Download Issues of “Weird Tales” (1923–1954): The Pioneering Pulp Horror Magazine Features Original Stories by Lovecraft, Bradbury & Many More

We live in an era of genre. Browse through TV shows of the last decade to see what I mean: Hor­ror, sci-fi, fan­ta­sy, super­heroes, futur­is­tic dystopias…. Take a casu­al glance at the bur­geon­ing glob­al film fran­chis­es or mer­chan­dis­ing empires. Where in ear­li­er decades, hor­ror and fan­ta­sy inhab­it­ed the teenage domain of B‑movies and com­ic books, they’ve now become dom­i­nant forms of pop­u­lar nar­ra­tive for adults. Telling the sto­ry of how this came about might involve the kind of lengthy soci­o­log­i­cal analy­sis on which peo­ple stake aca­d­e­m­ic careers. And find­ing a con­ve­nient begin­ning for that sto­ry wouldn’t be easy.

Do we start with The Cas­tle of Otran­to, the first Goth­ic nov­el, which opened the door for such books as Drac­u­la and Franken­stein? Or do we open with Edgar Allan Poe, whose macabre short sto­ries and poems cap­ti­vat­ed the public’s imag­i­na­tion and inspired a mil­lion imi­ta­tors? Maybe. But if we real­ly want to know when the most pop­ulist, mass-mar­ket hor­ror and fan­ta­sy began—the kind that inspired tele­vi­sion shows from the Twi­light Zone to the X‑Files to Super­nat­ur­al to The Walk­ing Dead—we need to start with H.P. Love­craft, and with the pulpy mag­a­zine that pub­lished his bizarre sto­ries, Weird Tales.


Debut­ing in 1923, Weird Tales, writes The Pulp Mag­a­zines Project, pro­vid­ed “a venue for fic­tion, poet­ry and non-fic­tion on top­ics rang­ing from ghost sto­ries to alien inva­sions to the occult.” The mag­a­zine intro­duced its read­ers to past mas­ters like Poe, Bram Stok­er, and H.G. Wells, and to the lat­est weird­ness from Love­craft and con­tem­po­raries like August Der­leth, Ash­ton Smith, Cather­ine L. Moore, Robert Bloch, and Robert E. Howard (cre­ator of Conan the Bar­bar­ian).

In the magazine’s first few decades, you wouldn’t have thought it very influ­en­tial. Founder Jacob Clark Hen­nen­berg­er strug­gled to turn a prof­it, and the mag­a­zine “nev­er had a large cir­cu­la­tion.” But no mag­a­zine is per­haps bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the explo­sion of pulp genre fic­tion that swept through the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry and even­tu­al­ly gave birth to the jug­ger­nauts of Mar­vel and DC.


Weird Tales is wide­ly accept­ed by cul­tur­al his­to­ri­ans as “the first pulp mag­a­zine to spe­cial­ize in super­nat­ur­al and occult fic­tion,” points out The Ency­clo­pe­dia of Sci­ence Fic­tion (though, as we not­ed before, an obscure Ger­man title, Der Orchideen­garten, tech­ni­cal­ly got there ear­li­er). And while the mag­a­zine may not have been wide­ly pop­u­lar, as the Vel­vet Under­ground was to the rapid spread of var­i­ous sub­gen­era of rock in the sev­en­ties, so was Weird Tales to hor­ror and fan­ta­sy fan­dom. Every­one who read it either start­ed their own mag­a­zine or fan­club, or began writ­ing their own “weird fic­tion”—Lovecraft’s term for the kind of super­nat­ur­al hor­ror he churned out for sev­er­al decades.

Fans of Love­craft can read and down­load scans of his sto­ries and let­ters to the edi­tor pub­lished in Weird Tales at the links below, brought to us by The Love­craft eZine (via SFFau­dio).

Let­ter to the edi­tor of Weird Tales, Sep­tem­ber 1923 – Sep­tem­ber 1923

Let­ter to the edi­tor of Weird Tales, Octo­ber 1923 – Octo­ber 1923

Let­ter to the edi­tor of Weird Tales, Jan­u­ary 1924 – Jan­u­ary 1924

Let­ter to the edi­tor of Weird Tales, March 1924 – March 1924

Impris­oned With The Pharaohs – May/June/July 1924

Hyp­nos – May/June/July 1924

The Tomb – Jan­u­ary 1926

The Ter­ri­ble Old Man – August 1926

Yule Hor­ror – Decem­ber 1926

The White Ship – March 1927

Let­ter to the edi­tor of Weird Tales, Feb­ru­ary 1928 – Feb­ru­ary 1928

The Dun­wich Hor­ror – April 1929

The Tree – August 1938

Fun­gi From Yug­goth Part XIII: The Port – Sep­tem­ber 1946

Fun­gi From Yug­goth Part X: The Pigeon-Fly­ers – Jan­u­ary 1947

Fun­gi From Yug­goth Part XXVI: The Famil­iars – Jan­u­ary 1947

The City – July 1950

Hallowe’en In A Sub­urb – Sep­tem­ber 1952

Fans of ear­ly pulp hor­ror and fantasy—–or grad stu­dents writ­ing their the­sis on the evo­lu­tion of genre fiction—can view and down­load dozens of issues of Weird Tales, from the 20s to the 50s, at the links below:

The Inter­net Archive has dig­i­tized copies from the 1920s and 1930s.

The Pulp Mag­a­zine Project hosts HTML, Flip­Book, and PDF ver­sions of Weird Tales issues from 1936 to 1939

This site has PDF scans of indi­vid­ual Weird Tales sto­ries from the 40s and 50s, includ­ing work by Love­craft, Ray Brad­bury, Dorothy Quick, Robert Bloch, and Theodor Stur­geon.

And to learn much more about the his­to­ry of the mag­a­zine, you may wish to beg, bor­row, or steal a copy of the pri­cy col­lec­tion of essays, The Unique Lega­cy of Weird Tales: The Evo­lu­tion of Mod­ern Fan­ta­sy and Hor­ror.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dis­cov­er the First Hor­ror & Fan­ta­sy Mag­a­zine, Der Orchideen­garten, and Its Bizarre Art­work (1919–1921)

Enter a Huge Archive of Amaz­ing Sto­ries, the World’s First Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine, Launched in 1926

Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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A Man Hiding from the Nazis Made 95 Issues of a Highly Creative Zine (1943–1945)

Copy­right by Char­i­ties Aid Foun­da­tion Amer­i­ca thanks to the gen­er­ous sup­port of the Bloch fam­i­ly; restora­tion and dig­i­ti­za­tion: Jew­ish Muse­um Berlin. This per­tains to all images on this page.

Per­haps at some point in the future,

the poems in your tongue I com­posed,

will be brought to your notice,

and if so, to delight will I then be dis­posed.

— Curt Bloch, Het Onder­wa­ter Cabaret

Zines typ­i­cal­ly tend toward the ephemer­al, owing to their small cir­cu­la­tions, errat­ic pub­li­ca­tion sched­ules, and the unpre­dictable lives of their cre­ators. 

Curt Bloch’s zine, Het Onder­wa­ter Cabaret (The Under­wa­ter Cabaret) defies these odds.

Bloch not only pro­duced an impres­sive 95 issues between August 1943 and April 1945, he did so as a Ger­man Jew hid­ing from the Nazis in the rafters of a pri­vate home in the Dutch city of Enschede, not far from the Ger­man bor­der.

His cut-and-paste illus­tra­tions are part of a long-stand­ing zine con­tin­u­um, made pos­si­ble in part by helpers who fur­nished him with pens, glue, news­pa­pers and oth­er col­lage-wor­thy mate­ri­als, in addi­tion to food and oth­er neces­si­ties. 

His print run was sub-minis­cule. Dupli­cat­ing his work was not an option, so Het Onder­wa­ter Cabaret cir­cu­lat­ed in its orig­i­nal form, passed from hand to hand at great risk.

The zine’s title is a play on onder­duiken (to dive under), which Dutch peo­ple under­stood as a ref­er­ence to the 10,000 Jews hid­ing from the Nazis in their coun­try.

Ger­ard Groen­eveld, author of The Under­wa­ter Cabaret: The Satir­i­cal Resis­tance of Curt Bloch, cred­its the “huge orga­ni­za­tion” who helped Bloch and oth­ers sequestered Jews with cir­cu­lat­ing the zine:

(It) includ­ed couri­ers, who brought food, but who could also bring the mag­a­zine out, to share with oth­er peo­ple in the group who could be trust­ed. The mag­a­zines are very small, you can eas­i­ly put one in your pock­et or hide it in a book. He got them all back. They must have also returned them in some way.

It’s noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle that all 95 install­ments sur­vive. Many zinesters fall short of pre­serv­ing their work, but Bloch could not ignore this pro­jec­t’s per­son­al and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

Aubrey Pomer­ance, co-cura­tor of the Jüdis­ches Muse­um Berlin’s upcom­ing exhib­it, “My Vers­es Are Like Dyna­mite, Curt Bloch’s Het Onder­wa­ter Cabaret”, notes that “the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of writ­ings that were cre­at­ed in hid­ing were destroyed.” 

For half a cen­tu­ry, these zines were known to a select few — fam­i­ly mem­bers, their orig­i­nal read­ers, and a hand­ful of guests whom Bloch enter­tained by read­ing pas­sages aloud after din­ner par­ties in the family’s New York home. 

Pomer­ance sus­pects that Bloch always intend­ed for his work to have a per­for­mance aspect, and that the cou­ple who shared his crawl­space quar­ters may well have been his first audi­ence for dit­ties like the one below.

Hye­nas and jack­als

Look on with jeal­ousy

For they now seem as choir­boys

Com­pared to human­i­ty.

Bloch’s daugh­ter, Simone, who describes her dad as a smar­tass, is work­ing on a web­site ded­i­cat­ed to his work. Read more about Bloch’s zine at The New York Times.

The images on this page thanks to the gen­er­ous sup­port of the Bloch fam­i­ly; restora­tion and dig­i­ti­za­tion comes thanks to the Jew­ish Muse­um Berlin.

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

A New Online Archive Lets You Read the Whole Earth Catalog and Other Whole Earth Publications, Taking You from 1970 to 2002

Today, if you want to get start­ed in home brew­ing, shop for a syn­the­siz­er, find out what cyber­net­ics is, order non-genet­i­cal­ly-mod­i­fied seeds, start your own mush­room farm, learn how to repair a Volk­swa­gen, sub­scribe to lib­er­tar­i­an pub­li­ca­tions, pur­chase the work of Mar­shall McLuhan, sign up for an out­door excur­sion, read an essay on zen Bud­dhism, com­pare home-birth setups, gath­er home­school­ing mate­ri­als, build a geo­des­ic dome, you go to one place first: the inter­net. Half a cen­tu­ry ago, when the per­son­al com­put­er had only just come into exis­tence, that would­n’t have been an option. But pro­vid­ed you were suf­fi­cient­ly tapped into the coun­ter­cul­ture, you could open up the nine­teen-sev­en­ties equiv­a­lent of the inter­net: The Whole Earth Cat­a­log.

Launched by Stew­art Brand in 1968, the Whole Earth Cat­a­log curat­ed and pre­sent­ed the prod­ucts and ser­vices of a wide vari­ety of busi­ness­es all between the cov­ers of one increas­ing­ly weighty print­ed vol­ume offer­ing what its slo­gan called “access to tools.”

