonder and Fantastic Story –

A reprint anthology annual would be produced intermittently in 1957 and 1963 and in 2007 a revival version would be produced.

Canadian, UK and Australian and New Zealand editions were also produced.

The magazine was edited, variously, by David Lasser, Charles D. Hornig, Mort Weisinger, Oscar J. Friend. Sam Merwin, Jr., Samuel Mines and Alexander Samalman, some of whom remain recognizable and others who do not.



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