john w campbell jr


If in the late 40′s an unlucky SF writer had submitted a story to Astounding about some Cuban communists armed with atomic rockets threatening the US it would had been rejected for sure. 

John W. Cambell Jr.- ‘’Atomic rockets? Cuba? Are you out of your mind?’’

Writer- ‘’It is set in the future, fifteen years…”’

John W. Campbell- ’’Not MY future!’’

Then they would had gone for coffee at the printing plant basement cafeteria.

The Thing (1982)

Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Director: John Carpenter
Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (story)
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David

One awesome fan-made poster, we dig this!

“MORE THAN A BOX”:  Out of the Box–The Short Run of Comet “

As editor of Astounding Science Fiction for some 50 issues, F. Orlin Tremaine was responsible for making Astounding the leading science fiction magazine of its time and surely one of his most important moves was to recommend John W. Campbell, Jr. to succeed him as editor in 1937. Tremaine’s subsequent “comeback” editorship of Comet in 1940-41was unsuccessful, as that magazine folded after only five fairly undistinguished issues.  Undistinguished, but not without interest–as I’ve found looking at those five issues in the Hevelin Collection.

Comet featured an ungainly cover scheme that listed most contents on the left side of the cover.

I’ll devote some attention to all five issues, but this post will focus on Tremaine’s first issue, December 1940, which introduced his greatest–if not particularly successful–feature, The Spacean, which purported to be a newspaper from the future, complete with both imaginary news items and imaginary advertising. This first issue, which also introduced Tremaine’s attempts at breathless dramatic extended metaphors to describe the “trajectory” of the new magazine.

This first issue featured stories by well-known pulp writers, but none are very interesting, and the artwork seems a throwback to much earlier pulps.

The Spacean seems particularly juvenile, possibly signaling the audience Tremaine was targeting.

Tremens’ first editorial attempts to soar–sort of, piling up dramatic metaphors:

Clearly, Tremaine wanted excitement and he took the same approach to a section for readers’ letters:

And his first letter was from the irrepressible Sam Moskowitz, who must have hurt his arm so strenuously patting Tremaine on his back:

Here’s a glimpse of some of the stories in this issue:

Tremens’ editorial content also noted the passing of legendary Amazing editor T. O’Conor Sloane: