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“Raymond Palmer” redirects here. For the University of Texas professor, see Raymond F. Palmer.
Raymond Arthur Palmer (August 1, 1910 – August 15, 1977) was the influential editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949, when he left publisher Ziff-Davis to publish and edit Fate Magazine, and eventually many other magazines and books through his own publishing houses, including Amherst Press and Palmer Publications. In addition to magazines such as Mystic, Search, and ‘Flying Saucers,” he published numerous spirtualist books, including Oahspe: A New Bible, as well as several books related to flying saucers, including “The Coming of the Saucers,” co-written by Palmer with Kenneth Arnold. Palmer was also a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy stories, many of which were published under pseudonyms.
According to Bruce Lanier Wright, “Palmer was hit by a truck at age seven and suffered a broken back.” An unsuccessful operation on Palmer’s spine stunted his growth (he stood about four feet tall), and left him with a hunchback.
Palmer found refuge in science fiction, which he read voraciously. He rose through the ranks of science fiction fandom and is credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930.
When Ziff-Davis acquired Amazing Stories in 1938, editor T. O’Conor Sloane resigned and production was moved to Chicago. On the recommendation of popular author Ralph Milne Farley, the editorship was offered to Palmer. In 1939, Palmer began a companion magazine to Amazing Stories titled Fantastic Adventures, which lasted until 1953.
When Ziff-Davis moved its magazine production from Chicago to New York City in 1949, Palmer resigned and, with Curtis Fuller, another Ziff-Davis editor who did not want to leave the midwest, founded Clark Publishing Co.
Science fiction magazines
As an editor, Palmer tended to favor adventurous, fast-moving space opera-type stories. His tenure at Amazing Stories was notable for his purchase of Isaac Asimov‘s first professional story, “Marooned Off Vesta“.
Palmer was also known for his support of the long running and controversial Shaver Mystery stories, a series of stories by Richard S. Shaver. Palmer’s support of the truth of Shaver’s stories (which maintained that the world is dominated by insane inhabitants of the hollow earth), was controversial in the science fiction community. It is unclear whether Palmer believed the Shaver stories to be true, or if he was just using the stories to sell magazines.
Palmer began his own science fiction publishing ventures while working for Ziff-Davis, eventually leaving the company to form his own publishing house, Clark Publishing Company, which was responsible for the titles Imagination and Other Worlds, among others. None of these magazines achieved the success of Amazing Stories during the Palmer years, but Palmer published Space World magazine until his death.
In 1948, Palmer and Curtis Fuller co-founded Fate, which covered divination methods, Fortean events, belief in the survival of personality after death, predictive dreams, accounts of ghosts, mental telepathy, archaeology, flying saucer sightings, cryptozoology, alternative medicine, warnings of death, and other paranormal topics, many contributed by readers.
Curtis Fuller and his wife Mary took full control of Fate in 1955, when Palmer sold his interest in the venture. The magazine has continued in publication under a series of editors and publishers to the present day.
Another paranormal magazine Palmer created along the line of Fate was Mystic magazine, which after about two years of publication became Search magazine.
In the 1970s, Palmer also published Ray Palmer’s News Letter which was combined into another of his publications called Forum in March 1975.
In the first issue of Fate, Palmer published Kenneth Arnold‘s report of “flying discs.” Arnold’s sighting marked the beginning of the modern UFO era, and his story propelled the fledgling Fate to national recognition. Through Fate, Palmer was instrumental in popularizing belief in flying saucers. This interest led him to establish the magazine Flying Saucers.
Palmer’s avid interest in spirituality and alternative explanations of reality was reflected in his choice of publications. His interest in the Oahspe Bible, led him on a 15-year search for a copy of the original 1882 edition published by Oahspe Publishing Assoc., New York and London. Although a later edited and revised edition was published in 1891 and reprinted over the years, the original 1882 Oahspe Bible was not available until Palmer republished a facsimile of it in 1960. It is often referred to as “The Palmer Edition” or “The Green Oahspe” among Oahspe readers. He continued to publish and reprint later editions to which he added an index and editor’s notes. Oahspe was reported by the spiritualist medium John B. Newbrough to have come as automatic writing through his hands on the newly invented typewriter.
A newer edition of Oahspe as a tribute edition to Ray Palmer was published in 2009 titled: Oahspe – Raymond A. Palmer Tribute Edition.
- Contemporary Authors, Volume 111, Gale 1984. According to this work, Palmer died following a series of strokes.
- Moskowitz, Sam; Joe Sanders (1994). “The Origins of Science Fiction Fandom: A Reconstruction”. Science Fiction Fandom. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 17–36.
- Harry Warner, Jr. All Our Yesterdays, pgs 75-78.
- files of astronomer Donald Menzel
- The Positively True Story of Kenneth Arnold – Part Four at Saturday Night Uforia
- Raymond A. Palmer at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Shavertron magazine about Ray Palmer involvement in the Shaver Mystery
- Fear Down Below: The Curious History of the Shaver Mystery, by Bruce Lanier Wright
- Fate magazine official site
- I Flew In A Flying Saucer A PDF scan of an ‘Other Worlds’ Sci Fi magazine story from 1951
- The Cosmos Project – Bringing to life the Cosmos sci-fi serial novel from 1933