Raymond A. Palmer

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(August 1, 1910 – August 15, 1977)

Ray Palmer, from Wonder Stories (June 1930).

Ray Palmer, aka RAP, growing up in Milwaukee, discovered science fiction in Hugo Gernsback's Amazing in 1926 and read it voraciously. A childhood accident had caused him to be bedridden for much of his childhood and crippled him for life. He became a fan and is credited, along with Walter Dennis, with creating the Science Correspondence Club and editing what some consider the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. He published Forum and ran the short-lived Jules Verne Prize Club.

He wrote sf for the pulps and, when Ziff Davis acquired Amazing Stories in 1938 and sacked then-editor T. O'Connor Sloane, on the recommendation of writer Ralph Milne Farley, they offered the editorship to Palmer. He ran Amazing Stories from Chicago, 1938 through 1949. His outré schemes for increasing circulation of the venerable Gernsback prozine, dubbed Palmerism by fandom, included the Shaver Mystery as probably the most egregiously embarrassing example.

He was generous to fans, donating original art from the magazines to convention auctions and graciously spending time with young fans who dropped into his offices. However, he was appalled at Claude Degler’s star-begotten Cosmic Circle, and nearly severed relations with fandom because of it.

Rog Phillips, left, and Ray Palmer, Cinvention, 1949. Photo by Forry Ackerman.

When Ziff Davis moved to New York, he set up his own company to publish and edit Fate Magazine and similar occult drivel, as well as several books related to flying saucers, including "The Coming of the Saucers," co-written by Palmer with Kenneth Arnold. He published the more-or-less straight SF magazines Imagination and Other Worlds, too.

A biography of Palmer by Fred Nadis, The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey, was published in 2013.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:


From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
Palmerism Nobody would have thought that the publisher of the first fanzine -- a pillar of stfnic virtue, Converted to the True Way by buying the Gernsback Amazing off the newsstand in 1926 ‑‑ would have turned mortally ill Amazing into the harlot of Scientifiction with his editorial emphasis on sexed-up thud-and-blunder and tolerance for sloppy writing, but Raymond A. Palmer did just that, and snapped his fingers at the fans who screamed bloody murder. In 1938 Ziff Davis took over decrepit Amazing, in hopes of converting it as Wonder had been converted to Thrilling Wonder. RAP, called to do the dirty work, justified his BEMs, sexy wenches, and puerile humor on the ground that they sold -- "brought Amazing up to the peak of sales", he said. It was not a circulation-grabbing gimmick, but developed into the fixed policy of Amazing and sister mag Fantastic Adventures for the next ten years; this moron-pandering is the essence of Palmerism, but the word was formed more in resentment of RAP's giving space and friendly mention or even warm welcome to crackpottery like the Young Rosicrucians, the Shaver Mystery, and various mystical and occult forms of Cosmic Wisdom. The Shaver hoax was the last straw; Paul bacovers, ERB serials, Willy Ley articles, and some good stories like Weinbaum's "The New Adam" had been redeeming features, but that Palmer demanded Shaverism be accepted as truth was too much. Ackerman, who had been sniping at RAP for years, declared feud and others reacted as described under Shaver.

After leaving Amazing Palmer went overboard for occultism along the Shaver/Fort line in his own group of prozines, Fate, Other Worlds, and Imagination; all reached pretty revolting depths of puerility and credulism.

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