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The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey
     

The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey

by Fred Nadis
 

See All Formats & Editions

Now in paperback, the rollicking, critically acclaimed true story of the legendary writer and editor who ruled over America's sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural pulp journals in the mid-twentieth century: Ray Palmer.

“Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are

Overview

Now in paperback, the rollicking, critically acclaimed true story of the legendary writer and editor who ruled over America's sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural pulp journals in the mid-twentieth century: Ray Palmer.

“Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are everything Palmer’s practically never were: restrained, nuanced, intelligently considered. Nadis has a great story, and he relates it exquisitely.” —Jerome Clark, Fortean Times 
 
“Fred Nadis’s insightful biography demonstrates that Palmer is significant as well as intriguing.” The Washington Post
 
“One of science fiction’s greatest gadflies gets his due in this lively and entertaining biography.” Publishers Weekly


“Lucidly written and unfailingly lively, The Man from Mars is a biography worthy of its subject.” Fate magazine

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Freelance journalist and author Nadis (American studies, Doshisha Univ., Japan; Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America) draws from his extensive background in American pop culture to compose a smartly researched and stimulating biography of the mysterious and audacious Ray Palmer, founder of the first fanzine, The Comet, in 1930. Later, Palmer was hired as the editor of Amazing Stories and began publishing the very popular space opera stories to attract younger readers. He went on to publish Richard Shaver's controversial Shaver Mystery Stories, in which the author claimed humankind was controlled by ancient inhabitants living in subterranean caves. While Palmer publicly expressed his belief in the stories, it's uncertain whether the statement was part of a ploy to increase circulation, which it did. Nadis relied on Palmer's published articles and editorials, a plethora of primary and secondary sources, and Palmer's FBI file to help sort fact from fiction as a Palmer archive hasn't been built. The author paints a story of a larger-than-life writer, editor, and publisher whose unorthodox methods propelled a nascent genre of tales, conspiracies, and other worlds into high visibility. VERDICT Recommended for sf and fantasy fans, popular culture enthusiasts, and general readers.—Mark Manivong, Lib. of Congress, Washington, DC
Publishers Weekly
One of science fiction’s greatest gadflies gets his due in this lively and entertaining biography. Raymond A. Palmer—who signed himself “Rap”—was one of science fiction’s earliest fans and launched the genre’s first fanzine, The Comet, in 1930. Eight years later, he was offered the plum job of editing Amazing Stories, which had debuted in 1926 as the first science fiction magazine. As Nadis recounts, Rap boosted the magazine’s flagging circulation by publishing space operas that appealed to younger readers. In 1945, he published a story by Richard Shaver, a psychologically troubled writer who believed that humanity was being controlled by an evil ancient subterranean race. For the next four years, “Shaver mysteries” dominated the magazine, and Rap’s insistence that they were true increased sales, but brought howls of outrage from fans who felt he was encouraging crackpots from the lunatic fringe. Eventually, Rap left science fiction to found Fate, Mystic, and a string of “true” paranormal and UFO magazines. Nadis quotes liberally from Rap’s editorials and reader letters to paint a vivid portrait of the postwar science fiction scene and fan culture. Rather than try to solve the mystery of how much Rap truly believed of what he published, Nadis presents his subject as an energetic provocateur who “offered unorthodox ideas to shake things up, overturn preconceptions, and create mystique.” (May)
From the Publisher
“The sci-fi pulps made a lasting imprint, as Fred Nadis shows in his entertaining "The Man From Mars"…Mr. Nadis does not take sides in what was once a civil war among the fans but reminds them that there was more than one mighty editor back in the Golden Age.”
--Tom Shippey, WALL STREET JOURNAL

"One of science fiction's greatest gadflies gets his due in this lively and entertaining biography. Nadis quotes liberally from [Richard A. Palmer's] editorials and readers letters to piant a vivid portrait of the postwar science fiction scene and fan culture."
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“He produces a vivid cultural history, capturing subtle transformations in American attitudes through an examination of the voluble Palmer’s career and writings.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS

“The author paints a story of a larger-than-life writer, editor, and publisher whose unorthodox methods propelled a nascent genre of tales, conspiracies, and other worlds into high visibility.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL

"He [Palmer] was surely one of the most distinctive characters to grace (some would say, disgrace) the science fiction field in the past century. Fred Nadis’ book does him justice, and will provide invaluable insights into the science fiction world of the pulp era"
—Richard A. Lupoff, Locus Magazine

"Lucidly written and unfailingly lively, THE MAN FROM MARS is a biography worthy of its subject. Nadis never stoops to lazy hyperbole…but maintains his balance and his sense of nuance."
Fate Magazine (originally founded by Ray Palmer)
 
"Brisk, entertaining accounts of the beginnings of the science-fiction genre and the zealous fandom it inspired, as well as the complicated relationships between fans and related subcultures devoted to UFOs, the paranormal, and New Age spirituality."
Los Angeles Review of Books

"Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are everything Palmer’s practically never were: restrained, nuanced, intelligently considered. Nadis has a great story, and he relates it exquisitely."
Jerome Clark, Fortean Times
 

"THE MAN FROM MARS provides a fascinating glimpse into a little known regional writer from Wisconsin and his many influences…Ray Palmer was part Isaac Asimov, part P. T. Barnum, and part Charles Fort, a legendary American icon—shining most brightly in kooky waystations of various subcultures."
—Karl Wolff, New York Journal of Books

“Lucidly written and unfailingly lively, The Man From Mars is a biography worthy of its subject. Nadis never stoops to lazy hyperbole…but maintains his balance and his sense of nuance.”
FATE MAGAZINE 

THE MAN FROM MARS is a fascinating story, superbly told.”
—JT Lindroos, Bookgasm
 
“Fred Nadis’s insightful biography demonstrates that Palmer is significant as well as intriguing.”
—Michael Saler, The Washington Post

“Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are everything Palmer’s practically never were: restrained, nuanced, intelligently considered. Nadis has a great story, and he relates it exquisitely."
—Jerome Clark, FORTEAN TIMES

“From pulp fiction and occultism to UFO and conspiracy theories, Sci-fi magus Ray Palmer was ahead of the crowd, fashioning 21st century sensibilities far in advance of the online generation. Fred Nadis’s The Man From Mars is a full bodied, in-depth and addictive investigation into the life of this truly underground man. As fast paced and gripping as any pulp adventure, Nadis brings to life the truly amazing story of this 'impresario of the paranormal'. Grab a copy at the newsstand while they last!”
Gary Lachman, author of A Secret History of Consciousness and Madame Blavatsky
 
“A superb biography of one of the leaders in twentieth-century fringe phenomena. I found it more enthralling than any science fiction I have ever read.”
Richard Smoley, author of Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History
 
The Man from Mars is a deeply researched and wonderfully well-written biography of Ray Palmer, a science-fiction editor who opened the field up to some of the craziest pseudoscientific ideas, from ancient underground robots to UFOs. Nadis recreates the wild-and-wooly world of the pulp magazines with gusto and flair, evoking Palmer as part earnest, hard-working editor, part sensationalizing huckster—and ultimately, as a quintessential American. The book is a joy to read."
Rob Latham, professor of English, University of California at Riverside; editor, Science Fiction Studies
 
“An extremely moving account of one of the genuine fathers of contemporary pop culture, told with just the right balance of humor and seriousness. Nadis brilliantly shows that the impulse to ask “What if?” is one of the most thoroughly American habits there is.” 
Ptolemy Tompkins, author of Paradise Fever and The Modern Book of the Dead

“When I first encountered, up close, the imagination of Ray Palmer, I thought: 'Someone has to write a biography of this man.’ And now someone has. The trick with Palmer has always been this: how to write about biographical facts that merge with pulp fictions that, in turn, merge with biographical facts. Fred Nadis has exactly pulled off this piece of real-world magic. Beautifully."
Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal
 

Kirkus Reviews
The intriguing life story of a pioneer in science-fiction publishing and fandom. Nadis (Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America, 2005) successfully cultivates the gee-whiz aura of prewar American culture, where bright youngsters like Ray Palmer (1910–1977) saw the future within garish "pulp" magazines. The author notes that Palmer, whose devotion to the original sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories won him its editorship, became "one of the most controversial figures in science fiction history [due to] a taste for the unorthodox." As with Ray Bradbury or Harlan Ellison (both of whom crossed Palmer's path), Palmer thrust himself into the birth of sci-fi's complex fandom in the 1920s and stayed through the explosive popularity of pulp in the 1930s and '40s, the rise of paperback originals in the '50s and then the decline of both industries (which for Palmer included a foray into smut publishing). Palmer, a loquacious, giddy booster of the genre despite terrible lifelong health problems, was both credited and blamed for driving the fusion of science fiction (which aspired to strict scientific principles in its early years) with mysticism and conspiracy theory. For instance, beginning in 1944, Amazing Stories introduced a bizarre serial concerning suppressed racial memories, the "Shaver Mystery," named for its author, an eccentric with whom Palmer became close friends. Later, as the pulp marketplace contracted, Palmer began other magazines, starting with Fate, focused on early flying saucer sightings; he was also at the center of the controversies around Area 51 and Roswell, N.M. Nadis demonstrates how figures like Palmer and Shaver provoked convulsive, lasting literary movements despite their ostracism from mainstream letters. He produces a vivid cultural history, capturing subtle transformations in American attitudes through an examination of the voluble Palmer's career and writings; however, the narrative style veers from droll to dry. Worthwhile reading for those interested in the origins of today's sci-fi fan culture and the still understudied subject of marginal literary publishing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101616048
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/13/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,198,986
File size:
9 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“The sci-fi pulps made a lasting imprint, as Fred Nadis shows in his entertaining "The Man From Mars"…Mr. Nadis does not take sides in what was once a civil war among the fans but reminds them that there was more than one mighty editor back in the Golden Age.”
Tom Shippey, WALL STREET JOURNAL

