by Randy Fox
In 1937, he became editor of the sci-fi pulp magazine Amazing Stories. Palmer promoted a wild and crazy slam-bang style of futuristic fiction, establishing himself and the magazine as the polar opposites of John W. Campbell and his editorship of the more conservative and literary Astounding Science Fiction.
After World War II, Palmer pushed Amazing Stories in the direction of fusing science fiction with paranormal “fact,” a mixture that caused a furor in sci-fi fandom and led to many labeling him as “the man who killed science fiction.” He eventually left the pulp world behind and founded Fate and Mystic, two magazines that became rollicking crack-pot bibles for flying saucer enthusiasts, would-be ghost hunters and intrepid crypto-zoologists in midcentury America.
Ray Palmer didn’t invent science fiction fandom, pulp magazines, UFO mythology or American conspiracy culture. But he latched onto each of them with the tenacity of a bulldog and the instincts of a carnival barker. Ultimately, what makes his story so fascinating is the careful tightrope walk he was able to navigate between being a true believer and gleeful trickster. He was a larger-than-life character who was never afraid to tug at the curtain of respectability and dogma, and encouraged his readers to do the same. Palmer always expected to find a fake wizard manipulating the controls, primarily because he spent most of his life doing the same.