While cer­tain of its sec­tions reflect­ed the most lit­er­al mean­ing of the term “tools” — you could’ve kept a pret­ty robust farm going with all the imple­ments on offer, and no doubt more than a few read­ers tried to do so — the larg­er enter­prise seemed to run on the goal of expand­ing the def­i­n­i­tion of what a tool could be, as well as the range of pos­si­bil­i­ties it could open to its user. Even sub­scribers who nev­er bought a prod­uct could receive an edu­ca­tion from the cat­a­log’s often eccen­tric but always infor­ma­tive descrip­tions of those prod­ucts.

“Behind the infor­ma­tion, the advice, the hints, and the facts, this book is about com­ing to see things as they are, through your own eyes, instead of the hired eyes of some expert or oth­er. It’s about train­ing your­self to trust your­self, and trust­ing your­self to train your­self, until you‘re able to claim your right as a human to be com­pe­tent with your hands.” These words come from writer and doc­u­men­tar­i­an Gur­ney Nor­man’s cap­sule review, in the spring 1970 Whole Earth Cat­a­log, of Joan Ran­son Short­ney’s book, How to Live on Noth­ing (described there­in as “our best-sell­ing book”). But Nor­man could just as well have been describ­ing the Whole Earth Cat­a­log itself, which was all about the abil­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als and small groups, equipped with not just tech­nol­o­gy new and old but also deep reserves of opti­mism and humor, to deter­mine their own des­tiny.

“The Whole Earth Cat­a­log offered a vision for a new social order,” writes the New York­er’s Anna Wiener, “one that eschewed insti­tu­tions in favor of indi­vid­ual empow­er­ment, achieved through the acqui­si­tion of skills and tools. The lat­ter cat­e­go­ry includ­ed agri­cul­tur­al equip­ment, weav­ing kits, mechan­i­cal devices, books like Kib­butz: Ven­ture in Utopia, and dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and relat­ed the­o­ret­i­cal texts, such as Nor­bert Wiener’s Cyber­net­ics and the Hewlett-Packard 9100A, a pro­gram­ma­ble cal­cu­la­tor.” Oth­er sec­tions might offer Grav­i­ty’s Rain­bow; an Apple II home com­put­er; some­thing called “self-ther­a­peu­tic rub­ber”; and even a hot tub. “Many a new­com­er to Cal­i­for­nia remem­bers for­ev­er the trau­ma of first being invit­ed — at a per­fect­ly ordi­nary par­ty — to strip and enter a steam­ing tub full of strangers,” writes Brand in the Next Whole Earth Cat­a­log of fall 1980, which may sound a bit late in the game for that sort of thing.

But then, the spir­it of the Whole Earth Cat­a­log, first ani­mat­ed by the free-enter­prise-and-free-love nine­teen-six­ties and sev­en­ties, has long out­last­ed its orig­i­nal cul­tur­al moment — and indeed the cat­a­log itself, which ceased pub­li­ca­tion in 1998. But now, thanks to Gray Area and the Inter­net Archive, you can read and down­load many issues of not just the Whole Earth Cat­a­log but also its suc­ces­sor pub­li­ca­tions, from CoEvo­lu­tion Quar­ter­ly to Whole Earth Mag­a­zine, in a new online col­lec­tion span­ning the years 1970 to 2002. To browse it is to enter a coun­ter­cul­tur­al time machine, expe­ri­enc­ing both the pre­pos­ter­ous­ness and the pre­science of the coun­ter­cul­ture as if for the first time. But then, for the vast major­i­ty of its vis­i­tors here in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry — who know that coun­ter­cul­ture only indi­rect­ly, through its wide but dif­fuse influ­ence on every­thing up to and includ­ing the inter­net — it will be the first time. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Watch Stew­art Brand’s 6‑Part Series How Build­ings Learn, With Music by Bri­an Eno

Earth­rise, Apol­lo 8’s Pho­to of Earth from Space, Turns 50: Down­load the Icon­ic Pho­to­graph from NASA

Bri­an Eno Cre­ates a List of 20 Books That Could Rebuild Civ­i­liza­tion

Down­load the Com­plete Archive of Oz, “the Most Con­tro­ver­sial Mag­a­zine of the 60s,” Fea­tur­ing R. Crumb, Ger­maine Greer & More

Buck­min­ster Fuller Tells the World “Every­thing He Knows” in a 42-Hour Lec­ture Series (1975)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Pulp Magazine Archive Lets You Read Thousands of Digitized Issues of Classic Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Detective Fiction

Pulp Fic­tion will like­ly hold up gen­er­a­tions from now, but the res­o­nance of its title may already be lost to his­to­ry. Pulp mag­a­zines, or “the pulps,” as they were called, once held spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for lovers of adven­ture sto­ries, detec­tive and sci­ence fic­tion, and hor­ror and fan­ta­sy. Acquir­ing the name from the cheap paper on which they were print­ed, pulp mag­a­zines might be said, in large part, to have shaped the pop cul­ture of our con­tem­po­rary world, pub­lish­ing respect­ed authors like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and many an unknown new­com­er, some of whom became house­hold names (in cer­tain hous­es), like Isaac Asi­mov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.

Begin­ning in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, the pulps opened up the pub­lish­ing space that became flood­ed with com­ic books and pop­u­lar nov­els like those of Stephen King and Michael Crich­ton in the lat­ter half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.

They var­ied wide­ly in qual­i­ty and sub­ject mat­ter but all share cer­tain pre­oc­cu­pa­tions. Sex­u­al taboos are explored in their naked essence or through var­i­ous genre devices. Mon­sters, aliens, and oth­er fea­tures of the “weird” pre­dom­i­nate, as do the fore­run­ners of DC and Marvel’s super­hero empires in char­ac­ters like the Shad­ow and the Phan­tom Detec­tive.

