Review: The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey

The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey
The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey by Fred Nadis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ray Palmer overcame severe injury and a lack of formal education to be a shaping force in the history of science fiction publishing.

Author Nadis takes us from the origin of pulp magazines focused on crime, romance, and sex, through the rise of scientifically minded readers who didn’t mind some sex and adventure, but also wanted exploration of real scientific possibilities. It starts out fun, but takes a dive.

I had hoped that this book would be so exciting! A huge chunk in the middle, and again at the end, gets utterly mired in a monotonous blow-by-blow of the Shaver mystery, involving an underground civilization of aliens who control our fortunes and believe in weird sex torture. It is important to Palmer’s story, as Shaver became one of his most used story writers for his magazines and also a very close friend. It s not especially interesting reading beyond the first few pages.

I side with the readers who felt that Palmer was taking science fiction in the wrong direction. I don’t enjoy the ravings of mystics and madmen, I never got enthused about ‘racial memory,’ ‘alien astronauts,’ or abduction stories. I lived through the 80s and did not succumb to New Age floof. I love my science fiction laced with plausible science and a titch of exploration into the nature of human society.

I got to page 175 but I can’t finish this book.

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