One of the better biographies I’ve read in recent years, it’s actually the first biography I’ve ever read about someone I actually knew and met, albeit just in passing.
The Man from Mars details the life and publishing career of early science fiction writer, editor and fan Raymond Palmer. He was a somewhat divisive figure in early science fiction, which really took itself far too seriously for the pulp magazine roots that spawned it. Palmer was an editor for a popular pulp, Amazing Stories, as well as having written (and edited) for the legendary Hugo Gernsback (known as the Father of Science Fiction). He was there almost at the beginning, but is relegated to a much-diminished position in history because of fandom’s ire. After being a major proponent of the legendary Shaver Mystery, as well as being (rightly) called “the Man who Created Flying Saucers”, there was quite a bit of ostracism leveled toward Palmer. He delved into many new age, occult and “Psi-Fi” topics over the years, all of which were usually derided by the majority of SF fans, who apparently preferred way too much “science” with their “fiction”.
This biography is excellent in that it takes no sides, and strives to give a very balanced view of a very interesting individual. It’s quite sad that little of his original fiction is readily available today – you have to search hard to find any of his fiction on the internet – considering the man had his own little publishing empire in Amherst, Wisconsin.
One of the major disappointments of my life was not to realize who that little hunchbacked man was, and believing the rumors about him being an angry old nut. I’ve always been a science fiction aficionado, and into UFology since I was a wee lad. How was I to know that that one of the guys responsible for two things I love doing was in my very backyard?