Unlike high­er-rent “slicks” or “glossies,” pulp mag­a­zines had license to go places respectable pub­li­ca­tions feared to tread. Genre fic­tion now spawns mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar fran­chis­es, one after anoth­er, purged of much of the pulps’ sala­cious con­tent. But pag­ing through the thou­sands of back issues avail­able at the Pulp Mag­a­zine Archive will give you a sense of just how out­ré such mag­a­zines once were—a qual­i­ty that sur­vived in the under­ground comics and zines of the 60s and beyond and in genre tabloids like Scream Queens.

The enor­mous archive con­tains thou­sands of dig­i­tized issues of such titles as If, True Detec­tive Mys­ter­ies, Witch­craft and Sor­cery, Weird Tales, Uncen­sored Detec­tive, Cap­tain Billy’s Whiz Bang, and Adven­ture (“Amer­i­ca’s most excit­ing fic­tion for men!”). It also fea­tures ear­ly celebri­ty rags like Movie Pic­to­r­i­al and Hush Hush, and ret­ro­spec­tives like Dirty Pic­tures, a 1990s com­ic reprint­ing the often quite misog­y­nist pulp art of the 30s.

There’s great sci­ence fic­tion, no small amount of creepy teen boy wish-ful­fill­ment, and lots of lurid, noir appeals to fan­tasies of sex and vio­lence. Swords and sor­cery, guns and trussed-up pin-ups, and plen­ty of crea­ture fea­tures. The pulps were once mass culture’s id, we might say, and they have now become its ego.

Enter the Pulp Mag­a­zine Archive here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Issues of “Weird Tales” (1923–1954): The Pio­neer­ing Pulp Hor­ror Mag­a­zine Fea­tures Orig­i­nal Sto­ries by Love­craft, Brad­bury & Many More

Enter a Huge Archive of Amaz­ing Sto­ries, the World’s First Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine, Launched in 1926

Clas­sic Radio­head Songs Re-Imag­ined as a Sci-Fi Book, Pulp Fic­tion Mag­a­zine & Oth­er Nos­tal­gic Arti­facts

Free: 355 Issues of Galaxy, the Ground­break­ing 1950s Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine

Isaac Asi­mov Recalls the Gold­en Age of Sci­ence Fic­tion (1937–1950)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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How The Beatles Reviewed Songs Topping the Charts During the 1960s: Hear Their Takes on the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, the Byrds, Joan Baez & More

In the year 1966, “it seemed to West­ern youth that The Bea­t­les knew — that they had the key to cur­rent events and were some­how orches­trat­ing them through their records.” So writes Ian McDon­ald in the crit­i­cal study Rev­o­lu­tion in the Head: The Bea­t­les’ Records and the Six­ties. But some had been look­ing to John Lennon, Paul McCart­ney, George Har­ri­son, and Ringo Starr as pop-cul­ture ora­cles since they put out their first album in 1963. Unlike the youth-ori­ent­ed stars who came before, they ful­ly inhab­it­ed the roles of both per­form­ers and cre­ators. If any­one knew how to read the zeit­geist of that decade, sure­ly it was the Bea­t­les.

Hence the appear­ance of each Bea­t­le in Melody Mak­er mag­a­zine’s “Blind Date” fea­ture, which cap­tured its sub­jects’ spon­ta­neous reac­tions to the sin­gles on the charts at the moment. When Lennon sat for a Blind Date in Jan­u­ary of 1964, he gave his ver­dict on songs from Man­fred Mann, Ger­ry and the Pace­mak­ers, Ray Charles, and Ricky Nel­son — as well as the now-less-well-known Mar­ty Wilde, Mil­li­cent Mar­tin, and The Bruis­ers.

You can see the arti­cle turned into a full audio­vi­su­al pro­duc­tion, com­plete with clips of the music, at the Youtube chan­nel Yes­ter­day’s Papers. There you can also com­pare its playlist to that of McCart­ney’s ses­sion just three years lat­er, but on a trans­formed musi­cal land­scape pop­u­lat­ed by the likes of The Small Faces, Dono­van, the Lovin’ Spoon­ful, and the Byrds.

For that last Cal­i­for­nia band McCart­ney express­es appre­ci­a­tion, if also reser­va­tions about what then seemed to him their styl­is­tic stag­na­tion: the late David Cros­by, he notes, “knows where they should be going musi­cal­ly.” Oth­er than call­ing the then-passé Gene Pit­ney’s “In the Cold Light of Day” a song he’s heard “hun­dreds of times before, although I haven’t actu­al­ly heard this record,” he keeps his assess­ment char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly pos­i­tive. More sur­pris­ing are Star­r’s harsh ver­dicts on the pop music of Decem­ber 1964, not just the songs them­selves (though the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” notably fails to impress him), but also the judg­ment of the audi­ences they tar­get. “Being good,” he says of the Day­lighters’ “Oh Mom,” “it won’t sell.”

Of San­dra Bar­ry’s “We Were Lovers (When The Par­ty Began),” Starr com­ments that it “sounds like an Eng­lish­man try­ing to be Amer­i­can, which nev­er works prop­er­ly.” Hav­ing grown up wor­ship­ing Amer­i­can rock-and-roll and start­ed their own careers anx­ious about being received as for­eign inter­lop­ers, the Fab Four show a nat­ur­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty to this transat­lantic dynam­ic in pop music. “It’s good if it’s Eng­lish, mediocre if it’s Amer­i­can,” says Har­ri­son of a song before find­ing out that the singer is his coun­try­man Glyn Geof­frey Ellis, bet­ter known as Wayne Fontana. “Those breaks are so British,” Lennon says of a Unit 4 + 2 sin­gle of Decem­ber 1965, and he does­n’t seem to mean it as a good thing. But when McCart­ney calls a Kiki Dee num­ber “British to the core” the fol­low­ing year, it’s hard not to hear a note of admi­ra­tion.

