Raymond A. Palmer
Raymond A. Palmer circa 1930
|Born||Raymond Arthur Palmer|
August 1, 1910
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died|| (aged 67)|
Portage, Wisconsin, U.S.
Raymond Arthur Palmer (August 1, 1910 – August 15, 1977) was an American 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 or republished 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.
Throughout the 1930s, Palmer would have many of his stories published in several science fiction magazines of the era. 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.
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 Sharpe 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 asked other writers to do stories in the Shaver genre, the most notable being Rog Phillips.
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 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.
In 2013, Tarcher/Penguin published a biography of Palmer called The Man From Mars and written by Fred Nadis.
Palmer is also the subject of Richard Toronto's 2013 book, War over Lemuria: Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer and the Strangest Chapter of 1940s Science Fiction, which attempts to give a detailed history of the Shaver Mystery and its two main proponents.