Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Old Crompton's Secret" and "The Copper-Clad World" by Harl Vincent

Harold Vincent Schoepflin (born in New York City on 19 October 1893, died in Los Angeles on 5 May 1968) was a mechanical engineer employed by Westinghouse. Under the pen name Harl Vincent, he began publishing science fiction stories in Hugo Gernsback's original science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1928. Over the course of the next fourteen years, he published over seventy stories in the science fiction pulp magazines, as well as the mainstream weekly pulp magazine Argosy. His output dwindled in the early 1940s, and his writing hobby remained in abeyance until the publication of his novel The Doomsday Planet in 1966, two years before his death at the age of 74.

After Astounding Science Fiction editor John W. Campbell, Jr. revolutionized science fiction in the 1940s, there was a tendency to look back at the Gernsback Era as unworthy of notice. As a result, when science fiction emerged from its pulp magazine cradle and began to appear in book form, the stories of the 1930s tended to be neglected (except in a few cases such as Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, E. E. Smith, and Murray Leinster, who continued to produce well-regarded work during and after the Campbell Era). As a result, few of Vincent's stories have appeared anywhere other than the original pulp magazines.

Until now.

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, stories (like Vincent's) that have entered the public domain can now be found online. On 26 July 2007, Vincent's story "Creatures of Vibration" from the January 1932 issue of Astounding Stories was uploaded to Project Gutenberg. The Johnny Pez blog has reprinted three more stories: "Terrors Unseen" from the March 1931 Astounding, "High-Frequency War" from the February 1940 Astounding, and "Microcosmic Buccaneers" from the November 1929 Amazing.

Now, two more Harl Vincent stories can be found online. First, the complete February 1930 issue of Astounding, including Vincent's "Old Crompton's Secret", was uploaded to Project Gutenberg on 26 April 2009. An audio version of the story read by Maureen O'Brien is also available from Maria Lectrix. Second, "The Copper-Clad World" from the September 1931 issue of Astounding was uploaded to Project Gutenberg on 19 May 2009.

Slowly but surely, the work of this unjustly neglected pioneer of science fiction is seeing the light of day for the first time in decades. As more of Vincent's work becomes available online, the Johnny Pez blog keep you updated.

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