Astounding Stories of Super-Science July 1931: VOL. VII, No. 1 - The Readers' Corner by@astoundingstories

Astounding Stories of Super-Science July 1931: VOL. VII, No. 1 - The Readers' Corner

Dear Editor: Am very much puzzled by the several apparent mistakes in two of the stories in the April issue of Astounding Stories. In "The World Behind the Moon," Mr. Ernst makes an error so obvious that it almost makes me believe that it isn't an error. Like doing a math problem and finding it so easy that you're sure that you have it wrong. Anyway, here is my problem; this is taken verbatim from the story: "At two thousand miles from the Earth there had still been enough hydrogen traces in the ether to give purchase to the explosions of their water-motor." Does the author mean to say that the explosions of the tubes have to have something to push against to have any action? (a) Has it not been proven actually and mathematically that the explosions of rockets and expanding gases are even more powerful in space? The space ship in this story was equipped with both bow and stern tubes; why not fire them to slow the ship down instead of waiting to run into some resistance?
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Astounding Stories

Dare to dream. Dare to go where no other has gone before.

Astounding Stories of Super-Science July 1931, by Astounding Stories is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. VOL. VII, No. 1 - The Readers' Corner


The Author Explains

Dear Editor:

Am very much puzzled by the several apparent mistakes in two of the stories in the April issue of Astounding Stories. In "The World Behind the Moon," Mr. Ernst makes an error so obvious that it almost makes me believe that it isn't an error. Like doing a math problem and finding it so easy that you're sure that you have it wrong. Anyway, here is my problem; this is taken verbatim from the story: "At two thousand miles from the Earth there had still been enough hydrogen traces in the ether to give purchase to the explosions of their water-motor." Does the author mean to say that the explosions of the tubes have to have something to push against to have any action? (a) Has it not been proven actually and mathematically that the explosions of rockets and expanding gases are even more powerful in space? The space ship in this story was equipped with both bow and stern tubes; why not fire them to slow the ship down instead of waiting to run into some resistance?

(b) Also, when they landed they took some air-guns which shot bullets containing a liquid which exploded when heated by the passage of the shell through the barrel; then the author goes ahead and tells us that the planet was about as hot as the tropics. Such heat should explode the bullets, but it didn't. Why?

Mr. Ernst has his heroes do a lot of running around on that little planet.

(c) Since the planet is smaller than the moon, it hasn't much gravity and therefore can't retain a very heavy atmosphere, or one very thick. Anyone doing all that violent exercise would probably die of exhaustion before many minutes of it.

"Four Miles Within" was a good story, but I am unable to understand why they did not find a lot of stagnant air. Air that had lain stagnant for the time that cavern must have been closed would have killed the person who breathed it. Also, I would imagine that it wouldn't be safe to handle a chunk of radium like the characters in the story did; it's liable to burn. However, it probably wasn't pure radium, just pitchblende-bearing rocks.

The rest of the stories were fine. I especially like the stories of the Special Patrol Service which S. P. Wright has created. Let's have some more stories of Commander John Hanson and his crew.

"The Exile of Time" has started off quite well and I look forward to the next installments. Cummings is always good for a batch of thrills and some swell adventure, to say nothing of the enjoyable way he introduces science into the story.

Wish you would publish this, as I would like to get in touch with some other Science-Fiction fans.

By the way, some of the readers seem to want the mag changed, but don't you do a thing to it. All the suggestions, if followed, would make "our" mag like the other S.-F. mags on the market, and I read Astounding Stories because it is DIFFERENT, and I mean every one of those capitals!—Ben Smith, Box 444, Billings, Mont.

Mr. Ernst's Answers:

(a) No, it has not been actually proved. It has been indicated mathematically (by formulae based on conjecture), but never actually solved—for the very good reason that it is impossible to reproduce spacial conditions in earthly laboratories. Know how an explosive force would react in space? We don't even know positively what space is, let alone how our chemicals and instruments would behave in it.