On Yes­ter­day’s Papers’ Blind Date playlist, you can see and hear more nine­teen-six­ties and sev­en­ties music reviews from Mick Jag­ger, Jim­my Page, Jimi Hen­drix, Dusty Spring­field, Frank Zap­pa, Bri­an Jones, Roger Dal­trey, Eric Clap­ton, Roger Waters, Syd Bar­rett, and many oth­er icons of twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry pop­u­lar music besides.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Kinks’ Ray Davies Reviews the Bea­t­les’ 1966 Album Revolver; Calls It “A Load of Rub­bish”

Chuck Berry (RIP) Reviews Punk Songs by The Ramones, Sex Pis­tols, The Clash, Talk­ing Heads & More (1980)

Hear the 10 Best Albums of the 1960s as Select­ed by Hunter S. Thomp­son

89 Essen­tial Songs from The Sum­mer of Love: A 50th Anniver­sary Playlist

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Entire Archives of Radical Philosophy Go Online: Read Essays by Michel Foucault, Alain Badiou, Judith Butler & More (1972–2022)

On a seem­ing­ly dai­ly basis, we see attacks against the intel­lec­tu­al cul­ture of the aca­d­e­m­ic human­i­ties, which, since the 1960s, have opened up spaces for left­ists to devel­op crit­i­cal the­o­ries of all kinds. Attacks from sup­pos­ed­ly lib­er­al pro­fes­sors and cen­trist op-ed colum­nists, from well-fund­ed con­ser­v­a­tive think tanks and white suprema­cists on col­lege cam­pus tours. All rail against the evils of fem­i­nism, post-mod­ernism, and some­thing called “neo-Marx­ism” with out­sized agi­ta­tion.

For stu­dents and pro­fes­sors, the onslaughts are exhaust­ing, and not only because they have very real, often dan­ger­ous, con­se­quences, but because they all attack the same straw men (or “straw peo­ple”) and refuse to engage with aca­d­e­m­ic thought on its own terms. Rarely, in the exas­per­at­ing pro­lif­er­a­tion of cranky, cher­ry-picked anti-acad­e­mia op-eds do we encounter peo­ple actu­al­ly read­ing and grap­pling with the ideas of their sup­posed ide­o­log­i­cal neme­ses.

Were non-aca­d­e­m­ic crit­ics to take aca­d­e­m­ic work seri­ous­ly, they might notice that debates over “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness,” “thought polic­ing,” “iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics,” etc. have been going on for thir­ty years now, and among left intel­lec­tu­als them­selves. Con­trary to what many seem to think, crit­i­cism of lib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy has not been banned in the acad­e­my. It is absolute­ly the case that the human­i­ties have become increas­ing­ly hos­tile to irre­spon­si­ble opin­ions that dehu­man­ize peo­ple, like emer­gency room doc­tors become hos­tile to drunk dri­ving. But it does not fol­low there­fore that one can­not dis­agree with the estab­lish­ment, as though the Uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem were still behold­en to the Vat­i­can.

Under­stand­ing this requires work many peo­ple are unwill­ing to do, either because they’re busy and dis­tract­ed or, per­haps more often, because they have oth­er, bad faith agen­das. Should one decide to sur­vey the philo­soph­i­cal debates on the left, how­ev­er, an excel­lent place to start would be Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy, which describes itself as a “UK-based jour­nal of social­ist and fem­i­nist phi­los­o­phy.” Found­ed in 1972, in response to “the wide­ly-felt dis­con­tent with the steril­i­ty of aca­d­e­m­ic phi­los­o­phy at the time,” the jour­nal was itself an act of protest against the cul­ture of acad­e­mia.

Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy has pub­lished essays and inter­views with near­ly all of the big names in aca­d­e­m­ic phi­los­o­phy on the left—from Marx­ists, to post-struc­tural­ists, to post-colo­nial­ists, to phe­nom­e­nol­o­gists, to crit­i­cal the­o­rists, to Laca­ni­ans, to queer the­o­rists, to rad­i­cal the­olo­gians, to the prag­ma­tist Richard Rorty, who made argu­ments for nation­al pride and made sev­er­al cri­tiques of crit­i­cal the­o­ry as an illib­er­al enter­prise. The full range of rad­i­cal crit­i­cal the­o­ry over the past 45 years appears here, as well as con­trar­i­an respons­es from philoso­phers on the left.

Rorty was hard­ly the only one in the journal’s pages to cri­tique cer­tain promi­nent trends. Soci­ol­o­gists Pierre Bour­dieu and Loic Wac­quant launched a 2001 protest against what they called “a strange Newspeak,” or “NewLib­er­al­S­peak” that includ­ed words like “glob­al­iza­tion,” “gov­er­nance,” “employ­a­bil­i­ty,” “under­class,” “com­mu­ni­tar­i­an­ism,” “mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” and “their so-called post­mod­ern cousins.” Bour­dieu and Wac­quant argued that this dis­course obscures “the terms ‘cap­i­tal­ism,’ ‘class,’ ‘exploita­tion,’ ‘dom­i­na­tion,’ and ‘inequal­i­ty,’” as part of a “neolib­er­al rev­o­lu­tion,” that intends to “remake the world by sweep­ing away the social and eco­nom­ic con­quests of a cen­tu­ry of social strug­gles.”

