Sunday, February 13, 2011

Science fiction, atomic power and other things

Astounding January 1954
Self Portrait

Not really, but close enough. We dreamed of rockets and space travel and great things. I wrote a high school science paper on satellites and received an F. Unrealistic the teacher said.

The Soviets weren't listening.

Astounding was the second scifi magazine. Volume 1 No. 1 came out January 1930 and unlike Amazing it was more action and less science. John W. Campbell, Jr came along in late '37 and established a reign and readership based on science rather than fantasy. If Gernsback was the Dean of Science Fiction, Campbell was the Godfather.
One of the most famous stories that Campbell published was a novelette in March of 1944, "Deadline," By Cleve Cartmill. The story described the search for atomic power and weapons and mentioned U-235 by name. That brought an FBI visit.

And since the NY Times was still an American paper no one complained.

Now they would demand the agents be jailed and FDR arrested.

Astounding was the first scifi magazine to go "digest" size. During the war the paper shortage and a poor binding system made for copies that have not stood the test of time very well.

But ideas transcend paper, ink and glue.

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"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them." - Karl Popper

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