"One of science fiction's greatest gadflies gets his due in this lively and entertaining biography. Nadis quotes liberally from [Richard A. Palmer's] editorials and readers letters to piant a vivid portrait of the postwar science fiction scene and fan culture."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“He produces a vivid cultural history, capturing subtle transformations in American attitudes through an examination of the voluble Palmer’s career and writings.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS

“The author paints a story of a larger-than-life writer, editor, and publisher whose unorthodox methods propelled a nascent genre of tales, conspiracies, and other worlds into high visibility.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL

"He [Palmer] was surely one of the most distinctive characters to grace (some would say, disgrace) the science fiction field in the past century. Fred Nadis’ book does him justice, and will provide invaluable insights into the science fiction world of the pulp era"
—Richard A. Lupoff, Locus Magazine

"Lucidly written and unfailingly lively, THE MAN FROM MARS is a biography worthy of its subject. Nadis never stoops to lazy hyperbole…but maintains his balance and his sense of nuance."
Fate Magazine (originally founded by Ray Palmer)
 
"Brisk, entertaining accounts of the beginnings of the science-fiction genre and the zealous fandom it inspired, as well as the complicated relationships between fans and related subcultures devoted to UFOs, the paranormal, and New Age spirituality."
Los Angeles Review of Books

"Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are everything Palmer’s practically never were: restrained, nuanced, intelligently considered. Nadis has a great story, and he relates it exquisitely."
Jerome Clark, Fortean Times
 

"THE MAN FROM MARS provides a fascinating glimpse into a little known regional writer from Wisconsin and his many influences…Ray Palmer was part Isaac Asimov, part P. T. Barnum, and part Charles Fort, a legendary American icon—shining most brightly in kooky waystations of various subcultures."
—Karl Wolff, New York Journal of Books

“Lucidly written and unfailingly lively, The Man From Mars is a biography worthy of its subject. Nadis never stoops to lazy hyperbole…but maintains his balance and his sense of nuance.”
FATE MAGAZINE 

THE MAN FROM MARS is a fascinating story, superbly told.”
—JT Lindroos, Bookgasm
 
“Fred Nadis’s insightful biography demonstrates that Palmer is significant as well as intriguing.”
—Michael Saler, The Washington Post

“Palmer could not have asked for a more sympathetic chronicler, or a better one, than Fred Nadis. His prose and his pronouncements are everything Palmer’s practically never were: restrained, nuanced, intelligently considered. Nadis has a great story, and he relates it exquisitely."
—Jerome Clark, FORTEAN TIMES

“From pulp fiction and occultism to UFO and conspiracy theories, Sci-fi magus Ray Palmer was ahead of the crowd, fashioning 21st century sensibilities far in advance of the online generation. Fred Nadis’s The Man From Mars is a full bodied, in-depth and addictive investigation into the life of this truly underground man. As fast paced and gripping as any pulp adventure, Nadis brings to life the truly amazing story of this 'impresario of the paranormal'. Grab a copy at the newsstand while they last!”
Gary Lachman, author of A Secret History of Consciousness and Madame Blavatsky
 
“A superb biography of one of the leaders in twentieth-century fringe phenomena. I found it more enthralling than any science fiction I have ever read.”
Richard Smoley, author of Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History
 
The Man from Mars is a deeply researched and wonderfully well-written biography of Ray Palmer, a science-fiction editor who opened the field up to some of the craziest pseudoscientific ideas, from ancient underground robots to UFOs. Nadis recreates the wild-and-wooly world of the pulp magazines with gusto and flair, evoking Palmer as part earnest, hard-working editor, part sensationalizing huckster—and ultimately, as a quintessential American. The book is a joy to read."
Rob Latham, professor of English, University of California at Riverside; editor, Science Fiction Studies
 
“An extremely moving account of one of the genuine fathers of contemporary pop culture, told with just the right balance of humor and seriousness. Nadis brilliantly shows that the impulse to ask “What if?” is one of the most thoroughly American habits there is.” 
Ptolemy Tompkins, author of Paradise Fever and The Modern Book of the Dead

“When I first encountered, up close, the imagination of Ray Palmer, I thought: 'Someone has to write a biography of this man.’ And now someone has. The trick with Palmer has always been this: how to write about biographical facts that merge with pulp fictions that, in turn, merge with biographical facts. Fred Nadis has exactly pulled off this piece of real-world magic. Beautifully."
Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal
 

Meet the Author

Fred Nadis has been a visiting associate professor of American studies at Doshisha University in Japan, as well as a freelance journalist, publishing articles in the Atlantic Monthly and other magazines. He has a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
 

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