header by Jim Garrison

Gonna start off with some fannish history. Patricia Rogers has been having letter after letter published explaining her daunting and daring exploration of the humongous pulp and fanzine collection of Jack Speer.

Adventures in Speerology #2

Friday 18 July 2008

Wow - Y'all are going to get tired of me using the word "Amazing" while I sift through Jack Speer's life in collecting, but if you were with me you too would find that "Amazing" really is the word that keeps coming to mind. I am glad I have y'all to share these stories with because I am busting to talk about it when I get home and I don't want to forget even the smallest detail.

I didn't get over to the Speer home today until close to 5pm. It is monsoon season here and around 4pm the skies opened up with a heavy deluge of rain and hail, all accompanied by a spectacular show of lightning. The storm had just let up when I arrived at Jack and Ruth's but the street in front of their house was still channeling a deep stream of rushing water. Ruth met me at the door and commented how their front porch rarely got wet yet here it is covered with several large pools.

The storm had cooled the afternoon so we headed right out to the garage to check out Roy Tackett's papers. But… On the way to the back of the garage we were grabbed by a large tentacled arm and pulled over to a shelf of Pulps. Now I know a lot of you have collected early SF pulps for many a year. I have long read the authors in them but not collected the pulps themselves. Not even handled many of them as most of the Pulp Cons are in areas of the country that I have never lived near and rarely visited. So here Ruth and I are standing in a dusty corner of a dimly lit garage and one by one Ruth would take an envelope off the shelf, open it, pull out a rare gem cut like a magazine, read the title and date for me, then gently handed me the pulp to look at. Here are a few of the titles she recited to me…

Amazing Stories - August 1928
Wonder Stories Quarterly - Winter 1932
Science Wonder Quarterly - Fall 1929
Amazing Stories - October 1927
Wonder Stories - March 1933
Science Fiction Plus - run of all of 1953
Wonder Stories Quarterly - Fall 1931
Amazing Stories - October 1930
Vargo Statten - January 1954
Amazing Stories - April 1926 and September 1926
Amazing Stories - May 1932
Terry and the Pirates comics 1950's
Science Fiction - October 1939
Fantastic Novels - March 1948
Fantastic Adventures - September 1952
Also, in an old cigar box there were lots of Buck Rogers comic strips clipped from their original newspapers

Sure - I have seen pulp art in collections of SF art and on-line and I love the images but there is something magically different about seeing them on the original magazines. Maybe it is the old printing techniques, maybe the size of the image, maybe just the wonderful quality of the art itself but I was completely mesmerized. I could have looked at them for hours and wanted to study each painting to see every nuance like on the cover of Science Fiction Quarterly - Fall 1929… Wow - These guys in the plump space suits are tethered to an incredibly cool rocket but the rocket is obviously moving because it has a full thrust flame…. etc…etc. So now I get IT - why y'all collect these fragile old magazines. As of this afternoon in Jack Speer`s garage, I truly understand.

The issues I mention here are all in surprisingly good shape, some even in excellent tight clean condition. Others on the shelf had lost covers or been though a flood. But - and you need to remember this - Jack never threw anything away. Ruth said she would occasionally try to throw something away like an old broken lawnmower but Jack would get home just in time to stop this silliness and would lug the lawnmower up to the attic and out of harm's way. I was up in the attic this evening and just the thought of getting a lawnmower up there fills me with respect for Jack's determination.

While we were enjoying the pulps Ruth shared more gold nugget stories about Jack. When looking at one sadly water damaged magazine she said, "This must have been in one of the Oklahoma floods." I said, "There were more floods?" Ruth: "Yes, when Jack was growing up his father did not approve of him reading SF so Jack hid his pulps in the barn and there were occasional floods. The funny thing is that it was Jack`s father who introduced Jack to Science Fiction. He felt to be well-rounded you needed to read and learn something about everything. The trouble was that Jack was really struck from the start by Science Fiction and his father only wanted him to sample it for educational purposes." Jack father was a lifetime military man and Ruth said Jack respected and adored him. His father's love of knowledge and learning was forever a part of Jack's life too. Ruth said Jack loved being a boy scout while growing up and loved learning about nature. He also loved digging in the creek - something his father also preferred Jack not do but that did not deter the young Jack from his creek explorations.

