Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1954. Cover by Emsh
Ah, yes, it’s that time again to look back at Galaxy Science Fiction. The rumor that I was traded for a box of unopened board games is untrue. But John has quite the penchant for such things, so I hope no one puts this to the test. I’m quite happy working in the Black Gate office.
The cover, titled “Space-Time in One Tough Lesson,” is by Ed Emshwiller. His birthday was February 16, 1925. And since this is being published less that a week later, it seems fitting to wish him a happy birthday. If he were still alive, he’d be 96 this year.
“How-2” by Clifford D. Simak — Gordon Knight, like so many other people, works a job with very limited hours, allowing him ample leisure time. His hobby is building things, following the directions of various How-2 kits he orders. His latest is for an artificial dog, but he finds a robot kit sent to him by mistake. Rather than sending the kit back immediately, he decides to see if he’s up to the challenge of assembling a robot. But once he assembles Albert, Gordon finds he doesn’t have the heart to send the robot back.
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Last month I posted here about Researching the Habits of Highly Prolific Authors for a book I’m working on. Black Gate reader John Hocking kindly suggested in the comments section that I read Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America’s Golden Age of Print, by Ronald Weber. I took him up on his advice and I’m sure glad I did.
This book looks at the careers of writing and editing from the nation’s earliest days until the end of World War Two. Weber shows us a parade of successful writers and editors — many well-known to this day, many more now forgotten — who found success in the ever-changing market for American popular periodicals.
Until the middle of the 19th century, American writers were hampered by the lack of international copyright laws. Newspaper and magazine editors filched English publications for free and saw no reason to pay homegrown talent. As the population grew and both American and British writers managed to get their governments to set up legal barriers to such theft, the market for American writing blossomed.
These writers certainly didn’t waste their time moaning about their lack of inspiration and hoping the muse would visit them. As prolific and successful Western writer Zane Grey said in a letter to a friend:
This morning I had no desire to write, no call, no inspiration, no confidence, no joy. I had to force myself. But when I mastered the vacillation and dread, and had done a day’s work — what a change of feelings. I had a rush of sweet sensations.
This is a common thread throughout the book. In example after example, we are shown that writer’s block is a myth and that writers should not — indeed, must not — sit around all day twiddling their thumbs. These writers worked hard.
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