On Amazing Stories Issue 4, and Something From the Vaults

FelineLightMy latest Amazing Stories retrospective is now live, looking back at issue 4 from July 1926.

Amongst the material in this edition is a letter from George Allan England, one of the authors who contributed to issue 1, which I found quite interesting in light of recent ideological disputes within SF. I did include an excerpt from the letter in my article, I thought that it was worth reprinting in full without comment as a historical specimen…


From GEORGE ALLAN ENGLAND
Author of “The Thing from Outside”
Mr. H. Gernsback, June 4, 1926
Editor, “Amazing Stories,” New York City.

Dear Mr. Gernsback,

I cannot thank you too cordially for the opportunity you give me to say something in approval of your plan to print scientific fiction. This is supposed to be the Age of Science, and the more widely scientific ideas are spread, the better. Fiction is certainly one of the most effective methods of disseminating scientific ideas.

The world is too much given over to silly, meaningless and licentious fiction. The type of stories you propose to print can do much to combat this evil tendency. Moreover, such stories will wage war on the reactionary campaign now going on. The saying that “Science has conquered the world” is unfortunately far from true. Only a very small percentage of people have as yet accepted scientific thought with all its implication. The masses still cling to worn-out old religious dogmas that even an elementary knowledge of science would destroy. Schools and churches still keep the hoary old superstitions alive, and actively fight to do so. The clergy realize that the real triumph of science would oust them from soft sinecures; bluntly put, from their graft. Today, they are seeking, with some success, to have time taken from school-hours, for religious instruction. They are backing the fight, in many states, to have science prohibited in the schools and colleges. An era of reaction is upon us. “Science Service,” and your magazines, are doing noble work, which should by all means be extended. If the “black beetles of superstition” had their way, evolution would be banished from modern thought. This must not be. The war is on, and you stand on the firing-line.

For years I have advocated the teaching of evolution in grammar-schools, high schools and academies, as well as in universities. This one study would drive the inanities of superstition out of court, with ridicule. By all means, Mr. Gernsback, publish all the scientific fiction you can, especially with bearing on evolution. The clergy can dominate educational systems, but they cannot control magazines. If the people cannot be reached through the schools, they can through the magazines. Your work is of immense importance.

With all good wishes for your unqualified success, and with the faith that ultimately “truth is mighty and will prevail,” I am as ever,

Most cordially yours,
GEORGE ALLAN ENGLAND

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