Jack's love of learning kept him going to every science talk he could get too his whole life, right up to the end. He always wanted to learn something new and even when they traveled Jack never wanted to take the same path twice. He wanted to find new ways to get there so he might have a new learning experience along the way.

One more note on floods. When the great basement floods happened (mentioned in the first chapter) Ruth said "You should have seen the backyard." Jack filled every inch of their back yard with wet fanzines and pulps to try and sun dry them. He would even walk up and down turning the pages of individual magazines to try and help them dry out. Poor guy - I know how I would feel if my prized books were in a flood. Looking through some of the water-damaged fanzines today I noted that mimeograph ink just turns into illegible lines with dark blue halos when drenched.

Remember Roy Tackett's stuff? We had started out to look at that - well, not quite there yet, next a detour up to the attic. While looking at the pulps I noticed a skinny metal ladder extending up into a dark opening in the ceiling. Who can pass up the allure of that! I asked Ruth if I could climb up and she smiled and said, "Sure - Just be careful." So up I went. First I plugged in an elaborate set of power cords to hopefully bring a little light to the darkness above. Hey, I've read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft - I know what waits in dark attics.

From what Ruth had said about all the stuff Jack had been depositing up there I expected a large finished attic with a floor. Wrong. There are open beams to be tightrope- walked/crawled on with the always-present threat of falling one way or another through the ceiling into the garage below. A few loose boards and old table tops have been placed between some of the beams to help as wobbly stepping stones. Now you think all this would slow me down. Wrong again. My degree is in Anthropology and I did lots of Archeology field work in college. There is nothing I love more than exploring dangerous difficult places while looking for hidden treasure. And from the looks of it this attic fits all those criteria. Even with the couple of power cords only one flashlight-sized bulb worked and I tugged at the cord to try and get the light to reveal the far corners of the attic. There were boxes here and there, hubcaps, an old leather 1940's briefcase and then a later 1970's hard-sided one close by. Way in the back were large bicycle wire rims more like something from a bike in the 1920's. About 8 feet away from me was a small bookcase with what looked like Fantasy Press size books on it but I just could not see well enough to tell. OK - I have to climb over there… slowly. Sigh. They were just 1970's SF paperbacks which had vinyl covers to disguise their true appearance. At the other end of the attic was a box that looked to be full of art but I just could not see what was in it from my distance. I tried to figure out a way to get over there but decided it was going to have to wait for another day with better clothing and more preparation. I did not even open any of the boxes so there are still lots of mysteries to be explored up there.

OK, Really - now to look at Roy's stuff. There are 4 or 5 stacks of file cabinet boxes and each stack is over 6 feet high, all full of fanzines. We just glanced at them but everything seemed to be in good shape and well organized. I will move those out of the garage soon and look though them more thoroughly.

Ruth and I headed into the kitchen and noted the time to be almost 7pm and Ruth said she was going to make us some dinner. She suggest since it was nice and cool that I check out the outbuilding in the backyard again and maybe I could find some of the papers she is looking for. Ruth and her children have been working very hard the last few weeks to find all the legal papers they need for the estate but as she has smiled and said to me on several occasions, "All we keep finding is Science Fiction papers."

In a serious talk I asked Ruth if she or her children or grandchildren wanted to keep any of the fanzines or fandom papers? Ruth smiled and said no, that her children have come to the point that they have enough stuff in their lives and didn't need to collect anymore. Hummm… Have enough stuff??? "Don't need to collect any more???" I wonder if I will ever grasp this concept. No. Probably not.

