The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Ray Palmer, Robert Bloch, and Tarleton Fiske

June 25th, 2012 · No Comments

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Ray Palmer is one of my favorite editors.  He took over the early science fiction pulp, Amazing Stories, in the ’30s; and turned it into an extremely unusual magazine in the ’40s, when he published the hallucinatory output of Richard Shaver.  (We’ve featured Shaver ourselves here many times, as a search will reveal.)  Readers balked at the “Shaver Mystery”; so Palmer left to pursue other projects, including Fate, Mystic, Search, Flying Saucers, and other magazines devoted to the paranormal and anomalistic.

Amazing Stories had a sister magazine, Fantastic Adventures.  It was devoted to “fantasy,” which Palmer defined rather broadly.  The issue depicted above, for example (August 1943), carried stories on: a Greek woman who invokes Apollo and Pegasus to fight the Nazis; a man whose life is taken over by three doppelgangers from the past; a man who inherits his uncle’s pet dinosaur; and a man who travels into the future with a yellow skeleton dispensing “temporary death.”

The prolific Robert Bloch also contributed two stories to the lineup: one about a group of gangsters who discover the Fountain of Youth, and one about a real estate agent battling fairies.  Rather than credit one of them to a house name, like Alexander Blade or Frank Patton, Bloch and Palmer opted for something less generic.  So it was that the fairy story was ascribed to Tarleton Fiske.  And Palmer, never one to do things halfway, even printed a photo and bio of Mr. Fiske.  Here, then, is Palmer in his prime, with a page devoted to an imaginary writer.

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Tags: Literature

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