Friday, September 20, 2019

The Seven Seas

Pulp magazine time again.  This is the only issue of The Seven Seas, dated Winter 1953.  It's failure might well have been down to the fact that it was coming to the 'adventures on the high seas' genre relatively late in the game.  Whereas before the war the world was still full of mysterious and exciting places reachable only by sea, by 1953 large numbers of Americans (the target readership) had made enforced sea voyages to many of those places, even to remote islands in the Pacific, in pursuit of victory in World War Two.  Moreover, air travel was increasingly shrinking the world even more, offering a quicker, albeit less romantic, way of reaching the remotest parts of the globe. 

I must admit that I have a soft spot for sea stories, the pulpier the better.  Some of my favourite idle day dreams and fantasies involve sailing away on ships, to remote islands where a man can lose himself.  I'd happily have bought The Seven Seas, certainly it has, according to the cover, a fine line up of authors specialising in these sorts of stories.  Indeed, the featured novelette is by Garland Roark, 'author of "Wake of the Red Witch"', which, in its day, was a best selling sea faring yarn, turned into a hugely successful film with John Wayne.  The Seven Seas was published by Ziff-Davis, one of the biggest pulp publishing houses in the US, whose best remembered pulps nowadays are the venerable science fiction magazine Amazing Stories (the very first science fiction pulp, originally published by Hugo Gernsback) and its later companion Fantastic.  (Ziff-Davis still exist - these days are known as ZDE and specialise in technology magazines and websites).  The Seven Seas shared its editorial team with the company's other pulps, headed up by Howard Browne (who was also a noted mystery writer and screen writer) assisted by Paul Fairman (who later took over as editor of Amazing). 

Of course, by the time The Seven Seas appeared, pulp magazines in general were in decline, with many converting their format to digests or slicks.  Others simply fell by the wayside, swept away by the rise of more generalised men's magazines, most of which regularly featured sea stories amongst tehir mix of sensationalised adventure stories and supposedly true life tales.  In fact, at least one of the new men's magazines - South Sea Stories - specialised in a variation on the sea story format, focusing mainly on tropical islands and scantily clad native girls.  As it stands, though, The Seven Seas represents the last of its line: the seafaring pulp magazine.

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