One can also find in the pages of Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy philoso­pher Alain Badiou’s 2005 cri­tique of “demo­c­ra­t­ic mate­ri­al­ism,” which he iden­ti­fies as a “post­mod­ernism” that “rec­og­nizes the objec­tive exis­tence of bod­ies alone. Who would ever speak today, oth­er than to con­form to a cer­tain rhetoric? Of the sep­a­ra­bil­i­ty of our immor­tal soul?” Badiou iden­ti­fies the ide­al of max­i­mum tol­er­ance as one that also, para­dox­i­cal­ly, “guides us, irre­sistibly” to war. But he refus­es to counter demo­c­ra­t­ic materialism’s max­im that “there are only bod­ies and lan­guages” with what he calls “its for­mal oppo­site… ‘aris­to­crat­ic ide­al­ism.’” Instead, he adds the sup­ple­men­tary phrase, “except that there are truths.”

Badiou’s polemic includes an oblique swipe at Stal­in­ism, a cri­tique Michel Fou­cault makes in more depth in a 1975 inter­view, in which he approv­ing­ly cites phe­nom­e­nol­o­gist Merleau-Ponty’s “argu­ment against the Com­mu­nism of the time… that it has destroyed the dialec­tic of indi­vid­ual and history—and hence the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a human­is­tic soci­ety and indi­vid­ual free­dom.” Fou­cault made a case for this “dialec­ti­cal rela­tion­ship” as that “in which the free and open human project con­sists.” In an inter­view two years lat­er, he talks of pris­ons as insti­tu­tions “no less per­fect than school or bar­racks or hos­pi­tal” for repress­ing and trans­form­ing indi­vid­u­als.

Foucault’s polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy inspired fem­i­nist and queer the­o­rist Judith But­ler, whose argu­ments inspired many of today’s gen­der the­o­rists, and who is deeply con­cerned with ques­tions of ethics, moral­i­ty, and social respon­si­bil­i­ty. Her Adorno Prize Lec­ture, pub­lished in a 2012 issue, took up Theodor Adorno’s chal­lenge of how it is pos­si­ble to live a good life in bad cir­cum­stances (under fas­cism, for example)—a clas­si­cal polit­i­cal ques­tion that she engages through the work of Orlan­do Pat­ter­son, Han­nah Arendt, Lud­wig Wittgen­stein, and Hegel. Her lec­ture ends with a dis­cus­sion of the eth­i­cal duty to active­ly resist and protest an intol­er­a­ble sta­tus quo.

You can now read for free all of these essays and hun­dreds more at the Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy archive, either on the site itself or in down­load­able PDFs. The jour­nal, run by an ‘Edi­to­r­i­al Col­lec­tive,” still appears three times a year. The most recent issue fea­tures an essay by Lars T. Lih on the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion through the lens of Thomas Hobbes, a detailed his­tor­i­cal account by Nathan Brown of the term “post­mod­ern,” and its inap­plic­a­bil­i­ty to the present moment, and an essay by Jami­la M.H. Mas­cat on the prob­lem of Hegelian abstrac­tion.

If noth­ing else, these essays and many oth­ers should upend facile notions of left­ist aca­d­e­m­ic phi­los­o­phy as dom­i­nat­ed by “post­mod­ern” denials of truth, moral­i­ty, free­dom, and Enlight­en­ment thought, as doc­tri­naire Stal­in­ism, or lit­tle more than thought polic­ing through dog­mat­ic polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. For every argu­ment in the pages of Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy that might con­firm cer­tain read­ers’ bias­es, there are dozens more that will chal­lenge their assump­tions, bear­ing out Foucault’s obser­va­tion that “phi­los­o­phy can­not be an end­less scruti­ny of its own propo­si­tions.”

Enter the Rad­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy archive here.

Note: This post was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on our site in March, 2018.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Intro­duc­ing Ergo, the New Open Phi­los­o­phy Jour­nal

His­to­ry of Mod­ern Phi­los­o­phy: A Free Online Course 

On the Pow­er of Teach­ing Phi­los­o­phy in Pris­ons

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Revisit Vintage Issues of Astounding Stories, the 1930s Magazine that Gave Rise to Science Fiction as We Know It

Hav­ing been putting out issues for 92 years now, Ana­log Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fact stands as the longest con­tin­u­ous­ly pub­lished mag­a­zine of its genre. It also lays claim to hav­ing devel­oped or at least pop­u­lar­ized that genre in the form we know it today. When it orig­i­nal­ly launched in Decem­ber of 1929, it did so under the much more whiz-bang title of Astound­ing Sto­ries of Super-Sci­ence. But only three years lat­er, after a change of own­er­ship and the instal­la­tion as edi­tor of F. Orlin Tremaine, did the mag­a­zine begin pub­lish­ing work by writ­ers remem­bered today as the defin­ing minds of sci­ence fic­tion.

Under Tremaine’s edi­tor­ship, Astound­ing Sto­ries pulled itself above its pulp-fic­tion ori­gins with sto­ries like Jack Williamson’s “Legion of Space” and John W. Camp­bel­l’s “Twi­light.” The lat­ter inspired the strik­ing illus­tra­tion above by artist Elliott Dold. “Dold’s work was deeply influ­enced by Art Deco, which lends its geo­met­ric forms to the city of machines in ‘Twi­light,’ ” writes the New York Times’ Alec Nevala-Lee, which “inau­gu­rat­ed the mod­ern era of sci­ence fic­tion.”

In the case of a gold­en-age sci­ence-fic­tion mag­a­zine like Astound­ing Sto­ries, Nevala-Lee argues“its most imme­di­ate impact came through its illus­tra­tions,” which “may turn out to be the genre’s most last­ing con­tri­bu­tion to our col­lec­tive vision of the future.”