In the early evening light I headed out to the shed. Inside there are many boxes neatly lined up, with pathways through them. I checked out a number of drawers and found lots of old video tapes, some games and toys, and lots of fanzines - even some in the boxes marked FAPA. Then I started looking though a box that was marked TBF (To Be Filed, I assume). Not very far in I saw a carbon copy of a letter written by Jack on July 28, 1983. It caught my eye right way because in the first line it mentions The Futurians, Harry Warner's books and the Immortal Storm but it was the last paragraph that really blew me away. Of all the thousands of letters everywhere around me that I should find this one…Well, maybe Jack is still directing things.

Toward the end of the letter Jack is talking about the task of dealing with the life, works, and possessions of his parents' estate. Jack wrote: "…discarding much, sorting some into categories particular to one of them, their ancestors… ...and keeping some papers and things for such use as I can make of them… But it is melancholy how much meaning has been lost."

And the last paragraph in this letter Jack wrote:

"Perhaps because I expect to live forever, I haven't felt your quiet panic to rush things onto stencil, but I do feel bad about projects languishing, such as my promised printing of the balance of Swisher's time-travel thesis, and the decimal index of old prozine stories. I think it was May Wollstonecraft Godwin's husband, who died at thirty, who wrote "When I have fears that I shall cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain…" (He didn't reach a very profound conclusion.) I suppose it's better to die before than to keep writing after one has run out of ideas.

"Fen may come and fen may go, but stf goes on forever." Jack

I will leave you with Jack's words.

* * * *

Okay, as the blue ink indicates, this is Lt Luna again.

One of the more interesting myths (that’s the old folks’ term for “urban legend”) that’s cropped up of late, has to do with science fiction magazines back in the pulp era. A lot of people seem to think that science fiction was important to the pulps, and that the science fiction magazines sold like hot cakes.

That was certainly not the case with most of them. Though there were magazines that enjoyed good sales, most of them enjoyed sales that were nothing more than adequate, and often marginal. That’s why so many of them were short lived.

When Hugo Gernsback published Amazing Stories, the very first sf magazine in 1926, he published it not in the regular pulp size of 7 x 10 inches, but in what printers called “bedsheet” size, a shade over 8 ˝ x 11 inches. He put a bedsheet sized price on it, too: Twenty-five cents, in a day when pulps were selling for a dime or fifteen cents.

Gernsback made his living as a publisher of technical magazines dealing with radio and other newfangled electrical gadgets. When he announced that Amazing Stories was selling an impressive 100,000 copies, few other publishers gave any indication that they believed him.

The proof of this is that not very many of them jumped on the bandwagon. No one other than Gernsback wanted to publish sf magazines. Yet Gernsback, a cautious man with a buck, certainly believed there was something to science fiction. In the next four years he published not only Amazing Stories, but Amazing Annual, Amazing Quarterly, Science Wonder Stories, Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Quarterly and Scientific Detective Monthly. That’s right, Gernsback published not just the first but the first seven sf magazines. Only after Gernsback had issued those titles did an independent pulp publisher get into the act, Clayton with Astounding Stories in January, 1930.

Whatever the sales of sf magazines in the twenties, the Depression took the wind out of the field’s sales. In 1929 Gernsback had lost control of the company that published Amazing and Amazing Quarterly, but easily re-established himself with several magazines, including Science Wonder and Air Wonder, which quickly merged into Wonder Stories. Sales and revenues declined and by 1936, Wonder Stories was sold to Standard Magazines and its title changed to Thrilling Wonder Stories.

So what pulps sold?

Well, if you look at the number of western and detective titles, you have one indication. As if the sheer numbers of titles weren’t enough, the prices and schedules give a clue as well. Many western and detective pulps were available to the reader for a lowly dime. No sf titles ever got below 15 cents. Titles like Detective Fiction Weekly, Detective Story, West, Wild West Weekly and Western Story were available on a weekly basis. It was hard enough for a science fiction magazine to put an issue out each month.

