Monday, July 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

Jeffery Lloyd Castle - a two-book wonder. Rummaging thru my bookshelves for something to read (other than tons of ebook and on-line great stuff), I found a copy of "Vanguard to Venus" by Castle. It's a book of the month club hardback. Published 1957. Cool, methinks, the Golden Age or at least close to it. Here is the backcover copy:

LIFE Magazine says there are more than TWO MILLION science fiction fans in this country. From all corners of the nation comes the resounding proof that science fiction has established itself as an exciting and imaginative NEW FORM OF LITERATURE that is attracting literally tens of thousands of new readers every year!
Why? Because no other form of fiction can provide you with such thrilling and unprecedented adventures! No other form of fiction can take you on an eerie trip to Mars . . . amaze you with a journey into the year 3000 A.D. ... or sweep you into the fabulous realms of unexplored Space! Yes, it's no wonder that this exciting new form of imaginative literature has captivated the largest group of fascinated new readers in the United States today!

Warms your cockles, eh? Now we all know when Science Fiction became mainstream. This book's publisher (Dodd, Mead) is pretty darn sure that Castle's book announces the GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION! Woo hoo!

From the jacket flap:

There is an accuracy and integrity about the writing of Jeffery Castle which distinguish his work from the FREAKISH IMAGININGS of lesser writers. And there is more than a touch of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells at their best in the verve and excitement with which he crowds the pages of this new book.

Oh, I guess that's the freakish imaginings of lesser writers such as Manley Wade Wellman, H.P. Lovecraft, E.E. Doc Smith, Jack Williamson, Murray Leinster, Karel Capek, John W. Campbell, C.L. Moore, Stanley Winebaum, Henry Kuttner, Eric Frank Russell, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and others. Oh, that was just the 1930's!

My conclusion is that Sci Fi went mainstream around the 50's. I'm not a student of the history, but I recognize and have read all of the above. Never head of Castle, but I'll salute him in getting the big time publishers to figure out this crazy stuff was going to be big. Really, really big.

Just a blast from the past that I found interesting and amusing. The book ain't half bad either.

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