The majority theory is that explosive charges would propel a rocket or space ship more effectively in the (theoretical) emptiness of space, than in our atmosphere. But to my mind it is quite possible that an explosion—a violent expansion of gases causing rapid increase of pressures—would be ineffectual where there are no pressures to be increased. Might not the violently expanding gases fly forth from an exhaust vent to expand instantly, frictionlessly and impotently to the ends of the universe? In my story, "The World Behind the Moon," I assumed that would occur. And no man living is in a position positively to disprove it.

And, as a corollary, if a propulsion explosion cannot have effect in empty space, as presumed in the story, the space ship must enter atmosphere before it can stop by firing its bow tubes. Otherwise, with the bow tubes shooting their expanding gases futilely into nothingness, you could go into "reverse" till the cows came home and the ship would hurtle forward just the same.

(b) Friction of a bullet through a rifle barrel produces a temperature considerably higher than "tropical."

(c) Again, no one knows spacial or planetary conditions. It seems reasonable to assume that a planet's mass may have a fairly direct bearing on the density of its atmosphere. However, Venus, a smaller globe than Earth, is supposed to have a denser atmosphere. For all we know to the contrary, meteors no larger than pebbles may carry about with them microscopic films of "atmospheres" of varying densities.—Paul Ernst.

Hitting Our Stride

Dear Editor:

The more I read Astounding Stories, the more I like it. You're just getting your stride this, the second year. But why not foresee the demand of your Readers and have a few stories by R. F. Starzl? You have other top-notchers such as Ray Cummings, Murray Leinster; and Tom Curry is another good writer. "Monsters of Mars" would have been better if it were boiled down to about two thirds as many pages. It reads "stretched."—W. P. O'Toole, Parker, S. Dak.

"This Missile"

Dear Editor:

Congratulations! Your magazine—excuse me, "our" magazine—is going over big!

However, there are a few things I would like to suggest. First, why not take a vote on the quarterly idea? Second, give us more stories and illustrations. Increase the price if you have to, but keep up the good work and I'm your steady buyer. So far I have not missed a copy, and my only regret is that I didn't have sense enough to keep the first six or seven instead of throwing them away.

By the way, didn't I notice a rather heated argument going on in "The Readers' Corner" about reprints? And what is the matter with reprints? Nothing, except that they are reprints. That is hardly an argument, but if you value my monthly twenty cents please give us at least one reprint to a volume, which I see comprises three copies of your—pardon, "our" magazine. If the rest of the Readers acquiesce I think we ought to have a reprint in the near future. If they object, well, the world will roll on.

Your time is precious, and besides there are more Readers waiting to say the same things I have just said, so I will close this missile—er, missive.—Eugene Benefiel, The Pioneer, Tucson, Arizona.

From the Antipodes

Dear Editor:

As a regular Reader of your magazine, Astounding Stories, I thought I would write and tell you how I appreciate the stories contained in it. I am a heavy Reader and have always had a soft spot for stories unusual and bizarre. Until I happened to see your magazine at a bookshop in Perth, I had to be content with occasional Science Fiction stories by Wells, Burroughs, and a few others which I picked up in my browsing in various bookshops and libraries. Now that I get Astounding Stories regularly, I have a monthly feast of good things that I read and reread until the next issue arrives.

You ask us Readers to criticize the magazine. Well, I have no complaints worth mentioning, except that some of the illustrations do not tally sufficiently with the text of the story. Some of the stories, in my opinion, are weak and not worth reading. But, as tastes differ, I take everything as it is, and say you have a first-class publication.

Will you thank your Authors for me for the very many hours of interesting reading they have given me during the past twelve months? Later I intend to get my Astounding Stories bound in cloth covers, each twelve months' issue in a volume.

If any Reader sees this letter—of course, should you think it worth while to publish it—and can spare the time to write to me here in Australia, I would be very grateful. Perhaps we could exchange snapshots of various places of interest. Every part of America interests me, so a Reader need not back out because he thinks his district would not be interesting enough.

Here's hoping Astounding Stories grows and prospers as the years go by, so as to give more entertainment to me and my fellow-readers. A rather selfish wish, you may think, but you will forgive me when I say that I look forward with great pleasure to each month's issue.—Claude J. Nanley, 65 Forrest St., Mt. Lawley, Western Australia.