But were western and detective pulps the best sellers? No. That honor probably goes to the love pulps and the sports pulps. Magazines like Street & Smith’s Love Story and Munsey’s All-Story Love apparently enjoyed the kind of sales Gernsback and other sf publishers could only dream about. Most sports magazines were seasonable publication – Football Action and Thrilling Football and their comrades sold in the Fall, and Baseball Stories and Exciting Baseball found their readers in the Spring – but there were titles like Street & Smith’s Sport Story Magazine that sold year-round, and sold very well, too.

Nowadays, that’s all changed. There are only a handful of all fiction magazines around and those are all devoted to either sf or detective fiction. On the internet readers have it a little better because here at Planetary Stories, we honor two traditions not upheld anywhere else. In Planetary Stories we offer short, traditional space opera such as used to be found (in those dear, dead pulp days) in Planet Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. And in Pulp Spirit, we carry a wide variety of stories such as you might have found in the non-sf pulps back in the first half of the 20th century. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do.

But let’s get to the letters, starting off with a short one from Ron Butler, who wrote “With Respect To …,” in this issue of Planetary Stories.

Dear Shelby,

Thanks for pointing me to 'Planetary Stories 11.' I'm always happy to see another of Jerry's 'Capt. Shivers' yarns. (Pity she and Rex Gorbachev live in different universes.) And loved the illo. Now I have this great new wallpaper for the downstairs computer.

RNB

Rex Gorbachev is one of the characters in Ron’s Rory Rammer series written for the Atlanta Radio Theatre Co.
Then we heard from Rebecca Brayman

Dear Lt. Luna,

I am always excited when a new issue of PS comes out. I whipped out my copy of PS11, quickly perused the titles and started with Pulp Spirit this time.

At first I thought Bob Bolin's story, "The End of the Trail" was too predictable, but after rereading it I appreciated it even more. It was a very well constructed story, with descriptive prose and good dialog. Maybe it's predictable because that genre is suppose to be or I have read stories like it. Whatever the reason, I have decided that it's not a problem after all, and it was a excellent story.

"My Armadillo is Quick" was a lots of fun as Jerry Page's stories always are. And Paul McCall's illos are always welcome.

"A Long Cold Wait" by Shelby was top notch. I love Mountie stories. Sgt. Preston was a big hero of mine.

I'm still not sure what to think of Wendy Webb's story "Door Closing". Eerie and wonderfully different, but out of place. It is too short even for a short story. It is only a brief encounter, not a story.

And as far as the Diamonville Dolls.... I would enjoy a whole issue of those stories! (I wear my paste ruby under my dress, too.)

Keep up the hard work guys, this is great entertainment.

Best,

Rebecca Brayman

From Ken Kraus:

Comments on latest PULP SPIRIT:

This month, Pulp contains two tales of adventure in the bristling cold that recall some of the man-meets-nature settings of classic Jack London. But what makes them quite readable is that while nature is doing its best to bring the protagonist to heel, the basic story is still about human conflict. And each has a nice twist to keep us going.

“The End of the Trail,” by Bob Bolin, is a neat little western, in the vein of the classic TV adventures. The main man, Dan, begins as an outlaw and yet, is drawn toward helping a suffering man exposed to the harsh elements. So we immediately begin wondering how the elements of lawlessness and the Good Samaritan live side by side in this man.

The rescued man turns out to be the very sheriff who’s hunting him, yet Dan finds he can’t abandon the old codger, even as he feigns an identity that’s as thin and brittle as the hoarfrost all around them. Then a third man enters the scene, challenging both Dan and the sheriff to show what they’re made of. Like I said before, reading this was like watching a good half hour episode of an old favorite western.

In “The Long, Cold Wait” by Shelby Vick, the weather again is the first obstacle that our hero, or heroine in this case, must encounter. Our primal fears of survival are ignited from the get-go as the lone 18 year old Sally is barricaded into her cabin by a monster blizzard, with only a lame but loyal dog for company. Her world is impacted by three men: he Mountie father, who is out on a mission; a possible love interest named Jack who seems to have his eye on another gal, and an unknown intruder who literally barges into her solitude.

