First issue of Amazing Stories, art by Frank
R. Paul. This copy was autographed by Hugo
Gernsback in 1965.
Amazing Stories was an American science
fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by
Hugo Gernsback’s Experimenter Publishing.
It was the first magazine devoted solely to
science fiction. Before Amazing, science fic-
tion stories had made regular appearances in
other magazines, including some published
by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define
and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.
Amazing was published, with some inter-
ruptions, for almost eighty years. The title
first changed hands in 1929, when Gernsback
was forced into bankruptcy and lost control
of the magazine. Amazing became unprofit-
able during the 1930s and in 1938 was pur-
chased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A.
Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine
successful though it was not regarded as a
quality magazine within the science fiction
community. In the late 1940s Amazing began
to print stories about the Shaver Mystery, a
lurid mythos which explained accidents and
disaster as the work of robots named "deros";
the stories were presented as fact, and led to
dramatically increased circulation but also
widespread ridicule. Palmer was replaced by
Howard Browne in 1949, who briefly enter-
tained plans of taking Amazing upmarket.
These plans came to nothing, though Amaz-
ing did switch to a digest format in 1953,
shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine
era. A brief period under the editorship of
Paul W. Fairman was followed, at the end of
1958, by the leadership of Cele Goldsmith.
Despite her lack of experience she was able
to bring new life to the magazine, and her
years are regarded as one of Amazing’s most
creative eras. She was unable to arrest the
magazine was sold to Sol Cohen’s Universal
Publishing Company in 1965.
Under Cohen Amazing was filled almost
entirely with reprinted stories. Cohen did not
pay a reprint fee to the authors of these stor-
ies, and this brought him into conflict