Note to Ray Cummings

Dear Editor:

I have just started Ray Cummings' latest story in the April issue. Although I wish Cummings would lay off this type of story, I am willing to read anything by him. Jack Williamson's "The Lake of Light" ranked second in this issue. He is another Merritt. "The Ghost World," by S. P. Wright, came third. Edmond Hamilton was better than he has been of late.

If anyone wants to read "Through the Dragon Glass," "The Girl in the Golden Atom," etc, and writes to me, I will tell him where they can be obtained. (This is not an attempt at free advertising.) I know several places where it is possible to secure works of this kind and will be glad to assist anyone who doesn't.

Cummings brought me to your mag. He is keeping me there. So hold on to him. But, please tell him to forget all about time and probe the mysteries of the infinitely large and small, of interplanetary space, of future civilization and future warfare.—Dale Mullen, 611 West Fifth, Topeka, Kansas.

The Effects of Cannabis

Dear Editor:

I have sold magazines, written for magazines, and, now that I have just concluded your April issue, I am editing one—for myself. Specifically, one story, "Four Miles Within." Inside of a radium mine! Chased by an amoeboid body! Ooh!

Several years ago when I was a clinical chemist in hospital service, the Roentgenologist, also a young chap, and a surgical nurse and myself were so badly burned with three grains of the substance enclosed in a lead capsule that we were crippled for nearly a month. [No fair. Your experience was with pure radium. It was only radium ore in the story.—Ed.] Imagine being four miles inside of the earth exposed to radium "ore"!

And chased and pursued by a gigantic amoeba! Oh, oh! That must have been my pet mother-of-vinegar that escaped. She was hard to herd. She took after my dad's pet fish which fell through a crack in a bridge and was drowned.

In passing, it is interesting to note that persons can vanish "into" a plane surface; say, "into" a fifth dimension. My instructor in trig. must have been all wet.

And Dr. Bird catches a man withdrawing "menthium" from human brains with a "needle," without the use of either x-ray or a trephine!

And then low forms of life such as crabs and alligators with very highly developed scientific knowledge! A few issues ago octopi were in the lead!

And those "space" ships! Mars must be an interesting spot. And those Martians! Sometimes they are ant-like, and other times worms, and again human freaks! (I still prefer the silver-green messenger I saw on the stage twenty years ago. He was a gentleman and a scholar and no one yet has improved upon him.)

And those radio waves that can vibrate matter in a straight line! One Jackson Gee vibrates it in two straight lines. (Rather funny at that.)

And people disappear into an atom by taking pellets! They take the pellets into their system and that shrinks or expands them. How does the author calculate that in "Beyond The Vanishing Point"? The pellets must contain cannabis indica (hashish) I guess. Once upon a time I was suffering from an acute attack of colic and was obliged to use an anti-spasmodic. I took cannabis, and in the delirium that followed I shrunk small enough to walk into a mouse-hole into which I had seen a mouse disappear a few hours previous. The mouse was there and looked like an elephant. I awoke in a sweat.

Maybe all your stories won't be weird and full of monstrosities. Science is full of beauty and culture, you know.—Arthur H. Carrington, Seaside Heights Pharmacy, Seaside Heights, N. J.

Where Fantasy Meets Science Fiction

Dear Editor:

I have purchased many of the issues of your magazine, and have read everything in them, including the letter columns, with great interest. I have particularly enjoyed certain stories, such as "The Forgotten Planet," "The Jovian Jest" and "The Planet of Dread," in which genuine imaginative quality was combined with good writing. Many other tales, not so well written, I have enjoyed for their fantasy, their suggestive ideas.

In following "The Readers' Corner" I have noted the objection to so-called "impossible" stories, voiced by some of your Readers. Stories thus classified, one would infer, are tales dealing with the marvelous and the mysterious in which the author has not attempted to give a naturalistic or scientific explanation of his wonders and mysteries. In other words, he has not rendered them in terms of the test-tube. He has admitted the inexplicable, the "supernatural."