What makes this story an exciting read is that before help can arrive in the form of her father and Jack, Sally must endure an initial encounter by herself with the intruder outlaw. Of course she can’t physically overpower him, but she’s got her wits and she’ll use them to her advantage. Who would have thought that a woman’s ability to make a great stew and then follow up with a great song on a concertina may prove the best weapons against a desperate felon?

And since at the end, we’re left just a bit hanging as to the romantic fate of Sally and Jack, this could be grounds for a sequel adventure.

KEN KRAUS

And if it takes as much work getting that sequel out of Shelby as we had getting the first story, we might end up dead.

Let’s see what Donald Sullivan thought of last issue.

Dear Lt. Luna,

"Over There" was a very interesting and enjoyable read. Much of it dealt with writers of war stories being realistic and getting their facts straight. It was pointed out that many of the stories were aimed at young boys, in which case accuracy wouldn't matter that much. Only historians, combat veterans, and well-read audiences would notice the inaccuracies.

Getting the facts straight holds true for almost all genres of fiction. For example, a writer wouldn't want to say that a bandit robbed a stagecoach passenger of his Rolex, or describe a battle between a caveman and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Even younger readers might notice the errors in those cases.

Some inaccuracies are accepted. For example, science fiction writers are supposed to stick to "real" science, yet nobody bats an eye when stories involve time travel or faster-than-light speeds. Fantasy writers can generally have things their way, but once they establish what a hero or villain can or can't do, they'd better stick with it.

We, as readers, are expected to suspend disbelief when we read any kind of fiction. But when a writer ignores the historical or physical facts, or just doesn't take the time to do proper research, he/she stretches our suspended disbelief to the limit…and beyond.

Some readers are better than others in suspending disbelief. I'm good at it. I get lost very easily in a story or a movie. Some will notice things that I miss, like a Roman soldier wearing a wrist watch. I'm just enjoying the movie too much to notice such things. It has to be a glaring inaccuracy for me to catch it.

For all that, I do notice errors more readily in stories about military life. I retired from the U.S. Army, though the extent of my combat experience was limited to two tours in Vietnam. There, I was in combat zones or contested areas, but never actually engaged the VC in combat. In twenty years of training, combat maneuvers and exercises however, you learn a lot.

When I entered the army, there were still some WWII vets serving. Most were draftees who stayed in, who experienced combat in Europe, North Africa, or the Pacific. Listening to their combat stories was like listening to the three blind men feeling and describing the elephant. Even guys in the same theater had different stories.

So it's hard to read or hear an account of a war story and say "that ain't the way it was," because there were many true accounts that differed from each other. But of course, there are the blatant discrepancies as "Over There" points out, such as use of weapons that weren't invented yet, or spying before it came into vogue.

As an aside: In my first Vietnam tour, I was medically evacuated--after undergoing surgery for a perforated ulcer. I was flown to Walter Reed with a plane load of wounded troops. I feared I would be the butt of many jokes, but I was accepted as one of them.

"Over There" was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

And now, a few of my favorite stories:

Planetary Stories

“Lovers Under the Green Sky”….Ken Kraus…A great story that pulls the reader in at the start and holds him/her until the end. Moves at just the right pace with enough twists to keep the reader guessing. Characterization was great, and the dialog was done well. The description, sensory input and imagery were professional with a satisfactory resolution. The story had a great pulp feel.

“The McGuirk Destroyer”…Gerald W Page…Somewhere, A. E. van Vogt must be having a good chuckle. "The Black Destroyer" set the tone for much of science fiction for the next fifty years or so, and spawned the movie, "Alien." Now the big question: Will "The McGuirk Destroyer" set the tone for another fifty years? Will it spawn another blockbuster movie? I really enjoyed this one. I knew it would be good from the opening sentence, "On and on Couerl…er…Urgus prowled."

