“A fairly good time capsule of sf starting to become a genre of its own, and “Amazing Stories” in particular. ,,, for the pulp fiction fan, this will be an interesting and fun read And all of 1940’s covers are reprinted on this anthology’s back cover.” –Amazon review.
1940 was an important year for Amazing Stories—and for its new editor, Raymond A. Palmer. For Palmer it was the culmination of his dream to create a stable of new science fiction writers for Amazing, the way John W. Campbell Jr. had done two years earlier with such spectacular success at Astounding Stories. Palmer gathered Don Wilcox, Robert Moore Williams, the highly underrated Rog Phillips, David Wright O’Brien, David Vern Reed (of Batman fame), Chester. S. Geier, the Livingston brothers (Herbert and Berkeley), Leroy Yerxa, Frances Deegan, Richard S. Shaver, and others quite popular then but of lesser fame today. He also opened his pages to anything such important authors as Ray Bradbury, Nelson S. Bond, Eando Binder, and Robert Bloch cared to write,
1940 was the year it all came together for Ray Palmer. From then on Amazing Stories’ readership and circulation would continue to grow, even through and after the war, in a triumphal arc.
The stories reprinted here, we believe are among the most outstanding Palmer published in Amazing during 1940. Guiding our selections are what we feel are three key signifiers of quality: 1) reader reaction as reflected in the magazine’s letter columns, 2) a story having been deemed worthy of reprint by the field’s most able anthologists, and 3) our own personal reading of all twelve issues published that year.
The gem of the year, a novelette which still enjoys classic status today, was undoubtedly “The Voyage that Lasted 600 Years,” the first story ever set on board a ship making a generations-long voyage to a distant star. Once again Amazing was in the lead with a cornerstone sf idea that remains a vital part of the field to this day (beating out Robert A. Heinlein’s “Universe,” which is often misremembered as the first use of a generation starship, by a full year).
Also included are
Truth Is A Plague
David Wright O’Brien
The Living Mist
Ralph Milne Farley
Paul Revere And The Time Machine
A. W. Bernal
Monster Out Of Space
The Day Time Stopped Moving
Ed Earl Repp
(Writing As Bradner Buckner)
The Mathematical Kid
The Strange Voyage Of Dr. Penwing
Richard O. Lewis
The Three Wise Men Of Space
Sons Of The Deluge
Nelson S. Bond
This special 1940 Retro-Hugo edition of The Best of Amazing Stories is not intended to tell World Science Fiction Convention members who or what to vote for (or not to vote for). At the same time it is not possible for most readers to obtain copies of all the science fiction stories and novels published during 1940 or even those classics that might be ranked among the best. Unfortunately, many of the latter are not in print, and those that are are scattered widely among many different anthologies and not easy to assemble. We offer this present book in the hope that it may help contemporary readers become more informed about, at least, some of the better science fiction of the year 1940.
Contains a special Introduction and survey of the best stories published in every magazine during the year.