The roots of science fiction go back at least as far as Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, published in 1818. Many historians look back even farther.
Science fiction pulps (at least, those in English) date back to 1926, when Hugo Gernsback started the magazine Amazing Stories.
Most science fiction pulps were published monthly or quarterly. They published short stories and novellas, not full-length novels. And, they were printed on very cheap paper -- hence the name.
This resource guide covers our holdings of science fiction pulps from 1926 to 1957, including titles that started before 1957 and continued after.
Why 1957? That's the year the Soviet Union successfully launched the Sputnik satellite, and the Space Age became a reality!
The stories, the advertisements, and the cover illustrations for the pulps all offer material for analysis.
In any genre, certain stories and authors tend to be reprinted frequently in anthologies, while others are forgotten. Who is forgotten, and why?
The advertisements provide clues about what demographic the publishers and advertisers think is reading the magazine. Is it aimed at young readers, teens, adults? Male or female readers? What other interests or concerns are readers assumed to have?
The cover illustrations are almost a genre of their own, and would be seen by many more people than read the actual stories - for example, customers at the newsstand who looked at the magazine but bought something else. Questions you can explore through the illustrations:
In the library catalog, search the subject heading science fiction -- illustrations. This link will retrieve books in the Main Library (books that can be checked out) and in Special Collections (books that must be used in the Special Collections reading room.)
A few good starting places:
2000 A.D. : Illustrations from the Golden Age of Science Fiction Pulps. Jacques Sadoul; translated by Eileen B. Hennessy. Chicago: H. Regnery, 1975.
Fantastic Science Fiction Art, 1926-1954. Lester del Ray, ed. New York: Ballantine, 1975.
Frank R. Paul: The Dean of Science Fiction Illustration. Jerry Weist. San Diego: IDW Publishing, 2012.
One Hundred Years of Science Fiction Illustration, 1840-1940. Anthony Frewin. London, Bloomsbury: 1974.
Ruth Ann Jones
MSU Libraries, Special Collections
Dates represent our holdings at MSU. A magazine may have started before the earliest issue we've been able to acquire, or continued after the most recent issue we have, and we may not have every issue in between.
Use the purple GET IT button in the catalog record to request pulps to use in the Special Collections Reading Room.
There may be multiple entries for the same title, each covering a different date range. Usually, this means the magazine changed its publication schedule or its exact title.
Make sure to specify what dates you want to see -- for example, "All issues for the 1930s." If you want the entire run, ask for "All available issues." If you don't indicate what dates you want, we only retrieve the first "container" for that call number, which is usually a shelf box holding 4-6 issues.
Air Wonder Stories (1929-30)
Amazing Stories (1926-1958)
Astonishing Stories (1940-43)
Astounding Science Fiction, British edition (1948)
Captain Future (1940-44)
Cosmic Stories (1941-44)
Doc Savage (1933-46)
Dynamic Science Stories (1939)
Dynamic Science Fiction (1952-54)
Famous Fantastic Mysteries (1939-53)
Fantastic Adventures (1939-53)
Fantastic Universe (1953-60)
Fantasy Fiction (1950)
Fantasy Stories (1950)
Future Fiction; see also Science Fiction Stories
Galaxy Science Fiction (1950-58)
If: Worlds of Science Fiction (1952-60)
Imaginative Tales (1954-58)
Inside and Science Fiction Advertiser (1954-57)
Marvel Stories (1940-41)
Orbit Science Fiction (1953-54)
Other Worlds Science Stories (1949-57)
Out of This World Adventures (1950)
Planet Stories (1939-54)
Rocket Stories (1953)
Satellite Science Fiction (1956-59)
Science Fiction Adventures (1952-5?) Future Publications
Science Fiction Adventures (1956-57) Royal Publications
Science Fiction Digest (1954)
Science Fiction Quarterly (1941-43) Double Action Publications
Science Fiction Quarterly (1951-58) Columbia Publications
Science Fiction Stories; see also Future Fiction
Science Stories (1953-54)
Science Wonder Quarterly (1930)
Science Wonder Stories (1929-30)
Space Science Fiction (1952-53)
Space Stories (1952-53
Star Science Fiction Stories (1953-59)
Startling Stories (1939-55)
Super-Science Fiction (1956-59)
Super Science Stories (1940-51)
Thrilling Wonder Stories (1936-54)
Tops in Science Fiction (1953)
Universe Science Fiction (1953-55)
Venture Science Fiction (1957-70)
Vortex Science Fiction (1953)
Weird Tales (1941-89)
Wonder Stories (1930-36)
Wonder Stories (1957-63)
Wonder Story Annual (1950-53)
Worlds Beyond (1950-51)