Pulp Spirit

“End of the Trail”…Bob Bolin…Lately, we've been treated to some great pulp style westerns. I thoroughly enjoyed "End of the Trail," and hope we can see more like it in the future.

My Armadillo is Quick…Gerald W Page…Shades of Mickey Spillane. Another great episode of the greatest crime fighter of all time. The Armadillo is an all star combo of the all-time greatest crime fighters, including Mike Hammer, Batman, Wonder Woman, and The Marx Brothers. My favorite line was "Mais qui, monsieur! Youse won't be disappointed." Laughed out loud at that one.

A Long, Cold Wait…Shelby Vick

…I haven't read a story of the Mounties in a long time. And this one is a great one. A heckuva lot of adventure, action, and suspense was packed into this short story. The illos for both PS & PS were first rate.

A devoted Lunatic, Sully

Donald Sullivan is well known to readers of Planetary Stories for yarns like “Wolfeye.” Hey, Sully – that was back in issue 11 – isn’t it time we saw something else?

But if you’re in a hurry to read some of Sully’s fiction, try THE PSIONIC MAN, a science fiction novella by Donald H Sullivan. http://stores.lulu.com/dhsully

And you can find Sullivan's Short Stories at: http://www.webspawner.com/users/dsullivan. Next we hear from John Thiel.

Lt. Luna (and Shelby Vick also):

I was sorry to hear that Jack Speer had passed away; it would have made your newest issue brighter if he had lasted just long enough to read the tribute to him that appeared in it. It was still a very nice tribute. I had thought Speer had already passed away, and it would have been nice to find out he was still alive, if he were, which I would have found out if he had survived past the time that tribute was published. I like him for his longevity anyway--he was there with First Fandom, I believe, and almost contemporaneous with Jack Williamson. Isn't he the one who, while travelling by auto, sent Claude Degler simultaneous postcards from various towns and cities reading "I have a cosmic mind, what do I do now?"

Your latest issue is an overall good scan and it does more than could be asked for to keep the pulp tradition alive. So far there has not been a renaissance of the pulp tradition, but your publication makes one mindful of it, and gives the reader intimations that there might be one eventually. Well, perhaps there already is; Planetary Stories and the other magazines listed in your links might well be the early part of a renaissance. Let's hope that there is! If for no other reason than that one can look at the glorious sights that a renaissance brings with it.

Best,

John Thiel

thiel@dcwi.com

We discussed the use of Native Americans in World Wars I and II last issue, and the following series of notes appeared in the PulpMags email list. It starts off with a comment from Will Murray.

I think it was on this list that the subject of the Navajo code talkers of WW II came up in connection with Doc Savage speaking Mayan to his aides as a form of secret communication.

I mentioned that I thought that this was done in WWI too.

Just happened to be reading Walter Gibson's Fine Art of Spying and he confirms this. During WWI, Choctaw speakers were briefly employed. It did not go well, according to Gibson. Their language lacked the technical terms needs to communicate in war time.

As to the tech talk so did the Navajo. They used terms like "moving turtle" for a tank. They adapted their word usage for the situation encountered. But i can see doc spotting for long tom and using Maya over the radio to call in the shots

--Will Murray

Another old friend, Robert Kennedy had this to say:

Sounds like the WW1 folks expected a turn-key, instant on solution. That just would not fly.

As for the other: Long Tom: Where away? Doc: Drop the length of two feathered serpents. Right five spear casts.

Robert Kennedy

In a more serious vein (we think), Robert sends us this:

Dear Lt. Luna,

While having lunch at some dive called Yahoo's I bumped into a character named Jerry. In the course of our conversation he told me that your readers might be able to help with a puzzling old question I have.

Back when I was still a shrimp (I think they call it 'middle school' these days.) I read every bit of science fiction I could find in the local libraries. I still remember many of those tales, but there is one I've never been able to locate again.

There's this fellow, a Novice in an Order that acts as translators of the spaceways, who gets paired up with the interstellar version of a Yankee Trader. And they head for this planet to sell something like Vegan Three-Fire Gems.

