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From the Pulps to the Stars: The Making of the American Science Fiction Magazine, 1923-1973

 

 

 

David Reinecke
Working Paper #44, Fall 2011


Abstract: Making a theoretical case linking genre trajectory with artistic legitimation struggles, this paper seeks to explain the development of the American science fiction magazine. Across the fifty-plus years analyzed, science fiction emerged from its lowbrow pulp fiction origins into a highly successful, critically acclaimed genre across multiple mediums. This empirical trend is then modeled using predictors adopted from theories of cultural legitmation, which conceptualize the process as both movement induced and historically shaped. Employing standard time-series regression techniques, the results suggest a sequential story underlying the trajectory of American science fiction magazines: popular science initially created a legitimate discursive space for the nascent genre, while growing cohesive networks among science fiction authors sustained the cultural form in the post-war period. The paper, then, contributes significantly to the growing study of the dynamics of classificatory schemes.

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