Frank Gruber

(1904 — 1969)

Early in his writing career Frank Gruber was somewhat critical of science fiction (or pseudoscience, as he then called it), and of some of the writers who wrote it. For example, he once described Edmond Hamilton (identified as “J. Hamilton Edwards” in his anecdote) as having “buck teeth as big as those of Clement Atlee's son-in-law.” Ironically, he and Hamilton both had stories in the November, 1941, issue of Weird Tales, the issue that featured the famous Hannes Bok cover of a skeleton writing at a desk; and both Gruber and Hamilton had their names displayed on the cover. Other writers with stories in this famous issue were Mindret Lord, Alonzo Deen Cole, Henry Kuttner, August Derleth, and Manly Wade Wellman.

Gruber knew many writers and editors and was good friends with several of them. Among his friends who wrote SF/fantasy were L. Ron Hubbard, Leo Margulies, Mort Weisinger, Cornell Woolrich, F. Orlin Tremaine, Norvell Page, Richard Sale, Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, Otis Adelbert Kline, and Arthur J. Burks.

Some of Gruber's genre stories were in the following publications:

Operator #5 - “The Coffin That Went to Sea” (October 1935 issue/as by Capt. John Vedders)

Weird Tales - “The Golden Chalice” (July 1940 issue); “The Book of the Dead” (November 1941); “The Gun” (July 1942); and “The Thirteenth Floor” (January 1949)

Avon Fantasy Reader - “The Gun” (reprinted in issue #7, 1948)

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - “The Thirteenth Floor” (reprinted in March 1955 issue); “Piece of Eight” (November 1955)

Boris Karloff's Favorite Horror Stories - “The Thirteenth Floor” (reprinted in the 1965 edition)

Detective Story Magazine #9 - “The Phantom Model T” (1990)

In 1967 Gruber wrote: “I have written western stories, mysteries, fantasy and science fiction. I have produced love stories and spicy stories. I have turned out reams of Sunday School stories. I have written virtually every type of writing that is published today and some that is no longer being published.” At the time he wrote this (at age 63), he had published roughly four hundred stories, fifty-four novels, sixty-five movie screenplays, about 100 TV scripts, and more than 150 articles. Included in his non-fiction books are a biography/bibliography of Horatio Alger, Jr. (1961) and The Pulp Jungle (1967), the book from which the above quote was taken and an excellent, informal history of the pulp era in America publishing.

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