Clearly not resting on his laurels, author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle, has released more episodes of his excellent 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts, further delving further into the marvels of post-World War Two SF in Britain.
Episode 6 – “E.C Tubb makes his debut” – reveals how the author was tricked into submitting his first novels to a mushroom publisher! Other early British SF authors are mentioned too, including George Hay.
Over a creative career that spanned some five decades, Edwin Charles Tubb wrote over 140 novels utilising some 58 pen names, spanning science fiction, fantasy and westerns, and some 230 short stories and novellas, He’s perhaps best known for The Dumarest Saga, an epic science-fiction saga set in the far future, but many downthetubes readers may simply know him for his work such as his Space:1999 novels.
Episode 7, “The Remarkable Transformation of Denis Hughes“, sees Philip cover a crisis for publisher Curtis Warren in 1952, as it struggled to find strong writers for its SF range, first turning, with mixed success, to their western authors, including John Jennison. But this videocast really focuses on the work of Denis Hughes, who, under various pen names, was given longer to write his fantasy-logo branded titles for Curtis Warren, receiving much praise for his work. Philip notes his work was unique on the British book stands, and was further boosted by the eye-catching covers of Gordon C. Davies, a prolific book cover artist from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Episode 8, “Authentic Science Fiction“, covers titles released Hamilton and Co., some written by Blackpool-based John Russell Fearn (aka Vargo Statten) until he signed an exclusive contract with Scion. Keen to continue their SF line, Hamilton sought out new authors, and Philip details the hunt, and some of the content in the monthly magazine Authentic Science Fiction.
Episode 9 widens the scope of Philip’s excellent VideoCasts, as “American Science Fiction Invades the UK“, noting how well-respected publisher, Withy Grove, entered the science fiction market place, a company that had only published two SF novels before World War Two under its Cherry Tree imprint, the disaster tale Deluge by S. Fowler Wright, first published in 1927, and its sequel, Dawn. When it was taken over by Kemsley Press, a division of Kemsley Newspapers in the 1940s, its SF output surged, with books that featured covers by artists such as Ron Embleton and Ron Turner. The episode covers Thrilling Wonder Stories magazine and much more.
Philip is a life-long science fiction fan, regarded as a world authority on the works of John Russell Fearn, whose credits encompass writing “Garth” for the Daily Mirror, and the “Golden Amazon” for Spaceship Away (adapting Fearn’s stories). He’s also very kindly contributed a number of synopses of early “Garth” stories to downthetubes, which we are adding as time permits.
Back in the 1950s, he adapted some of the Radio Luxembourg Dan Dare radio shows into comics at a young age – the only record of some of these tales known to exist, since very few recordings survive.
• Philip Harbottle wrote an article about the best work of Denis Hughes for Paperback Parade #92, published in 2016 by Gryphon Books. Unfortunately, this issue isn’t listed on the site, but you could try contacting the publisher direct about obtaining a copy
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