Friday, March 3, 2017

Free OSR Appendix 'S' Science Fantasy Download - Startling Stories v21n03 (1950 07) For Your Old School Campaigns

Appendix 'S' is what I refer to as my go to science fantasy index and at the top of it is 'Startling Stories'. Starling Stories was a mixed bag of a top drawer pulp. A bit of good girl sci fi artwork, weird top drawer stories, & pre War II science fiction all mixed into a heady mix of a pulp magazine. So once again I've had to turn down the social media chatter to get something written. I've always been a pulp fan of Starling Stories. They're covers were filled with lots of  lurid science fantasy goodness & features lots of good girl art. The artwork was so distinctive that it helped to create some of the iconic sci fi images burned into the pop culture collective consciousness.
There were reasons for this;"Much of Startling's cover art was painted by Earle K. Bergey, who became strongly associated with the magazine, painting almost every cover between 1940 and 1952. He was known for equipping his heroines with brass bras and implausible costumes, and the public image of science fiction in his day was partly created by his work for Startling and other magazines"
The typical cover of Starling Stories featured a heroine in a gravity defying costume more suited to a 50's bed room  catalog then a serious science fiction pulp. But don't let the costumes fool you Starling Stories had some of the best writers and top quality talent in science fiction during its run. And twelve year old me wasn't complaining anyway you slice it. I'm the product of the Monster Kid generation & the post WWII era grand parents. In my home town I was lucky enough to fall in with the Antiquarian book dealer/ war gamer crowd and my adopted uncle from the U.K. was right there to give me an education in Starling Stories.

"Startling Stories was an American pulp science fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1955 by publisher Ned Pines' Standard Magazines. It was initially edited by Mort Weisinger, who was also the editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories, Standard's other science fiction title. Startling ran a lead novel in every issue; the first was The Black Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum. When Standard Magazines acquired Thrilling Wonder in 1936, it also gained the rights to stories published in that magazine's predecessor, Wonder Stories, and selections from this early material were reprinted in Startling as "Hall of Fame" stories. Under Weisinger the magazine focused on younger readers and, when Weisinger was replaced by Oscar J. Friend in 1941, the magazine became even more juvenile in focus, with clich├ęd cover art and letters answered by a "Sergeant Saturn". Friend was replaced by Sam Merwin, Jr. in 1945, and Merwin was able to improve the quality of the fiction substantially, publishing Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night, and several other well-received stories."
The issue that we're going to be talking about today is Startling Stories v21n03 (1950 07) which is one that I've had the pleasure of reading in real life. For the old school dungeons master there's plenty to mine in this issue.

This issue has a bit of a mix for covering all of the old school bases for a science fantasy adventure or three especially a Gamma World style adventure spread as we'll see.

The Startling Stories v21n03 (1950 07) features a few classics:
Leigh Brackett's The Truants 
Edward Hamilton's City At The World's End novel
E.E. Doc Smith's Robot Menace novelette
Jack Vance's Spa of the Stars 
Purpose by Ray Bradbury 
Music of the Spheres by Walt Sheldon 
Invasions by Frank Belknap Long
Disappointment by William Morrison

This is is the sort of story spread that you were likely to see during the run of Starling Stories. A bit of everything but all of it pretty high test pulp quality.

So what does any of this have to do with Gamma World? Quite a bit actually, the issue that we're going to talk about has Edward Hamilton's City At The World's End which has all of the trappings of a great sand box campaign  setting. Imagine if you will a typical 1950's small town America hurled by an atomic bomb test blast into the far distant future under a bloated dying sun of the far far future. Now imagine that that you've got a mix of mutates that have been adapted to live among the stars. Now what about a sand box setting where you can place any number of post apocalyptic artifacts? Now set the whole thing with a humancentric empire of human jerks and now you've got an entire post apocalyptic/science fantasy campaign setting ready to go.
Need a quick adventure idea where the powers from the plane of fire invade your local campaign?
Leigh Brackett's The Truants  might be just what the mad scientist has ordered. There is a ton more inspirational material in this issue including Ernie Gygax's favorite a bit of Jack Vance.

You can download Startling Stories v21n03 (1950 07)Right Here

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