The Facts in the Matter of Hugo Gernsback and Stanley G. Weinbaum

Author: Eric Leif Davin

So let us set the matter straight, once again.

Recently I purchased and read The Threshold of Forever, a 2017 collection of essays and reviews by well-known fiction writer, critic, and editor Darrell Schweitzer, published by his Wildside Press. In it was his essay, “Why Stanley G. Weinbaum Still Matters” (originally published in NYRSF #255, November 2009). I was disappointed upon reading it because, while it makes a strong case for its title point about why Weinbaum still matters, it repeats once again the allegation that Hugo Gernsback paid “absolutely nothing” for the six Weinbaum stories including “A Martian Odyssey,” which appeared in the July 1934 Wonder Stories. The only evidence cited for this claim was the assertion in Mike Ashley and Robert A. W. Lowndes’s 2004 Wildside Press book, The Gernsback Days (wherein Ashley wrote the Weinbaum material).

This widespread assertion, however, alleged by Ashley and repeated by Schweitzer (and no doubt many others), simply is not true. In fact, Gernsback paid Weinbaum for all of his stories published in Wonder Stories, including “The Martian Odyssey.”

This fact was made clear more than a quarter of a century ago in the special “Weinbaum Memorial Issue” of A. Langley’s Searles’ Fantasy Commentator, fall 1991. In that issue I published my 1988 interview with Margaret Weinbaum Kay, Stanley Weinbaum’s widow, which also appeared in my 1999 book, Pioneers of Wonder. In that same issue, Sam Moskowitz published his definitive essay, “The Marketing of Stanley G. Weinbaum,” based upon his examination of two documentary collections: The complete financial records of the Schwartz-Weisinger Literary Agency, which represented Weinbaum in most of his sf sales after “A Martian Odyssey” (and of which Moskowitz had photocopies), and Stanley Weinbaum’s business correspondence, then in the possession of the family and now in the Special Collections Department of Temple University…

Eric Leif Davin lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Full article at: Eric Leif Davin: The Facts in the Matter of Hugo Gernsback and Stanley G. Weinbaum

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