None of the imagery print­ed inside Astound­ing Sto­ries was as strik­ing as its cov­ers, full-col­or pro­duc­tions on which “artists could let their imag­i­na­tions run wild.” Some­times they adhered close­ly to the visu­al descrip­tions in a sto­ry’s text — per­haps too close­ly, in the case the June 1936’s issue with H. P. Love­craft’s “The Shad­ow Out of Time” — and some­times they depart­ed from and even com­pet­ed with the mag­a­zine’s actu­al con­tent. But after Camp­bell took over as edi­tor in 1937, that con­tent became even stronger: fea­tured writ­ers includ­ed Robert Hein­lein, A. E. van Vogt, and Isaac Asi­mov.

Now, here in the once sci­ence-fic­tion­al-sound­ing twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, you can not only behold the cov­ers but read the pages of hun­dreds of issues of Astound­ing Sto­ries from the thir­ties, for­ties, and fifties online. The ear­li­est vol­umes are avail­able to down­load at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s web site, by way of Project Guten­berg, and there are even more of them free to read at the Inter­net Archive. Though it may not always have faith­ful­ly reflect­ed the mate­r­i­al with­in, Astound­ing Sto­ries’ cov­er imagery did rep­re­sent the pub­li­ca­tion as a whole. It could be thought-pro­vok­ing and haunt­ing, but it also deliv­ered no small amount of cheap thrills — and the gold­en age of sci­ence fic­tion still shows us how thin a line real­ly sep­a­rates the two.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Enter a Huge Archive of Amaz­ing Sto­ries, the World’s First Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine, Launched in 1926

Free: 355 Issues of Galaxy, the Ground­break­ing 1950s Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine

Down­load Issues of Weird Tales (1923–1954): The Pio­neer­ing Pulp Hor­ror Mag­a­zine Fea­tures Orig­i­nal Sto­ries by Love­craft, Brad­bury & Many More

Enter the Pulp Mag­a­zine Archive, Fea­tur­ing Over 11,000 Dig­i­tized Issues of Clas­sic Sci-Fi, Fan­ta­sy & Detec­tive Fic­tion

The Ency­clo­pe­dia of Sci­ence Fic­tion: 17,500 Entries on All Things Sci-Fi Are Now Free Online

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Nikola Tesla’s Predictions for the 21st Century: The Rise of Smart Phones & Wireless, The Demise of Coffee & More (1926/35)

The fate of the vision­ary is to be for­ev­er out­side of his or her time. Such was the life of Niko­la Tes­la, who dreamed the future while his oppor­tunis­tic rival Thomas Edi­son seized the moment. Even now the name Tes­la con­jures seem­ing­ly wild­ly imprac­ti­cal ven­tures, too advanced, too expen­sive, or far too ele­gant in design for mass pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion. No one bet­ter than David Bowie, the pop artist of pos­si­bil­i­ty, could embody Tes­la’s air of mag­is­te­r­i­al high seri­ous­ness on the screen. And few were bet­ter suit­ed than Tes­la him­self, per­haps, to extrap­o­late from his time to ours and see the tech­no­log­i­cal future clear­ly.

Of course, this image of Tes­la as a lone, hero­ic, and even some­what trag­ic fig­ure who fell vic­tim to Edis­on’s designs is a bit of a roman­tic exag­ger­a­tion. As even the edi­tor of a 1935 fea­ture inter­view piece in the now-defunct Lib­er­ty mag­a­zine wrote, Tes­la and Edi­son may have been rivals in the “bat­tle between alter­nat­ing and direct cur­rent…. Oth­er­wise the two men were mere­ly oppo­sites. Edi­son had a genius for prac­ti­cal inven­tions imme­di­ate­ly applic­a­ble. Tes­la, whose inven­tions were far ahead of the time, aroused antag­o­nisms which delayed the fruition of his ideas for years.” One can in some respects see why Tes­la “aroused antag­o­nisms.” He may have been a genius, but he was not a peo­ple per­son, and some of his views, though maybe char­ac­ter­is­tic of the times, are down­right unset­tling.


In the lengthy Lib­er­ty essay, “as told to George Sylvester Viereck” (a poet and Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er who also inter­viewed Hitler), Tes­la him­self makes the pro­nounce­ment, “It seems that I have always been ahead of my time.” He then goes on to enu­mer­ate some of the ways he has been proven right, and con­fi­dent­ly lists the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the future as he sees it. No one likes a know-it-all, but Tes­la refused to com­pro­mise or ingra­ti­ate him­self, though he suf­fered for it pro­fes­sion­al­ly. And he was, in many cas­es, right. Many of his 1935 pre­dic­tions in Lib­er­ty are still too far off to mea­sure, and some of them will seem out­landish, or crim­i­nal, to us today. But some still seem plau­si­ble, and a few advis­able if we are to make it anoth­er 100 years as a species. Tes­la’s pre­dic­tions include the fol­low­ing, which he intro­duces with the dis­claimer that “fore­cast­ing is per­ilous. No man can look very far into the future.”

  • “Bud­dhism and Chris­tian­i­ty… will be the reli­gion of the human race in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry.”
  • “The year 2100 will see eugen­ics uni­ver­sal­ly estab­lished.” Tes­la went on to com­ment, “no one who is not a desir­able par­ent should be per­mit­ted to pro­duce prog­e­ny. A cen­tu­ry from now it will no more occur to a nor­mal per­son to mate with a per­son eugeni­cal­ly unfit than to mar­ry a habit­u­al crim­i­nal.”
  • “Hygiene, phys­i­cal cul­ture will be rec­og­nized branch­es of edu­ca­tion and gov­ern­ment. The Sec­re­tary of Hygiene or Phys­i­cal Cul­ture will be far more impor­tant in the cab­i­net of the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States who holds office in the year 2025 than the Sec­re­tary of War.” Along with per­son­al hygiene, Tes­la includ­ed “pol­lu­tion” as a social ill in need of reg­u­la­tion.
  • “I am con­vinced that with­in a cen­tu­ry cof­fee, tea, and tobac­co will be no longer in vogue. Alco­hol, how­ev­er, will still be used. It is not a stim­u­lant but a ver­i­ta­ble elixir of life.”
  • “There will be enough wheat and wheat prod­ucts to feed the entire world, includ­ing the teem­ing mil­lions of Chi­na and India.” (Tes­la did not fore­see the anti-gluten mania of the 21st cen­tu­ry.)
  • “Long before the next cen­tu­ry dawns, sys­tem­at­ic refor­esta­tion and the sci­en­tif­ic man­age­ment of nat­ur­al resources will have made an end of all dev­as­tat­ing droughts, for­est fires, and floods. The uni­ver­sal uti­liza­tion of water pow­er and its long-dis­tance trans­mis­sion will sup­ply every house­hold with cheap pow­er.” Along with this opti­mistic pre­dic­tion, Tes­la fore­saw that “the strug­gle for exis­tence being less­ened, there should be devel­op­ment along ide­al rather than mate­r­i­al lines.”

