Oct 08 2009

“Amateur Science Stories”

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My late father, Douglas W. F. Mayer, was active in science fiction fandom as a teen growing up in Leeds, England. He had a letter published in the July, 1937 issue of Astounding (now Analog), for example. Of more particular note, though, in 1937 and 1938 he published three issues of a ‘zine called Amateur Science Stories. Included in these were three stories by another young fan, one Arthur C. Clarke. Two of these stories (“Travel by Wire!” and “Retreat from Earth”) are collected in The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937-1955 (Sphere Books, 1973).

There’s an odd discrepancy in that book. While the Acknowlegements page correctly credits Amateur Science Stories with the first publication of these stories, Clarke’s own introduction and the credit line accompanying the stories calls it Amateur Science Fiction Stories. I don’t know if this was Clarke’s error or that of an overenthusiastic editor. Since I own original copies of the ‘zine, I can testify that the former is correct. I’ll post a picture of an issue when I get the time to dig one out of the fireproof box and photograph it.

The magazine published stories by other authors of course. Among these was WIlliam F. Temple who also went on to publish many short stories and a half-dozen novels.

I’ve seen references to the magazine elsewhere on the web, with some confusion about details (thanks in part to the book mentioned above). Since I have access to the primary sources I thought I’d set the record straight. I’ll be updating this page with more complete details in the near future.

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