Personally, I enjoy stories of this type, as well as those that are written with the purely scientific approach. I suspect that those who condemn them are suffering from a rather amusing—and also pathetic—sort of unconscious hypocrisy. I think that people who read your magazine, as well as Science Fiction magazines in general, are people with the ingrained human love for wonder and mystery; but some of them are afraid to accept and enjoy anything—even a fairy tale—that is not couched in the diction of modern materialistic science, with a show of concern for verified credibilities. Probably, in most cases, they would like and prize the very stories that they condemn if the writer had used a different terminology, and had offered explanations that were even superficially logical according to known laws.

Please do not think that I am decrying, or even criticizing, Science Fiction. I consider it a highly important and significant branch of present-day writing, and have hopes of contributing to it myself. I am merely advocating an open attitude of mind and imagination. For those who think that the "impossible" requires justification—or cannot be justified—I would suggest that the only impossible thing is to define and delimit the impossible. In an infinite, eternal universe, there is nothing imaginable—or unimaginable—which might not happen, might not be true, somewhere or sometime. Science has discovered, and will continue to discover, an enormous amount of relative data; but there will always remain an illimitable residue of the undiscovered and the unknown. And the field for imaginative fiction, both scientific and non-scientific, is, it seems to me, wholly inexhaustible.—Clark Ashton Smith, Auburn, Cal.

Heroes Too Heroic?

Dear Editor:

I wrote you a letter last month. I'm writing you a letter this month, and I'll write you a letter next month. In fact, I'm going to write you a letter every month just as soon as I finish the latest issue of Astounding Stories, so you might as well have a special department installed in Astounding Stories right away entitled "Letters from the Sap Who Thinks He Is So Smart," or something else equally appropriate.

Have you ever noticed that 99% of Edmond Hamilton's stories have the same plot as "Monsters of Mars"? The plot I mean is this:

A group of men, preferably three, get into enemy territory. As to the enemy (if the enemy are not lizards or some other repulsive form of life), Mr. Hamilton has them wear repulsive clothes, live in ugly buildings, etc., to make the reader dislike them at the start. An old, old idea, and quite a commonly used one, is to have these creatures about to declare war and conquer the hero's country with the enemy's super-weapons; and after capturing our brave, bold, and heroic heroes, proceed to tell the heroes the way the weapons work, the zero hour set for attack, and the line of march of the enemy's armies (as if prisoners are told all these things!). Our heroes then cleverly escape and grab an enemy machine. About two thousand of the enemy close in to the kill, but (Mr. Hamilton simply loves "buts") our brave heroes glance over the strange controls of the captured craft and without hesitation pick out the right levers and hold the enemy at bay. After annihilating most of them, and after the zero hour has come, the heroes prevent the great invasion and return to their native land.

It is interesting to note that the heroes, though greatly outnumbered and with strange weapons, always down many of the enemy while they themselves escape unscathed. Also, Mr. Hamilton loves narrow escapes, and phrases such as these appear frequently in his story: "But even as he raised his deadly ray-tube, I leaped and knocked it from his hand. They charged, but I was too quick and dodged as the foremost hurtled at me."

These incidents are supposed to get the reader all excited, but after a while they grow monotonous.

The second story in the April issue, "The Exile of Time," promises to be excellent in every way. It would be interesting if George Rankin, in his time-traveling, should witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the Battle of Bunker Hill.

"Four Miles Within" was good also, save that the heroes' escape from being marooned and James Quade's death savored unpleasantly of Edmond Hamilton.

Sewell Peaslee Wright's adventures of the space patrol are always fascinating, and "The Ghost World" is a splendid example of this.

On the whole, your magazine is practically perfect.—Robert Baldwin, 359 Hazel Ave., Highland Park, Ill.

Likes 'Em to Seem Real

Dear Editor:

I've been reading Astounding Stories since the November issue, and I think that, on the whole, it is a very good magazine. It is of a handy size, convenient price, and O. K., except that you might cut the edges of the pages smoother. Wesso is an excellent artist.

