March sees the birthdays for two magazines that would inspire fandom, Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. Weird Tales introduced H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and Amazing Stories codified, if not named, science fiction via publisher Hugo Gernsback.
Weird Tales originated though refinancing. J.C. Henneberger and J.M. Lansinger founded the Rural Publishing Corporation in 1922 and led with Detective Tales. To divvy up costs, Henneberger began publication of the horror collection Weird Tales in March 1923. “The Unique Magazine,” as it billed itself, found improved success with editor Farnsworth Wright, who previously served as a music critic for the Chicago Herald and Examiner. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos manifested in the magazine’s pages when it published “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1928. The original run ended in 1954, but there have been revivals over the years.
Amazing Stories hit the shelves on March 10, 1926, but is had an April 1926 cover date. It evolved through Hugo Gernsback’s publications. Modern Electrics, which began in 1908, was a science magazine that incorporated speculative articles. He sold his portion in 1913 and started up Electrical Experimenter with additional scientific fiction. In 1920, he renamed it Science and Invention. In 1921, he published Practical Electrics, which became The Experimenter in 1924. Gernsback folded The Experimenter, and debuted Amazing Stories in 1926.
Hugo Gernsback has been remembered for the good as well as the bad. He paid writers as little as he could get away with (sometimes nothing). H.P. Lovecraft called him “Hugo the Rat.” Gernsback coined the term “science fiction” (or “scientifiction”) and earned the title “The Father of Science Fiction.” The annual Hugo Award for best science fiction or fantasy is named after him.
Happy birthdays to Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, and thanks to Henneberger and Gernsback for making the world a bit more weird and amazing.