Boucher’s interest in science fiction and fantasy did not dwindle, though.  He wrote a poem for Weird Tales, reviewed science fiction and fantasy for the Chicago Sun-Times and Los Angeles Daily News.  During his time in Los Angeles, in the late 1930s, he became acquainted with the Mañana Literary Society, which was a club of science fictioneers (as they often called themselves), including Robert Heinlein, Cleve Cartmill, Ed Hamilton, Henry Kuttner, Jack Williamson, and others.  Boucher wrote about the Society in his mystery Rocket to the Morgue (which was published under a different pseudonym: H. H. Holmes; that was not a reference to Sherlock, at least not explicitly, but the borrowed pseudonym of murderer, Herman Mudgett—who, incidentally, was the subject of the recent The  Devil in the White City.)

Rocket to the Morgue is interesting in a number of ways.  It gave some clues to Boucher’s interest in Forteana—indeed, it is a very Fortean book.  It also gave a glimpse of the science fictioneers at work during the late 1930s.  (It was published in 1942 and set in 1941.)  It is self-referential: one of the characters is Anthony Boucher, another member of the Society, and his wife.  The book also recasts the Sherlock Homes mythos into the world of weird fiction and science fiction tales.  It is set in a world where science fiction was given a huge lift by author Fowler Foulkes, who created the character Dr. Derringer.  Derringer did for science fiction what Holmes did for mysteries—made them possible, was the epitome of the genre, was so believable that he almost seemed to be alive and, indeed, seemed to come to life in the course of the mystery.  At the time the story took place, Fowler Foulkes had died and his literary empire was being run by his son, Hilary.  Writing about the all the ways that Hilary frustrated those who hoped to adapt Derringer to different media or to continue his exploits in new stories gave Boucher a chance to comment on the manager of the Holmes character, Adrian Conan Doyle, son of Sir Arthur, who also jealously protected his father’s legacy and often confounded the plans of fans who wanted to use Sherlock Holmes in new ways.

Boucher’s most famous intervention into the world of weird tales, though, was as co-editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Originally conceived as only a fantasy magazine, FSF, as the cognoscenti knew it, became the successor to John W. Campbell’s Astounding—even as that magazine continued publishing.  It can be arguably said to be the standard-bearer of science fiction magazines during the 1950s, and certainly so of the fantasy—or weird—tale, with Weird Tales itself ceasing publication in the middle 1950s, after years of decline.  The magazine published a couple of Bay Area Forteans, Garen Drussai and Miriam Alan de Ford (who published an article on Fort).  Toward the end of his life, Clark Ashton Smith had George Haas facilitate correspondence with Boucher; Smith was having trouble finding new markets for his work, and hoped Boucher could help.  (Apparently, he couldn’t.)  Other Fortean inflected stories also appeared here.

Boucher edited The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction until 1958.  He stayed active in the field—and in mystery—up to his death from lung cancer on 29 April 1968.

 


Comments

Bob Toomey
05/27/2010 21:13

A couple of points. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is known to us cognoscenti as F&SF, not FSF. I have never heard it referred to as FSF. Nobody would know what you're talking about.

As for the rest of that sentence: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction "became the successor to John W. Campbell’s Astounding—even as that magazine continued publishing. It can be arguably said to be the standard-bearer of science fiction magazines during the 1950s..." I would say that H. L. Gold's Galaxy Magazine was the true standard-bearer of fifties SF, and probably even more important in the field than Astounding. Gold published most of the major SF of the period: Bester's 'The Demolished Man' and 'The Stars My Destination,' Asimov's 'The Caves of Steel,' Pohl & Kornbluth's 'The Space Merchants,' Bradbury's 'The Fireman' which became 'Fahrenheit 451,' and the major short stories of Sheckley, Tenn, Knight, Leiber, Simak, and on and on. Gold established social satire as a major component of SF and demanded strong literary qualities from his contributors.

Which is not to say that F&SF wasn't an important magazine. It was, although mainly as a vehicle for fantasy, most often in the vein of Campbell's Unknown rather than Weird Tales.

So a bit of a disagreement there. But I do enjoy your articles.

Reply
joshua buhs
05/27/2010 22:04

Thanks, Bob.

Of course you're right about the F&SF. I've tried to correct that in later entries.

I also value your input on the relative merits of F&SF v. Galaxy. One of the reasons I like putting up these blogposts is to get feedback--this is an experiment for me. Usually such notes are for myself as I prepare a book. I thought it'd be interesting to see what responses I received if I made them public. And notes like yours are exactly what I am looking for.

What you say makes perfect sense, and I realize I have only a vague justification for what I wrote there: mostly that F&SF gets lots of pub., even now, compared to Galaxy, which, except for the cognoscenti, is unknown.

I'll have to think harder about the connection between F&SF, Astounding (and Unknown), Galaxy, and Weird Tales.

Again, thanks!

Reply
06/13/2011 10:56

Dear T. O. Boucher

I am writing my thesis for teaching about the PBC system. However, I can not find the book Period Batch Control of John L. Burbidge, Oxford Series on Advanced Manufacturing, Clarendon Press (1996). As I read an article by the Review can you help me in buying this book?

grateful for the attention

Reply



Leave a Reply