I think your best authors are Harl Vincent, Ray Cummings and Capt. S. P. Meek. I like Capt. Meek's Dr. Bird stories immensely. Also among your best authors are Charles W. Diffin aid Murray Leinster. And now about the stories themselves.

I've noticed that quite a few in "The Readers' Corner" are all for fiction and no scientific explanation. I like fiction, too, but anybody can make up a pretty good plot about a girl, a lover, and a villain, and have a wild theory of super-science for a basis, and then not explain it. What I like most is when an Author—who uses such a theory as, for instance, making matter invisible by bathing it with a ray, the color of which is beyond the range of the spectrum, as in "Terrors Unseen," by Harl Vincent—backs up his idea with a clear explanation and makes it plausible and convincing. It makes his tale seem more possible, and hence more real. I like it much better when the writer doesn't even suggest a theory in his plot—to say nothing of trying to prove it—than when he gives you the invention of a professor in the year 2431, and lets you imagine how and why it works.—T. Caldwell, 912 Moreno Road, Santa Barbara, Cal.

Covers Too Imaginative?

Dear Editor:

For crying out loud, why can't everyone be satisfied! One person says "our" mag is too small, another says it's O. K.; one wants so-and-so's work, someone else doesn't, etc. Why can't Readers be reasonable? They'll continually admit A. S. is the best Science Fiction mag on the market (with which I thoroughly agree) and then they'll start complaining. As if anything can be 100% perfect—though A. S. comes awfully near it!

Then for some of the complaints, I recall but two sensible ones. I have read every issue of A. S. except the first two, and several times I have been tempted to write to you about them.

1—Too imaginative a cover gives the narrow-minded non-Science Fiction reader an idea that "our" mag contains trash. I refer to such covers as those on the August, September, October, 1930, issues, and the March, April, and especially May, 1931, issues. These people's opinions reflect rather harshly on the faithful A. S. Readers. Can't the covers be more like those on the March, May, June and July, 1930, issues? (All those stories themselves, however, were great, as usual.)

2—Please hold down on "The Readers' Corner." Isn't an eight and nine-page section a bit too much? A short story has been suggested—good idea. Why not limit it to a maximum of, say, five pages?

I shall not complain of any of the stories, because I realize that others probably enjoyed what very few I may not have. I must, however, say that Ray Cummings' "Brigands of the Moon" holds first place, in my opinion. It was great! Please keep up the excellent work.—Meredith L. Evons, 4001 Cedar Lane, Drexel Hill, Pa.

"Evenly Divided"

Dear Editor:

Although I missed the first few issues of Astounding Stories due to the fact that I was not aware of its publication, I have become a regular reader.

In glancing through your "Readers' Corner," I became aware of the fact that most of the letters therein praise Astounding Stories to the skies, and put it far ahead of any other Science Fiction magazine. I will not go quite so far, as it is my belief that most magazines of this type are on the same level. In fact, it seems absurd to me to state otherwise, as the authors who write for you one month publish stories in another magazine the next month. Of course, these authors put out, once in a while, stories that are much better than their usual offering, but, taken over a fairly long period of time, these periodic occurrences will be about evenly divided among various magazines. I have the conceit to believe that I know what I am talking about, as my observations are based on five years of Science Fiction reading.

Of course, while I believe that there are other magazines equally as good, Astounding Stories is certainly not inferior to any. There is always room for a Science Fiction magazine of the same caliber as Astounding Stories, but unfortunately for the public there are too few of them.—James M. Kennedy, Ithaca, N. Y.

Machine or Beast?

Dear Editor:

Having read about every issue of Astounding Stories to date, I have decided that it is the best of the three Science Fiction magazines that I have read.

The best story that you have published yet, in my opinion, is "Brigands of the Moon," by Ray Cummings. Sewell Peaslee Wright and Victor Rousseau are also very good writers. The only two stories that I did not like were "Murder Madness" and "Earth, the Marauder." The former belonged in a detective magazine, and the latter in the waste basket. It was too far-fetched for even my imagination.

