Authentic Science Fiction magazine in the spotlight in 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts

Author and editor Philip Harbottle released two more fantastic episodes of his videocast series, 1950s British Science Fiction over the summer, but while juggling various work projects, we neglected to give them a shout out here on downthetubes!

Episode 41 focuses on one of the most successful 1950s space annuals, The Authentic Book of Space, which featured a foreword by SF author Arthur C. Clarke and offered a great mix of features and juvenile fiction by creators such as Leslie Crouch and others, and a comic strip adaptation of a story by Jon D. Deegan, drawn by an uncredited John Mortimore (who was no Frank Hampson). Clarke, EC Tubb and Ken Bulmer provided the non-fiction features. John Richards also provided illustrations.

One feature of special interest is “From Earth to the Stars“, an expanded version of an article in Authentic magazine, probably written by editor and scientist HJ Campbell, featuring beautiful full colour plates of art previously used as magazine covers.

If you’re intrigued by the book, be warned editions aren’t cheap, as they are very rare – AmazonUK has one listed for over £200 at present!

Phil also begins to detail the history of Authentic magazine in this episode, and Episode 42, titled E.C. Tubb’s Authentic Science Fiction, continues this history of Authentic Science Fiction magazine, noting the impressive line up of authors that contributed to it, including Isaac Asimov and AE van Vogt. He also debunks a number of myths about the publication and gives us an insight into one of the magazine’s best-known stories, “Dead Weight“, written under a pseudonym by EC Tubb, illustrated by Josh Kirby.

Both episodes are an absolutely fantastic foray into 1950s SF, many of the the items in Phil’s collection incredibly hard to come by and rarely seen. Do check them out.

Philip Harbottle 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.

John Russell Fearn’s Across the Ages, adapted into comics by Philip Harbottle

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.

• Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here

• Books edited or published by Phil Harbottle on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• Buy Across the Ages by John Russell Fearn, adapted into comics by Philip Harbottle here from Lulu

A vintage comic strip by Philip Harbottle, adapting John Russell Fearn’s much admired SF novel Across the Ages, has finally been published – some sixty years after the now renowned author and publisher drew it (Read our news item about this here)

Details of The Authentic Book of Space on

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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