TODAY’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE FROM THE V1N1 COLLECTION: STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES & COSMIC STORIES

Two Donald A. Wollheim edited publications today – Stirring Science Stories and Cosmic Stories, both published by Albing Publications beginning in 1941.

I’ve previously suggested that Donald A. Wollheim and his fellow Futurians are the reason that the science fiction genre and its Fandom are (or at least used to be) so intertwined.

Those guys and gals established Fan Clubs and Fanzines and then went on to become editors, publishers, authors and artists, almost every single one of them influential  on the field.   Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm would create SFWA and writer’s workshops.  Don would help bring SF to paperback land, champion numerous authors with anthologies, both reprint and original;  Bok would inspire a generation of artists.  Pohl would also edit a series of magazines offering paying markets for starving friends and would uncover numerous talents in the field.

All from humble beginnings…many of them pooling resources, living together and even subsisting on a 50 pound bag of rice for a while.

From the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

“At one point in the earliest 1940s, approximately half of all the pulp SF and fantasy magazines in the U.S. were being edited by Futurians: Frederik Pohl at the Popular Publications offshoot Fictioneers, Inc. (Astonishing Stories and Super-Science Stories); Robert Lowndes at Columbia Publications, most notably with Science Fiction and Future Fiction (though through the decade to come, Lowndes’s responsibilities would expand to other types of fiction magazine in the chain), and Donald Wollheim at the very marginal Albing Publications with the short-lived, micro-budgeted Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories (Wollheim soon moved on to Avon Books; Doë “Leslie Perri” Baumgardt also worked on a romance fiction title for Albing). Most of these projects had small editorial budgets, and relied in part, or occasionally entirely, on contributions from fellow Futurians for their contents.”

(Maybe I ought to feature “all of the Futurian magazines” at some point.)

Authors were paid half a cent a word “if the magazine was successful” (which it was not, Stirring managing all of four issues, Cosmic, three), but those magazines did give a good handful of writers a leg up, at the very least letting them claim prior sales.

That boost would start so many of them on long and storied careers, ones that continue to influence the genre to this day, it is difficult to imagine that anything would have come of this science fiction thing if it hadn’t been for this crew.

Here’s a (probably) complete list of The Futurians’ members, just for edification:

Isaac Asimov
Elise Balter (aka Elsie Wollheim)
James Blish
Hannes Bok
Daniel Burford
Chester Cohen
Rosalind Cohen (later married Wylie)
Harry Dockweiler (aka Dirk Wylie)
Jack Gillespie
Virginia Kidd
Damon Knight
Cyril Kornbluth
Mary Byers (married Kornbluth)
Walter Kubilius
David Kyle
Herman Leventman
Robert A. W. Lowndes
Judith Merril
John Michel
Frederik Pohl
Leslie Perri, a pseudonym of Doris “Doë” Baumgardt
Jack Rubinson
Larry Shaw
Richard Wilson
Donald A. Wollheim

You’ve got authors, artists, agents, publishers and politicians in there.

The contents of both magazine’s first issues are also instructive.  Note the names and then  compare it to the list of Futurian members:

STIRRING SCIENCE STORIES, FEBRUARY, 1941 TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Dead Center • novelette by C. M. Kornbluth
Lunar Gun • short story by John L. Chapman
Golden Nemesis • short story by David A. Kyle
Rocket Mail • essay by uncredited
Resilience • short story by Damon Knight
Citadel of Thought • short story by James Blish
Today Rather Than Tomorrow • essay by uncredited
Strange Return • novelette by Donald A. Wollheim
The Vortex essay by Donald A. Wollheim
Thirteen O’Clock • novelette by C. M. Kornbluth
bones • short story by Donald A. Wollheim
Old Trinity Churchyard (5 A. M. Spring) • poem by A. Merritt
The Key to Cornwall • short story by David H. Keller, M.D.
Out of the Jar • short story by Charles R. Tanner
The Devotee of Evil • short story by Clark Ashton Smith
The Abyss • short story by Robert A. W. Lowndes
Always Comes Evening • poem by Robert E. Howard
The Fantasy World • essay by Donald A. Wollheim

and

COSMIC STORIES, MARCH, 1941, TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Mecanica • novella by Frank Edward Arnold
The Martians Are Coming • short story by C. M. Kornbluth and Robert A. W. Lowndes and Donald A. Wollheim
Man and the Machine: An Editorial • essay by Donald A. Wollheim
Crystal World • short story by John L. Chapman
Gravity Reversed • essay by uncredited
The Man from the Future • short story by Donald A. Wollheim
Return from M-15 • novelette by C. M. Kornbluth
The Cosmian League • essay by uncredited
Planet Leave • short story by Clifton B. Kruse
The Secret Sense • short story by Isaac Asimov
Worlds in Exile • poem by Frederik Pohl
The Last Viking • short story by John B. Michel
Ambition • poem by Robert A. W. Lowndes
Purple Dandelions • short story by Donald A. Wollheim
The Rocket • poem by Damon Knight
The Reversible Revolutions • short story by C. M. Kornbluth
Biped • short story by Basil Wells
New Directions • essay by C. M. Kornbluth
The Cosmoscope • [The Cosmoscope • essay by Donald A. Wollheim
Fantasy Fan Magazines • essay by uncredited

Looks like the rent got paid in February and March of 1941….

Cosmic Stories cover is by Leo Morey, who would definitely go on to do better things.  Stirring’s cover is also by Morey and it is often remarked that the airlock door would not seal properly.  Ooops!

Here they are:

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