Now a word about your cover illustrations. The first issue that I bought convinced me that your artist was a genius, but my opinion of him is steadily decreasing. That illustration that I speak of was a scene from "Brigands of the Moon." It certainly was good. Lately, I am ashamed to show the magazine to my friends because of the gaudily painted and repugnant creatures on the cover. A picture of a machine is much more appropriate than a beast of some kind. Wesso seems to be able draw a picture like that which is on the March or April, 1930, numbers better than those of late.

I would like to communicate with Science Fiction Readers of about my age, which is 15. I will answer any or all letters that are written to me.—William D. Crocker, Ashfield, Mass.

Expert Opinion

Dear Editor:

May I express my pleasure and gratification in your worthy magazine? I read two other Science Fiction publications beside yours, but Astounding Stories is by far their superior, especially as there is a human interest to your stories that is sadly lacking in others. They also contain too much technical detail. Your magazine is just right. The paper is easy on the eyes and the type is distinct and doesn't blur or tire the eyes.

The cover illustrations leave nothing to be desired. The edges, size, number of pages, etc., are of no concern to me. I have read every issue of Astounding Stories since it was published and can find no fault with it whatever. If those soreheads who howl incessantly about minor details would only try to get out a paper of their own they would soon see what a wonderful work you are doing. The May 1931, issue, which I have just finished, is really the best collection of Science Fiction stories I've read in many a day, and I've read quite a bit.

I wish you every success in the world.—C. P. Binsford. M. D., 604 Pearl Street, Huntsville, Ala.

A Satirical Drama—Complete

Dear Editor:

One Act Play of the Future

Time-traveler from the Twentieth Century: "So this is the year 24,000 A.D.?"

Sulsu-D-9: "Yes, Visitor from the Past."

Time-Traveler: "Say, Sulsu-D-9, has Astounding Stories brought out a Quarterly yet?"

Sulsu-D-9: "No, Man from the Long Ago, but it looks like we'll have one within the next five years!"—Forrest J. Ackerman, 530 Staples Ave., San Francisco, Cal.

An Employment Non-Solution

Dear Editor:

Owing to the fact that I have been a constant Reader of Astounding Stories since the first day it appeared on the news-stands, I think that it is about time for me to drop a few lines to you to show my appreciation for the many, many good stories that you have given the Readers of Science Fiction in the pages of your mag.

I agree very strongly with Mr. Sager of Bessemer, Ala., about the paper in the book. If the stories are interesting, why in the name of Seven Kinds of Hades should anyone worry about the kind of paper as long as the print is readable. What is that old saying about the best articles not being always in the best wrapped parcels? I am here to say that Astounding Stories is the best of its kind.

What I have to say now is by no means a criticism. I am merely asking for an explanation. I have no regard for those people who are continually looking for flaws to peck about in various stories.

In the May, 1931, issue my choice of all the fine stories was "Dark Moon." That was a super-story and I enjoyed it from start to finish, even the third or fourth time I read it. If a story is worth reading once it is worth reading several times, is my belief. But now comes the question. Will some other kind Reader endeavor to explain it to me?

How could the intrepid explorers on the Dark Moon see the light of Earth and the other planets if the light from the Dark Moon could not pass the gaseous formation to Earth, etc.? And how could the Dark Moon receive the light that it did? [Mr. Diffin did not explain that; perhaps he intends to do so in a sequel. Who knows?—Ed.].

One main fault I have to find with Astounding Stories is that it is not published twice a month, if not oftener. By the way, would that not be a plan to help out unemployment. It would put more men to work and I am sure that all of us Readers could scrape up 20c more a month for this wonderful magazine. How about it? [But this, I think, would increase unemployment!—Ed.].

I would like to hear from some of the Readers in the near future. Best wishes for the continued prosperity of the magazine.—Christen G. Davis, 531 South Millard, Chicago, Ill.

Doggoned If He Didn't!

Dear Editor:

The stories, being the most important part of the magazine, come first:

"Dark Moon," by Charles W. Diffin, is the best novelette you have yet published, and that's saying a lot for it, isn't it?

Next comes "The Exile of Time," by Ray Cummings, another impossible time-traveling story, but nevertheless interesting.