The planet is what I really remember. The whole planet had no metals. And wanted none imported. After they've had everything but a Body Cavity Search for metals they catch a cab for the all wood and stone city. Is the cab Thoat powered? Not on your Scarlet Sward(tm), partner! The cabbie blows hard on his slow-match, then uses it to light the "pottery turbine." And off they go. The Trader & the Novice have an adventure or two. At one point they discover a local scientist searching their room for some bit of Iron. Local censorship being what it is, he really would not know what to do if he found some.

The story ends with a twist I'm not so sure I remember correctly.

Lovely Lt. Luna, if your readers can tell me anything about this story, I'd really appreciate it.

Looking forward to your next issue, anyway. I hear my cousin Erwin K. Roberts has a story in it.

Best,

Bob Kennedy

_________________________________

Plutonium Nightmare a novel of The VOICE By Erwin K. Roberts in PDF or Print-On-Demand formats.

Free on-line preview of Intro & Chapters 1 & 2 Now on sale at http://www.lulu.com/Modern-Knights

And a fine story your cousin wrote for us, too. It’s in Pulp Spirit and the title is “A History of Mystery (Men).” What do you suppose that’s about?
Meantime, if you could talk your cousin into sending us more, the captain sure would be grateful.
Speaking of contributors, here’s a letter from Rob Shelsky.

Hi!

I just checked out Angels Dancing. I LOVED the illustrations. Who is exactly is Paulette Perlman? She has real talent. The blimpies were great, as were the tenaculars, complete with drippings! I'm laughing as I write this. The whole way it is done gave it even more of a pulp feel, because I was afraid the story was only borderline pulp. The illustrations made it for me! Reminds me exactly of all the magazines I read as a kid! My hat is off to you and Ms. Perlman.

Thanks so much! You made my day! I needed that!

Rob Shelsky

The publication of a new issue of Planetary Stories is always a big event, but it hasn’t been the only big recent event, as the next few letters note. The first is from world famous science fiction novelist Brad Strickland.

Dear ShelVy,

O what is so rare as the first of September,
A fine day indeed for us all to remember
The four score and naught anniversary date
Of SF's best friend, ShelVy--a date that is great!
May the day bring you joy, may fans too rejoice
That living among us is a warm, witty voice!
And when you have exhausted your birthday glories,
Bring us many more years of Planetary Stories!

(Okay, so on that last line the meter is rough,
But I hope you celebrate 'til you say "enough!")

--Brad Strickland

To which ShelVy replied:

Well, whatever I say won't be enough
'Flabbergasted' would be a bit rough.
But regardless of how I state it,
There's no way I could overrate it!
Thanxalot!

ShelVy

And we also heard from Ernie Saylor, one of the distinguished editors at Aberrant Dreams:

Well Happy Birthday Mr. Vick,

Eighty Years huh?

Wow I am not sure I can recall too many 80 year old icons! Let me see here. . . Tarzan, Skylark of Space, The Shunned House (recluse press edition) and . . ..

Oh yes . ..

“The House at Pooh Corner.”

Am I correct in that all of these and a five fingered beast are all 80 too! What good company you are in!

Seriously Though . .. . Happy Birthday Sir!!!!

Ernie Saylor

From well-known science fiction fan Mike Weber:

...and on we go on our long, strange trip.

I'm twenty years behind you, and it would be nice if i never caught up.

mike weber (fairportfan@gmail.com)

And we heard from Bob Bolin, too:

Dear Sir:

Happy 80th birthday. Your efforts to bring back the golden years of SF are appreciated by both the readers of science fiction and authors who like to write it.

Keep up the good work.

Bob Bolin

And Bill Ritch, president of Atlanta Radio Theatre Company said:

Dear Mr. Vick

I want to wish you a happy birthday (belated) from myself and every one else in the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. I don't think I have met you but I know Jerry Page quite well for the past almost 30 and he tells me that you have turned 80 years old! I have also enjoyed the rip-roaring adventure of _Planetary Stories_. It is like fresh new copies of my old pulp magazines. Keep up the good work for another eighty years!

