Whispering Gorillas and Vampires of Venus, more 1950s British Science Fiction uncovered

Author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle has released a new episode of his fascinating 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts, exploring the history of post-World War Two SF in Britain.

In Episode 10 of this wonderful series, Phill chats about new publisher World Distributors – who, initially, make a decent stab at establishing a new science fiction line – and then ruin it with rubbish!

Find out more about the British editions of “The Whispering Gorilla” by David V. Reed, first published in 1940, which Phil himself later reprinted with a new cover by Ron Turner.

1950s British Science Fiction Episode 10 - Whispering Gorilla

Founded in 1945, World Distributors, also known as Pembertons (because it was owned and operated by brothers Alfred, John, and Sydney Pemberton), was a British publisher and distributor of magazines and comic books, originally based in Manchester. The company, which was sold to Egmont in 1999, is perhaps best known for repackaging American comics and publishing various annuals, including Doctor Who, based on licensed properties. The company, for a time in the 1950s, the sole distributor of American comics in the UK.

Phil reveals some interesting Star Wars links with these 1950s SF titles in this episode, and how could you not want to find out about books with titles like When the Earth Died and Vampires of Venus by Karl Mannheim – even though they are, possibly, the work of someone totally unacquainted with writings science fiction whose true identity remains a mystery to this day?

1950s British Science Fiction Episode 10 - Vampires of Venus

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.

• Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here

• Check out books written or edited by Philip Harbottle on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Buy an edition of The Whispering Gorilla & Return of the Whispering Gorilla published by Armchair Fiction and Music in 2014 (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)


• John Russell Fearn’s SF, including Golden Amazon stories, back in print

• Dan Dare Fan Fiction – from the 1950s! | Revealed – The Dan Dare Radio Luxembourg Comic Strips by Philip Harbottle

• Garth: Character Profile and Story Synopses

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