Harry Bates

Harry Bates (1900 – 1981) was an American science fiction editor and writer. His most famous short story, “Farewell to the Master” (Astounding, Oct. 1940), was the basis of the well-known 1951 science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Bates began working for William Clayton in the 1920s as the editor of adventure pulp magazines. When Clayton proposed a period adventure magazine, Bates suggested several alternatives that he said would be easier to edit, and Astounding Science Fiction was the result. Bates, who was not a fan of science fiction, edited the magazine from 1930 until 1933, when the magazine was sold to Street and Smith. During that time, he edited other magazines for Clayton, including Strange Tales, intended to compete with Weird Tales.

Bates believed the science fiction stories of the time were poorly written: “Amazing Stories! Once I had bought a copy. What awful stuff I’d found it! Cluttered with trivia! Packed with puerilities. Written by unimaginables! But now at the memory I wondered if there might be a market for a well-written magazine on the Amazing themes.”

In 1964, Bates recalled his editorship of Astounding: “Long ago I was a party to the genesis of a magazine which persisted through thirty years and thirty millions of words … Astounding was a living being. I served it in its infancy and childhood, Orlin Tremaine brought it through youth and adolescence, John Campbell guided it through adulthood and maturity.”

Using the pseudonyms Anthony Gilmore and H.G. Winter, Bates and his assistant editor Desmond Winter Hall collaborated on the “Hawk Carse” series and other stories. In 1952, the Hawk Carse stories were collected in Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventurers. Bates recalled the creation of the Hawk Carse science fiction series in Requiem for Astounding (1964): “From the beginning I had been bothered by the seeming inability of my writers to mix convincing character with our not-too-convincing science; so after nearly two years, with the double hope of furnishing the writers an example of a vivid hero and villain and my readers a whopping hero versus villain, I generated the first Hawk Carse story.”

Two novellas by Bates appeared in Gernsback’s Science-Fiction Plus, edited by Sam Moskowitz, “The Triggered Dimension” and “The Death of a Sensitive” (1953). The latter was ranked by Moskowitz as the best story he ever published in the magazine.

Harry Bates died in September, 1981, at the age of 80.

(Edited from Bates’ entry at Wikipedia. Click the link for the full article.)

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