Saturday, June 26, 2021

Leroy Yerxa: Golden Age Space Opera Tales

Leroy Yerxa: Golden Age Space Opera Tales

Leroy Yerxa (1915-1946) US author for the Pulp magazines, particularly the Ziff-Davis productions Amazing and Fantastic Adventures. He published under his own name and under some pseudonyms, the main one being Elroy Arno; others included Lee Francis which evolved into a House Name after his death (see also Frances Yerxa below as possible author under this name), Morris J Steele and (possibly) Henry Gade and Frank Patton. House Names included Richard Casey and Alexander Blade. He began to publish work of genre interest with “Death Rides at Night” in Amazing for August 1942 as Yerxa, and contributing prolifically to that magazine until his death; his only book-length story was “Double for Destiny” (December 1946 Amazing Stories).

Space Opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology.

The term has no relation to music, as in a traditional opera, but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera”, a melodramatic television series, and “horse opera”, which was coined during the 1930s to indicate a formulaic Western movie. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, television, and video games.

The Golden Age of Pulp Magazine Fiction derives from pulp magazines (often referred to as “the pulps”) as they were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called “glossies” or “slicks”.

The pulps gave rise to the term pulp fiction. Pulps were the successors to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many writers wrote for pulps, the magazines were proving grounds for those authors like Robert Heinlein, Louis L’Amour, “Max Brand”, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and many others. The best writers moved onto longer fiction required by paperback publishers. Many of these authors have never been out of print, even long after their passing

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