Let's start with the cover of the May 1951 issue:


It might only run for 128 digest-size pages, but this issue of Marvel Science Stories, the last before it changed its name to Marvel Science Fiction, and the first one not in the pulp format, crammed in so much stuff it needed two pages for its table of contents. Norman Saunders painted the cover, one of nine he did in the genre at around this time, following on from four a decade earlier; he also did some interior artwork in the early fifties. As a pulp, Marvel Science Stories, edited always by Robert O. Erisman, had begun in 1938 - it took a teensy break from 1941 to 1950, with the final issue cover-dated May 1952, making a total of just fifteen issues.

Talking of interior artwork, this issue certainly is rather special; given the link with the Timely/Atlas/Marvel comics, it isn’t surprising to find Carl "Human Torch" Burgos here, illustrating “Golden Girl” by Jack Vance, and also doing small portraits for the “Dianetics Question” controversy. Harry Harrison, later to become a well-known sf author, and at that time a comics artist, illustrated “Polyoid” by Bryce Walton, “Captain Wyxtpthll’s Flying Saucer” by Arthur C. Clarke, and “Circle” by Milton Lesser, while Vincent Napoli illustrated “Second Advent” by Mack Reynolds, and “The Thing” by Richard Matheson. Lee J. Ames provided the art for the 36-page featured novel, “The Ones” by Betsy Curtis – and Frank R. Paul was the artist for “Hallock’s Madness”, the novelette by William Tenn. Paul kept busy illustrating until 1953, before slowing down for his final decade – not bad for someone whose sf illustrating career had begun in 1919. It's interesting to see the artists given credit on the contents page in bold type.

So, one (36-page) "feature novel," a "thrilling novelette," six short stories, the Dianetics special feature (L. Ron's piece is entitled "Homo Superior, Here We Come"), three pages of "amazing science adventures" scientific facts, a page or so of "Under the Lens" readers' letters, a science quiz, "Star-Gazing Into the Future" on the inside back cover about the observatory on Palomar Mountain in California (top scientist, Edwin P. Hubble)... and there's even an editorial. "Here is our answer - in action - to the hundreds of requests we have received from our readers, to go small size, to get the best authors in the field, to get higher quality illustrations and covers, to become, in fact, the leading science-fiction magazine. You'll find the stories in the new MARVEL mature and varied, but always interesting. Our writers have only these instructions: 'Make it mature, make it alive, but above all - make it a good story.'"