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Strange Stories


A short-lived fantasy- and horror-fiction companion to Thrilling Wonder Stories and the rest of the Thrilling Group, it featured many of the same contributors as the other Better Publications magazines and Weird Tales. Despite publishing some interesting fiction, such as Manly Wade Wellman's "The Changeling" in the first issue, it is not well-remembered today.

Background

Strange StoriesStrange Stories
Publisher: Better Publications
Publication range: February 1939-February 1941
1939 was a banner year for fantasy pulps; Street and Smith's Unknown, the sf/fantasy Munsey reprint magazine Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and Ziff-Davis's (initially mostly science-fictional) Fantastic Adventures all joined Weird Tales on the newsstands, as did a new magazine from the Thrilling Publications group (which would also add the sf title Startling Stories the same year), the modestly titled Strange Stories.

Edited anonymously by Mort Weisinger, SS featured a mix of fiction rather similar to that of Weird Tales, with a slightly less gothic sensibility than Weird and lacking the heroic fantasy component stressed in the other magazines. In the first issue, February 1939, along with a long editorial column attributed to Mephistopheles, there were stories by such WT and Thrilling Group veterans as Robert Bloch (two stories, one as by "Tarleton Fiske"), Henry Kuttner (two stories, one as by "Keith Hammond," which playfully drew not only on Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos motifs but specifically on Bloch's own contributions to that Mythos, notably the "forbidden" book The Mysteries of the Worm), Otis Adelbert Kline, Ralph Milne Farley and August Derleth and Mark Schorer.

Wellman's "The Changeling" is perhaps the best-remembered story from that first issue, and one of the few from the magazine's run of thirteen bimonthly issues to be cited by historian Mike Ashley as rising above the general run of competence.

Seabury Quinn, Eric Frank Russell, Leigh Brackett and E. Hoffmann Price were among the other notable contributors to the magazine; Ashley has noted that Weisinger's moving on from the Thrilling pulp line to edit Superman comics was coincident with, and probably resulted in, the folding of SS with the February 1941 issue.

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