Dynamic Science Stories

Dynamic Science Stories was the second all-science fiction magazine from Western Fiction Publishing; founded in 1932 by Martin Goodman and partner Louis Silberkleit, Western became the sole property of 24-year old Goodman in 1934, and continued to produce the western and adventure titles that had been its staple since its inception. In 1938, Goodman, under Western Fiction's "Red Circle" imprint, released Marvel Science Stories, the first, professional all-sf pulp title since 1931 and the debut of the short-lived Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories, from Good Story Magazine Co.; in February, 1939 Goodman followed up with Marvel's companion title, intended to carry more novel-length fiction, Dynamic Science Stories. While part of a "science fiction boom" of pulp titles following Orson Welles's October, 1939 radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds, Dynamic was not a result of that event's resulting notoriety. Its publication had been announced prior to the Halloween-night event.

While Goodman was credited as both publisher and editor of Dynamic, the title's actual editor was Robert O. Erisman, an ad copywriter who had come to handle much of Goodman's pulp editorial work. The narratives found in Dynamic's pages were not heavy on scientific extrapolation, á la Gernsback, but were rather action and adventure stories transplanted to alien or other-dimensional locales, with a bit of science thrown in where needed. The title featured both new and established sf authors. Stanton Coblentz, a historian and poet who had begun writing science fiction a decade earlier, provided Dynamic's first novel-length feature, "Lord of Tranerica;" L. Sprague de Camp contributed a short story to Dynamic's second issue ("Aranias"), and the second cover story, "Prison of Time," was the work of Eando Binder. Many authors were willing to augment narratives to fit Goodman's desire for more action-centric sf, for both Dynamic and Marvel. It seems this was largely due to the amicability of editor Erisman himself, who Frederick Pohl once described as "one of the friendliest of editors" to be found in the pulp sf industry. Much of Dynamic's fiction was heavily influenced by international tensions, as was a good deal of sf at the time – the projected battle between American democracy and European fascism was played out across otherworldly, fantastical settings. Cover artwork was provided by genre stalwarts Frank R. Paul and Norman Saunders.

Similar to, but certainly not to the same extant as, pulp-originator Frank Munsey, Goodman had a tendency to tinker with titles, or end those that did not meet his expectations at the time, a penchant demonstrated by the sporadic publication history of Marvel Science Stories, which underwent several name changes and at one point experienced a decade-long gap between issues. Dynamic Science Stories ended after only two installments, possibly due to both Goodman's whims, and the publisher's planned entry into a new medium – within 9 months of Dynamic's final issuance, Goodman published Marvel Comics No. 1. The title became the flagship of his comics imprint, Timely Comics, and was the first comic book credited to a company that is now, almost 80 years later, a powerhouse in the comic, television and motion picture industries.

Nathan Vernon Madison, Virginia Commonwealth University

Works Consulted

Ashley, Mike. The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000).

Daniels, Les. Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991).

Moskowitz, Sam. Explorers of the Infinite – Shapers of Science Fiction (Westport: Hyperion Press, 1974).

Tymn, Marshall B., and Mike Ashley, eds. Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985).

February 1939

April/ May 1939

A complete checklist of scanned cover images is available @ Galactic Central.