Sunday, September 5, 2010

1931 letter to Astounding Stories: "Aren't there any tall girls in your imaginations?"

Dear Editor:

Gr-r-r, now I am mad! I do wish that people who want a regular instruction book of a magazine would kindly refrain from spending their valuable pennies on ours.

And if Mr. Johnston of Newark believes us who like A. S. [Astounding Stories] to be morons, why let's be morons! for when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. I'd like to inform this highly intelligent person that our mag is dealing with pure Science Fiction, and why should any author go into detail describing how cities are made to float and why invisible cloaks are invisible? Why, if every paragraph were broken off to let us know how this or that is possible, I'm sure we'd all be yawning and nodding over the magazine, and finally discard it entirely in search of something more to our liking!

Why waste your time, Mr. Johnston, telling us you don't like A. S.? Just don't purchase it, if it isn't to your liking. We're satisfied with what we have.

What if the stories are like fairy tales? Isn't all fiction more or less of a fairy tale? I want Mr. Johnston to get this point: what we want is fiction, pure Science Fiction and not instructions. We read A. S. as a pleasure. We do not have to be scientists just because we are interested in science!

"The Wall of Death" was grand. It's somewhat terrorizing and gruesome, but I get a big "kick" out of such horrors. However, I hope nothing like that would ever happen, 'cause I'm 18 years old, and I'd be among the first ones to be chosen for those mad half-human jelly-fishes, without a doubt.

I shudder to think that meteors could be hurled from one planet to another and then have some kind of machine, with people in it, on the inside of the meteor. But the hero of "The Gray Plague" surely proved himself a hero, in spite of his handicap. I relish the idea of that Venusian instrument, by which one can learn all from another within a few minutes. Something for our students who cannot seem to learn anything.

Here's one point that I don't like: Why are all those invaders from other planets hostile? Why can't they go on an exploring expedition to our Earth? C'm'on, you Authors--get busy!

"The Pirate Planet" has me all hot and bothered, and my brain in a muddle how any craft of such dimension can move through space with such speed. As the story has just started, I can't say much about it, but here's hoping the captured hero conquers the hostile invaders and comes home with bells on and colors flying, as all good stories should end.

That Sargasso Sea, in "Vagabonds of Space," reminds me of a Halloween ghost. And it was just as bad as a ghost, too. After having been scattered once, it just coolly collects itself into twice its size. Br-r-r--that gives me the chills. Howsoever, nevertheless, be that as it may, I will say that I liked it so much that I'm asking for more like it.

Another word to ye Authors: Please do not always have the girls in your stories such sweet little bundles of humanity. Aren't there any tall girls in your imaginations? Please give us tall girls a break once in a while. It makes me feel better. Thanks.

Gertrude Hemken, 5730 So. Oshland Ave., Chicago, Ill.
[Astounding Stories, March 1931]

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