Robert Heinlein in the Pulps

RAHeinlein1940sRobert A. Heinlein, early 1940s, image found online.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein has been a favorite of mine since I began finding his books in our grade school library in the mid 1960s. I also read him in the science fiction digest magazines on the newsstands at the time, like “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,” and others. Book publications of his work listed original copyrights from pulp magazines like “Astounding Science Fiction” beginning in 1939, and when I started going to art school in New York City in 1969, I was able to find some of those first publications still on the shelves of used book stores. Also in 1969 I bought “Heinlein in Dimension” by Alexei Panshin, a commentary on the man’s work which gave chronological lists of the stories and where they were published, which helped me find them. There were also pulp magazines for sale at the science fiction and comics conventions I attended beginning in the mid 1970s, including Midamericon in 1976, where I got to see Heinlein speak and acquired a book signed by him.  I continued to occasionally add to my Heinlein pulp collection into the 1990s, after which the issues I wanted were either impossible to find or too pricey. I’ve decided to put this collection of 13 Heinlein pulps on eBay beginning next Sunday, April 24th, and thought I’d show them here, after having one last look through the issues.ASF_8-39Heinlein’s first sale was to editor John W. Campbell Jr. at “Astounding Science Fiction.” Famously, he submitted it to a new writers contest there, and Campbell liked it so much, he bought it at the regular, higher word rate. (Pulp magazines paid by the word, which helps explain the overblown language of some pulp stories.) “Astounding,” published by Street and Smith, was considered one of the best and most prestigious science fiction pulps, and Campbell one of the best SF editors. He and Heinlein began a long and sometimes contentious relationship with this story, followed by many others. The cover art is by famed pulp illustrator Virgil Finlay, though not one of his better efforts.

ASF_8-39_LifelineHere’s the title page of that story with a full-page illustration by an artist named Isip. Pulp magazines were printed on the cheapest pulp paper, which is now gradually turning tan and brittle, though all the ones I have are still readable. They were thick and full of reading material, often over 150 pages with type small enough to include entire novels.

ASF_11-39Heinlein’s second published story was in the November 1939 issue of Astounding, cover art by Hubert Rogers. The featured story was by E.E. “Doc” Smith, one of his Lensman series of novels. Smith was one of the most popular writers of the previous generation who began writing for the earliest science fiction pulps in the late 1920s.

ASF_11-39_MisfitHeinlein’s story was “Misfit,” with a half-page illustration by “Wasso.”

ASF_1-40Heinlein’s third published story appeared in the January, 1940 issue of “Astounding,” with a cover by Schneeman.

ASF_1-40_RequiemHis story, “Requiem,” is one of his best early ones in my opinion, and the kind of Heinlein story that inspired some of the men who went on to become involved in the U.S. space program. The protagonist, D.D. Harriman, has worked all his life to get man onto the surface of our moon, and is finally able to land there himself at the end of it.

ASF_3-40The February and March, 1940 issues of “Astounding” ran the novel-length Heinlein story, “If This Goes On–“, but I was only able to find the March issue, with a cover by Gilmore.

ASF_3-40_IfThisGoesOnHere’s the title page with an illustration by Hubert Rogers, who was the author’s favorite illustrator of his stories. This illustration is seen in the uncropped version of the author photo at the top of this article, which you can find online.

ASF_5-41The next Heinlein issue I found is a gem, with two Heinlein stories inside, the longer one, “Universe,” featured on the cover by Hubert Rogers. It’s also the one I have that’s in the best shape, what I would call Very Fine.

ASF_5-41_UniverseTitle page of “Universe” with illustration by Rogers. It’s a novelette or short novel, and a fine one.

ASF_5-41_SolutionUnsatisfactory“Solution Unsatisfactory” is by “Anson MacDonald,” Heinlein’s most common pen name. It was used, as in this case, to hide that fact that two stories by the same author were in the issue, and at other times when Heinlein wasn’t so thrilled with the editing of his work.

ASF_8-41The August 1941 issue of “Astounding” has the second half of his novel, “Methuselah’s Children,” under a cover by Hubert Rogers.

ASF_8-41_MethuselahsChildrenThe title page illustrated by Rogers. Many of these stories in “Astounding” were connected, part of the author’s “Future History” timeline. This story introduces the character Lazarus Long, one of Heinlein’s most popular and most recurring ones, leader of a band of humans with genetically engineered very long life spans.

ASF_3-42The final “Astounding” pulp issue I have with Heinlein in it is from March 1942. Most pulps were about 7 by 9 inches, but at this time the Street and Smith ones were experimenting with larger 8.5 by 11 inch issues. Cover by Hubert Rogers.

ASF_3-42_GoldfishBowlHeinlein’s story is “Goldfish Bowl” with an illustration by Kramer, again using the Anson MacDonald pen name.

UnknownW_9-40While most of Heinlein’s work was science fiction, he did write a few fantasy stories. The longest of these was published in another Street and Smith pulp, “Unknown,” Sept. 1940.

Unknown_DevilAs seen here, with excellent illustrations by Edd Cartier, the original title was “The Devil Makes the Law,” but it was later known as “Magic, Incorporated.” While full of magic, Heinlein manages to organize that magic in a very scientific way.

UnknownW_10-42Another shorter fantasy appeared in the companion magazine “Unknown Worlds” of Oct. 1942.

UnkWorlds_UnpleasantThe story has a rarely used Heinlein pen name, “John Riverside.”

StartStorMy copy of “Startling Stories” from May 1947 has a cover badly marred by part of another pulp cover firmly stuck to it. Cover by Earle Bergey.

StartSt_ColumbusWasADopeThe story inside has an illustration that’s not credited, and I can’t read the signature.

ThrillWond“Thrilling Wonder Stories” of Oct. 1947 is in better shape, with another cover by Earle Bergey. Both this and “Startling Stories” were part of publisher Ned Pines’ output. He also published lots of comic books.

ThrillWond_JerryIsAManThe story “Jerry Is A Man” has a beautiful one and a half page illustration by Virgil Finlay. The story, about what makes someone human, is great, too.

WeirdTales“Weird Tales,” the original weird and horror fiction pulp, is not a place you’d expect to find a story by Heinlein, but there was one in the January 1949 issue, under a cover probably by Lee Brown Coye.

WeirdT_OurFairCity“Our Fair City” is another of Heinlein’s rare fantasies, nicely illustrated by Boris Dolgov.

TwoCompleteThe last and latest pulp I have, chronologically, is “Two Complete Science-Adventure Books” from Winter, 1952, when the pulps were dying out in favor of the smaller digest-sized magazines. The rather nice cover is signed “Anderson,” but is not by Murphy Anderson.

TwoComp_BeyondThisHorizonThe interior double-page illustration for another “Anson MacDonald” novel is not credited. This is actually the third publication of the novel, first serialized in “Astounding” in 1942, then published in book form by Fantasy Press.

I’ve enjoyed having these magazines, but now it’s time to pass them on to others. Have a look for them on eBay the week starting April 24th if you’re interested.


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