Welcome to Astounding Stories, Mr. Schachner and Mr. Zagat. Your story "The Death Cloud" was great. I hope you'll favor us with another story very soon.

And if here isn't Capt. Meek with another Dr. Bird story! Captain Meek, if you stop writing them, I'll never read another of your marvelous stories.

The moon turned green, and I'll be doggone if Hal K. Wells didn't go and write a nice little story telling us all about it. That was nice of you, Mr. Wells; I enjoyed it very, very much.

Now let's take a look at the cover. Mr. Wesso, you certainly have a marvelous imagination. You are an excellent cover artist. It isn't everyone that can illustrate Science Fiction stories, I do wish that you will illustrate Science Fiction stories only, as that is where you are at your best. Almost any artist can illustrate detective story magazines, so don't waste your talent on them.

Ha! Here we are at the "In the Next Issue" page.

Hurrah! Hurrah! Arthur J. Burks is back again! Can't you manage to get next month's issue out a little earlier, Mr. Bates? R. F. Starzl's also back again; and there's to be another story by Charles W. Diffin. Isn't this a grand old world?

I will close with this suggestion. Let's have more illustrations. At least two for each installment of the serials and two for each long novelette. Make the extra illustrations full page ones.—Jack Darrow, 4225 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, Ill.

"—And Amusing"

Dear Editor:

I have just finished the May issue of A. S. and I want to tell you that "Dark Moon," by Charles W. Diffin, was fine. Let's have more stories like that. Your "The Readers' Corner" sure is interesting—and amusing. I like to read letters from Readers.

A bouquet: A. S. is a really fine magazine. I think it's one of the best of its kind. Of course, it can be improved—but what can't? There's no sense in criticizing a magazine as some Readers do. I think if the Editor could make his magazine any better, he would do it without hesitation.—Charles Strada, 503 Olive Street, Kansas City, Mo.

Cummings and Wagner

Dear Editor:

Astounding Stories is in my estimation the best magazine on the market. Words are feeble when an accurate description of the pleasure that I receive from every issue of Astounding Stories is needed. However, I will say that next to my extreme appreciation of classical music, I rate Astounding Stories as being the best outlet of my emotions. As in the music of that great German composer, Richard Wagner, whom I rate as the greatest of all composers, so do I find an outlet of my emotions by reading a novelette by Cummings, Vincent, Leinster and many other of your excellent Authors.

For example, I shall take the overture to "The Flying Dutchman." In the beginning of this overture we hear the opening call played by the trombones with the string section accompanying this principal motive with wild crescendo. This excites the brain so that a taste of the supreme motives is like an appetizer at dinner. So, taking the novel by Ray Cummings entitled "Beyond the Vanishing Point," we find that in the opening paragraphs there is also an "appetizer" to the rest of the story which is to follow.

Now, returning to our "Flying Dutchman" overture, we find that after the introduction by the wild calls by the trombones and the string accompaniment, we gradually drift into a somewhat pensive mood; so in the story, for the next few pages we find more or less quiet reading. Gradually, however, this quiet mood in the music gives way to rolls on the kettle-drums announcing a grand climax; finally the music becomes wilder and wilder until at last the storm breaks and we actually picture this ghost-ship riding over the waves in a terrific storm. Lightning flashes, thunder roars, huge waves sweep over the deck of the ship as we see the Dutchman at the wheel laughing out his defiance in diabolical fury.

And so in the story we are finally led up to a grand climax which actually grips anyone with an ounce of red blood in his veins.

And now I would like to ask the following questions:

Is there some Reader of Astounding Stories who no longer has any use for the old issues of Astounding Stories and would be so kind as to send me these? From the first issue up to the November, 1930, issue and also the December, 1930, issue are the magazines that I should like to have.

Leave your magazine as is, only have one good long novelette, not two fairly good ones as in your April issue, which was not up to the standard set by your previous magazines.—Walter G. Diehl, 145-38 Eighth Ave., Malba, L. I., N. Y.

