Rocket Stories, April 1953:


I've got a complete collection of this particular magazine - well, it only ran for three quarterly issues, edited by "Wade Kaempfert" - for the first two issues that was Lester del Rey, apparently, while the final issue had Harry Harrison doing the work. Rocket Stories was a companion magazine to Space Science Fiction, which ran for eight issues, starting with May 1952, edited (in his own name) by Lester del Rey.

I must say that, for a first issue, the line-up looks less than stellar. The lead 49-page "complete novel" was by H. A. DeRoso, his second and last sf story. He was mainly a writer of westerns, with a "noir" feel. The description on the contents page here for "The Quest of Quaa" was "Why should a homeless exile from Earth risk his life to help the planet that had kicked him out?"

On the novelette side, John Jakes contributed "Jackrogue Second" - his sf writing career had only started in 1950, and this was his 27th sale. We may remember him best for Brak the Barbarian, but to non-sf readers, the "North and South" trilogy and the "Kent Family Chronicles" would come to mind. "They brought him back after eons of time - but nobody worried about what he would find for himself." Milton Lesser had also begun in 1950, and by my calculations "The Idols of Wuld" was his 41st sale. If his name isn't remembered today, well, he did also use a few other names - for example, as author of the Chester Drum mysteries, Stephen Marlowe. "A little band of five against the Galaxy - and one of them was known to be a traitor Scholar!"

Moving on to the three short stories, "Welcome, Voyagers" was Hubert J. Bernhard's only sf sale. Ward Botsford, author of "This World is Condemned," was also a one-hit wonder, but at least William Morrison, author of "The Haters," was an sf regular, with a career lasting from the early forties to the late fifties. It is surprising that his name didn't make it onto the front cover... which, on close inspection, I see had the "April" cover date added in silver on top of something else. The art there is by Emsh; interior artwork is credited to Beecham, Berwin, Ebel, Napoli, and Orban.

The editorial is entitled "Up Ship!" It begins "The rocket trails are already blazing across the sky, and their roaring can be heard in some sections of this country as a regular thing. Man is outward bound, to keep the long overdue rendezvous with the stars that have mocked and dared him on since he first huddled over his tiny fire at night and began trying to count them." A bit over-optimistic, perhaps, as, 64 years later, we're still huddled round our fires... but the future was a bit different then!