December 7, 1941, the day that would live in infamy. The December 1941 issue would have hit the news stands on about November 19, 1941, 18 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Plenty of time for most fans to have swallowed the magazine whole, before casting it aside to follow the constant stream of news bulletins that followed the attack. Of course, in the issue there is no indication of the growing threat of war in the United States. I imagine that will change in the coming issues.
The December 1941 issue also closes out 1941 and our third Vacation year. (I will use the term “Vacation year” when referring to issue time as opposed to real present time. Put another way, I cover about 2 Vacation years in about 1 year’s time.) In his book A Requiem for Astounding, Alva Rogers writes,
1941 was the year that set the standards against which all the following years of the Golden Age were measured. Never again would Astounding run such a high concentration of classical or memorable stories in one twelve-month period.
And indeed, if you look back over the stories that appeared in this Vacation year, it really is quite remarkable. I list my 10 favorite stories from 1941 later on in this Episode and that list alone would probably make a pretty good anthology of Golden Age science fiction.
1941 closes out with, of course, the second part of E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “Second Stage Lensmen,” as well as stories by Vic Philips, and some names that at first blush, seem like newcomers: Colin Keith, Webster Craig, and Robert Arthur. And there are two good science articles, one by Willy Ley, the other by R. S. Richardson.
And changes are coming, but I’ll let Campbell explain that…