This Time-Traveling Traffic

Dear Editor:

Many times during the past months, while reading your really remarkable magazine, I have come across contradictions in explanations throughout the stories, which, while not very serious, tend to give me the impression that the Authors either did not care about or did not see through the errors they committed. I did not complain about them, considering them but minor mistakes.

But in Ray Cummings' latest current novel, "The Exile of Time," there exists such a monstrosity as I believe calls for an explanation.

Mr. Cummings' story, you know, centers around his time-traveling machine. If such a thing were possible, would it not be reasonable to believe that a holder of the secret of time-traveling could go back into the past and prevent some catastrophe or tragedy as his historical knowledge of the event would make possible?

According to this theory then, a person could go back into the past and divert the hand of Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865, about to assassinate Lincoln.

But this shows its own impossibilities: that of two contradicting absolute truths for the world to believe.

Likewise, a person could travel into the future, learn of his own death, go back into his own time and take measures to prevent it. In the same way, this could not be. [But Mr. Cummings explains that these things are impossible.—Ed.]

I do not mean to be critical, but it would lend much more interest to the story if the authors would be a bit more careful.—Robert W. Conrad, Rush City, Minn.


Dear Editor:

In the short time your mag. has been out, it has already established itself as the best in the field. I got a real kick out of most of your stories.

In the May issue, two yarns are outstanding: Charles W. Diffin's splendid "Dark Moon" and Nat Schachner and Arthur L. Zagat's especially fine "The Death Cloud." These two are as thrilling stories as I have ever read. Mr. Diffin I've read before and always enjoyed; but Messrs. Schachner and Zagat are new to me. I am looking forward to seeing more of their stuff.

But what has happened to Cummings? He used to be aces up, but now comes this tripe of his called "The Exile of Time"; especially the current installment with its long-winded rot about mysticism and theosophy and the Lord knows what. Where was the Editor when this blew in? Surely there are plenty of Swami sheets for that truck; it has no place in Astounding Stories.

Give us more of Diffin, Leinster, Schachner, Zagat and Rousseau, and you'll keep us all satisfied.—D. Kay, Standish Arms, Brooklyn, N. Y.

For Rocket Fans

Dear Editor:

It may interest your Readers to know that the American Interplanetary Society has just completed its first year of existence, and looks forward to a most energetic second year in pursuing its aims.

The Society has practically completed the first lap of its research on the possibilities and limitations of the rocket, and intends to continue this research for another year before publishing a complete report which shall be the first extensive survey of the rocket in English.

We plan also to extend the size and scope of our monthly Bulletin, to make of it a real magazine that shall publish all the news, both of America and abroad, dealing with developments in astronautics and rocketry. It will also contain the reports of the Society's members on the rocket, as well as interesting general articles on the various phases of interplanetary travel.

Plans are also maturing for a campaign of mutual experimentation on the rocket which we shall be ready to carry out before the end of this year. The Society is also completing plans for the formation of an International Interplanetary Commission which shall coordinate the work of the national societies and plan to solve the problems of astronautics on a world-wide basis.

While the growth of the Society during the past year was very promising we hope to extend during this year the scope and field of our activities and membership. We have members now in thirty-six states, in Canada, Mexico, France and Russia. To your readers we offer our active and associate memberships, giving to lovers of Science Fiction a chance to assist in the bringing to realization the dream of all interplanetary travel.

Information about the Society and the classes of membership can be obtained by writing to the secretary at the address below.—Nathan Schachner, Sec., American Interplanetary Society. 113 West 42nd St., New York City.

"The Readers' Corner"

All readers are extended a sincere and cordial invitation to "come over in 'The Readers' Corner'" and join in our monthly discussion of stories, authors, scientific principles and possibilities—everything that's of common interest in connection with our Astounding Stories.

Although from time to time the Editor may make a comment or so, this is a department primarily for Readers, and we want you to make full use of it. Likes, dislikes, criticisms, explanations, roses, brickbats, suggestions—everything's welcome here; so "come over in 'The Readers' Corner'" and discuss it with all of us!

The Editor.


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Various. 2010. Astounding Stories of Super-Science, July 1931. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from

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