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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Science Fiction in the 1940s

     To the American literary community--to the American arts establishment--the science fiction writers of the forties were invisible. There is no more graceful way to put this. There were, for the first half of the decade, almost no books at all: no anthologies, no reprints, no second-serial rights. Novels and stories were written for genre magazines of limited circulation, were published and went out of print, presumably forever....

     It must be understood that in certain respects science fiction was no different for its writers, offered nothing less, than did the other branches of popular literature. It was pulp and appeared in the torrent of pulp magazines which by the hundreds got on in various degrees of health until wartime paper shortages and, finally, the curse of television put almost all of them in the ground by the beginning of the fifties. Western and romance writers, adventure and sports pulpeteers, also worked for a half cent to two cents a word and knew that when the magazines went off sale their work would never be seen by a nonrelative or nonlover again.

Barry N. Malzberg, reprinted in Breakfast in the Ruins, 2007

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