I would have sent this yesterday but I was still in the internet-free zone of Dragon*Con and could not send email.

Contrats again,

Bill Ritch

president of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company.

And this from that distinguished Shakespearian actor and author (“Ravin’” in Wonderlust # 5), Doug Kaye (who, by the way, was one of the founders of Atlanta Radio Theatre Company),

Hello, Shelby!

A little bird (rather strange-looking, with white tufts at its chin) has been spreading the word that you have reached the splendid age of 80 today.

Now, Eighty in itself brings little connotation except for going around the world in so many days, but if you consider that it's your Eighth Decade... well, now we have something going.

Kong, of course, was the Eighth Wonder of the World, according to Carl Denham. And there are always those Eight Maids A-Milking, celebrated so much in song at the holidays -- that might even lend a salacious tone, if you imagine them without any cows, but on certain porno websites. Flip an 8 on its side and you have an Infinite Number of other things it could represent. 8 Ounces to a Pint, which we should all be raising to you today; 8 Arms to an Octopus, who should give you a nice Birthday Hug; 8 Legs to a Spider, who can nip you and give you Super Powers as a gift. Now, this is no Two-Bit greeting, for since two bits is a Quarter, then it takes a full four to give you the full Buck -- or, if you'd rather divvy up something more pricey than a Morgan Silver Dollar, then you may enjoy a virtual Treasure Chest, full of doubloons: Pieces of Eight!

What's that? 80 is the end of the Eighth Decade, and we’ve missed the whole thing?

Happy Birthday, Shelby.

Doug Kaye (Who forgot it was the 21st Century)

That’s a pretty good cargo of letters, if I do say so myself. Next time we’re hoping for an even better cargo, and it would sure help to have a letter from you.

--Lt. Luna



The Astrogation Deck

If you're one of the fans who hates that three month interval between issues, rejoice! Our next issue will be out around Halloween. It will be a special combined issue of Planetary Stories and Pulp Spirit called The Planetary Stories 2008 Holiday Special. If that suggests to you that it will be jam packed with goodies for the holidays, you're right on target. Included is a Halloween story by Shelby Vick, and Christmas stories including a space adventure about Rory Rammer by Ron Butler, as well as a Diamondville Dolls adventure called, "Santa's Little Helpers." And there will be a PulpRack featuring Christmas stories from the pulps. If we can find them, we'll include stories for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah as well.

Then at our scheduled time three months from now (Jan. 1, 2009), the regular issues of Planetary Stories and Pulp Spirit will appear. In Planetary you'll find a new McGuirk story, "Nadir of the Warrior Queen." The crew is spending a restful few weeks on a primitive planet when they receive a surprise visit from their old enemies, the Bronto Sisters, Charlotte and Emily. There will also be another adventure of Gumshoe 2040 by our newcomer, Richard Logan.

And Pulp Spirit introduces a great new series by Scott Cranford, featuring two detectives named Graveyard Toombs and Tom Sandy. If you like the fiction of Lester Dent (creator and chief writer of Doc Savage), you'll love this one. We definitely will have an Armadillo story called "The Armadillo Always Falls Twice," and depending on how much space we have, another Diamondville Dolls story, and possibly a new western.




HELP SAVE THE WORLD!


In this photo taken by David Benedict, we see Space Admiral Alura Beauteia disguised as a typically sweet and innocent Earthgirl, Megan Luckett, during a visit to the minor planet Earth to determine the quickest way to wipe it off the face of the universe.

While here, Admiral Alura read her first issue of Planetary Stories and immediately proclaimed, "We cannot destroy any world capable of such literature! So long as they continue publishing Planetary Stories, I shall personally see that this disgusting little planet is not destroyed!"

Do your part to save the planet and read every issue of Planetary Stories. And hope for many, many more!

Illustration by Paulette Perlman from Ron Shelsky's "Angels Dancing"