Today’s Favorite Magazine From The V1N1 Collection: Amazing Forries

Amazing Stories has had numerous title variations, from the original “Amazing Stories”, to the lengthy “Amazing Stories Combined with Fantastic Stories” and variations of differing lengths in-between – Amazing Science Fiction, Amazing Science Fiction Stories, Amazing Science Fiction Stories Combined with Fantastic, Amazing SF and even simply Amazing (a 1950s test “ashcan” issue for trademark purposes).  Not to mention Amazing Stories Annual, Amazing Stories Quarterly and Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novel.

There have also been several other magazines that have used the initial word – Amazing Adventures, Amazing Journeys Magazine, Amazing Science Stories – and a host of “Amazing Bible” or similar titles given to books and other publications over the years.

There was also a one-off that, if only based on current asking prices, is very popular with collectors and that would be Forrest J. Ackerman’s semi-autobiographical tribute to the magazine, which was an early influence on the budding “Number 1 Fan” – Amazing Forries –

Amazing Stories October 1926 by Frank R. Paul, illustrating Beyond the Pole by A. Hyatt Verrill

Sub-titled “This is Your Life FORREST J ACKERMAN”, the cover is an altered version of the October, 1926 Frank R. Paul Amazing Stories cover. It also depicts Forrest in an enhanced version of the “Futuricostume” he wore to the first World Science Fiction convention in 1939, and rendered as an early Frank R. Paul illustrated character. (Note the “4SJ+” on the side of the ship, an homage to Gernsback’s Ralph 124C41+   character.  Ackerman, like Gernsback, enjoyed word play, portmanteau word-making and puns.  Which means that we can probably rope Gernsback in as at least a contributor to 4SJ’s creation of the “Sci Fi” nickname.)

A young 4SJ posing with the first issue of Amazing Stories

Ackerman’s involvement with science fiction began when he was young and precocious.  There’s a contemporary newspaper article about him and his plans to collect all of the StF magazines he can find (all 15 or so of them at that time).  Here’s an illustration of him reading the very first issue of the magazine.

This magazine was produced by Ackerman while he was working at Warren Publications (where he edited Famous Monsters of Filmland, Spacemen and other magazines), and is believed to have been partly funded by that company.

Forrest was a “wunderkind”, an enthusiastic promoter of the genre and, sometimes, a pain in the ass to those who he was trying to “help”.  Ackerman was an editor, writer, agent, Fan and collector.  His first published Fanac was a letter in the Fall, 1929 issue of Science Wonder Quarterly (the first issue of that title and one that is in the V1N1 Collection) –

“The Reader Speaks

Due to the flood of letters on Science Wonder Stories from our readers we have been unable to print as many as we would wish in the regular monthly issues. We therefore take pleasure in printing herewith many letters that we want to call to the attention of our readers.

In future issues of Science Wonder Quarterly, however, only letters that refer to stories published in the Quarterly will be printed. All editorial communications regarding the Quarterly should be addressed to Editor, Science Wonder Quarterly.

A New Method of Evaluation

Editor, Science Wonder Quarterly:

Although I am only twelve years old, I have taken a delight in reading the magazines you have published for almost the last four years.

This is my idea of Science Wonder Stories :

Take every word that means excellent out of the largest dictionary in the world, multiply those words by the number of seconds in two thousand centuries, and add to that amount the number of stars in the heavens and the answer will give you a very slight idea of what I think of your magazine.

I have read the “Science Fiction Series” and think them great. I can assure any reader of “our” magazine that he is missing a rare treat if he does not send for them.

I am very pleased to see you are going to publish a Quarterly. I hope the stories in it are as good as the ones in the Monthly.

What is the matter with Edgar Rice Burroughs? He hasn’t written for “our” magazine for several years.

“The Book Reviews,” “The Reader Speaks,” “Science News of the Month,” “The Questionnaire,” type of the stories and name of the book all meet with my approval.

And as for Paul’s pictures. When better pictures are drawn Paul will draw them.

I think the idea of printing the authors’ pictures is a fine idea as it allows us to become better acquainted with them.

Why was there no picture of Mr. Keller at the head of “The Human Termites” in the September issue?

Come on now readers, let’s give Science Wonder Stories a big yell. HIP, HIP, HIP, HURRA YYYYYY.

Forrest Ackerman,

San Francisco, Cal.

(The method of evaluating our magazines strains our mathematical capacities somewhat. We know that it means “good” ; we leave it to one of our mathematical experts to give us the correct answers. Dr. Keller’s picture will appear hereafter. Due to the special presentation of the first installment no room could be found for his picture. — Editor).” Emphasis added.

Ackerman was born on November 24, 1916.  He would have been 12 in November of 1928, a full year before this issue was published.  He would have been 8 in 1924, and Science Wonder Stories did not begin publication until mid-1929, so it is likely that his letter was actually referencing Amazing Stories…or Forrest was engaging in a little bit of his own “speculation”.

Science Fiction Series from Stellar Publishing Corporation, 1929 – a pamphlet offered through Science Wonder Stories

He also mentions the “Science Fiction Series” (a rare item currently not in the collection), which was also not available during the time frame claimed by Ackerman.

I received my copy of this magazine directly from Forrest’s own hands, while sitting on a bench just outside of Suncon’s Blood Drive.  Immediately before sitting down with Forrest for a lengthy discussion of Fandom, the state of the field and my own enthusiasm for the genre, I had been introduced to Robert and Virginia Heinlein.  It was quite the heady moment for me – meeting its Number One practitioner and then hanging with the genre’s “Number 1 Fan”.

Ackerman was very influential on early Fandom, working on and contributing to Fanzines, helping to get fans to the Worldcon in New York.  So much so that he was voted the first (and only) Hugo Award for Number 1 Fan Personality in 1953.




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