Tes­la goes on to pre­dict the elim­i­na­tion of war, “by mak­ing every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself,” after which war chests would be divert­ed to fund­ing edu­ca­tion and research. He then describes—in rather fan­tas­ti­cal-sound­ing terms—an appa­ra­tus that “projects par­ti­cles” and trans­mits ener­gy, enabling not only a rev­o­lu­tion in defense tech­nol­o­gy, but “undreamed of results in tele­vi­sion.” Tes­la diag­noses his time as one in which “we suf­fer from the derange­ment of our civ­i­liza­tion because we have not yet com­plete­ly adjust­ed our­selves to the machine age.” The solu­tion, he asserts—along with most futur­ists, then and now—“does not lie in destroy­ing but in mas­ter­ing the machine.” As an exam­ple of such mas­tery, Tes­la describes the future of “automa­tons” tak­ing over human labor and the cre­ation of “a think­ing machine.”

Matt Novak at the Smith­son­ian has ana­lyzed many of Tes­la’s claims, inter­pret­ing his pre­dic­tions about “hygiene and phys­i­cal cul­ture” as a fore­shad­ow­ing of the EPA and dis­cussing Tes­la’s work in robot­ics (“Today,” Tes­la pro­claimed, “the robot is an accept­ed fact”). The Lib­er­ty arti­cle was not the first time Tes­la had made large-scale, pub­lic pre­dic­tions about the cen­tu­ry to come and beyond. In 1926, Tes­la gave an inter­view to Col­lier’s mag­a­zine in which he more or less accu­rate­ly fore­saw smart­phones and wire­less tele­pho­ny and com­put­ing:

When wire­less is per­fect­ly applied the whole earth will be con­vert­ed into a huge brain, which in fact it is…. We shall be able to com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er instant­ly, irre­spec­tive of dis­tance. Not only this, but through tele­vi­sion and tele­pho­ny we shall see and hear one anoth­er as per­fect­ly as though were face to face, despite inter­ven­ing dis­tances of thou­sands of miles; and the instru­ments through which we shall be able to do this will be amaz­ing­ly sim­ple com­pared with our present tele­phone. A man will be able to car­ry one in his vest pock­et. 

Tel­sa also made some odd pre­dic­tions about fuel-less pas­sen­ger fly­ing machines “free from any lim­i­ta­tions of the present air­planes and diri­gi­bles” and spout­ed more of the scary stuff about eugen­ics that had come to obsess him late in life. Addi­tion­al­ly, Tes­la saw chang­ing gen­der rela­tions as the pre­cur­sor of a com­ing matri­archy. This was not a devel­op­ment he char­ac­ter­ized in pos­i­tive terms. For Tes­la, fem­i­nism would “end in a new sex order, with the female as supe­ri­or.” (As Novak notes, Tes­la’s mis­giv­ings about fem­i­nism have made him a hero to the so-called “men’s rights” move­ment.) While he ful­ly grant­ed that women could and would match and sur­pass men in every field, he warned that “the acqui­si­tion of new fields of endeav­or by women, their grad­ual usurpa­tion of lead­er­ship, will dull and final­ly dis­si­pate fem­i­nine sen­si­bil­i­ties, will choke the mater­nal instinct, so that mar­riage and moth­er­hood may become abhor­rent and human civ­i­liza­tion draw clos­er and clos­er to the per­fect civ­i­liza­tion of the bee.”

It seems to me that a “bee civ­i­liza­tion” would appeal to a eugeni­cist, except, I sup­pose, Tes­la feared becom­ing a drone. Although he saw the devel­op­ment as inevitable, he still sounds to me like any num­ber of cur­rent politi­cians who argue that soci­ety should con­tin­ue to sup­press and dis­crim­i­nate against women for their own good and the good of “civ­i­liza­tion.” Tes­la may be an out­sider hero for geek cul­ture every­where, but his social atti­tudes give me the creeps. While I’ve per­son­al­ly always liked the vision of a world in which robots do most the work and we spend most of our mon­ey on edu­ca­tion, when it comes to the elim­i­na­tion of war, I’m less san­guine about par­ti­cle rays and more sym­pa­thet­ic to the words of Ivor Cut­ler.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2015.

via Smith­son­ian/Pale­o­fu­ture

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In 1953, a Tele­phone-Com­pa­ny Exec­u­tive Pre­dicts the Rise of Mod­ern Smart­phones and Video Calls

Jules Verne Accu­rate­ly Pre­dicts What the 20th Cen­tu­ry Will Look Like in His Lost Nov­el, Paris in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (1863)

In 1922, a Nov­el­ist Pre­dicts What the World Will Look Like in 2022: Wire­less Tele­phones, 8‑Hour Flights to Europe & More

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

Philip K. Dick Makes Off-the-Wall Pre­dic­tions for the Future: Mars Colonies, Alien Virus­es & More (1981)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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