August, 1933 – A major new author

SFD-Aug33-coverIn the August issue, Ray Palmer announced a major development in the Cosmos author line up.

From “Spilling The Atoms with RAP” (pg 11, 13):
“COSMOS, which began last month with Ralph Milne Farley’s sensational first chapter, now includes John W. Campbell, Jr., in its imposing list of contributors. Thus, COSMOS will be written by seventeen authors, and not sixteen, as formerly announced.

Of considerable interest is the origination and evolution of COSMOS. Some months before Liberty came out with its six author story, written for the movies, I conceived the idea of writing a science fiction novel with ten contributors. Accordingly the plot of COSMOS was evolved and a tentative ‘feeler’ sent to some of the more prominent stf authors. The instantaneous and enthusiastic response was so encouraging that plans were made to go ahead. Thus, the plot was sent to each author then interested and suggestions were made by each. The final result was a 13 part story. Thirteen authors were secured, with Ralph Milne Farley leading off. He was to write the ‘Venus’ part, using his popular Radio Planet characters. Suddenly he had a new idea, a hurried change was made and we found ourselves with a sixteen part story. ‘Venus’ was assigned to Otis Adelbert Kline when Farley wrote “Faster Than Light.” Then, Amazing Stories editors, who have been taking an interest in the story, suggested that a part be inserted after part four, where they felt that an additional part was necessary to effect a more efficient cohesion. We were then able to inclSFD-Aug33-inside-coverude John W. Campbell, Jr.

An amazing situation developed here and it was discovered that many other prominent science fiction authors were also interested in contributing a part. Instead of having difficulty in securing enough contributors, we were experiencing the phenomenon of being literally mobbed by writers. And when I say writers, I mean the biggest of ‘big shots’ in the science fiction field. The reason for this situation arose through the system of ‘feelers’ sent to many authors. And so, we were faced with the possibility of ‘insulting’ several authors, which we did not desire to do. However, using the ‘first come, first served’ maxim, we got by this trouble without causing any bad feelings.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was unable to contribute because of other contracts. He has a novel to write for Argosy, and another serial for Blue Book.”

This was a coup for SFD.  Campbell was already a well-known author with several stories published in Amazing Stories.  He would go on to become a major force in publishing as the editor of Astounding Stories from 1937 until his death in 1971.

The rest of the issue is oddly devoid of Cosmos references.  A few brief mentions appear in “The Editor Broadcasts”:

Has everybody seen Rap’s announcement that John W. Campbell, Jr., will also write a chapter for Cosmos?..

Allis Villette, of Alberta, Canada, writes:

“‘Alicia in Blunderland’ is just too good for description… COSMOS, I know, will be indescribable, but, lest we forget Alicia in the flood of letters that will doubtless follow the printing of the first part of the sixteen authors classic, I want to give her a rave right now…”

“Alicia in Blunderland” was a long-running satirical story that appeared in SFD and FM beginning in June, 1933.  It spoofed science fiction stories, authors and editors with equal glee.  It was written under the pen name “Nihil” by P. Schuyler Miller.  The chapters were collected and published in book form in 1983 by Oswald Train, which volume can still be obtained.

Read Chapter Two of Cosmos.
Read about the September, 1933 issue.


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