The Day Science Fiction Stood Still

Harry Bates was the creative founder and an early editor for Astounding Science Fiction. He also edited Strange Tales and Weird Tales, and authored countless science fiction stories and essays of his own.

He once related that his view of science fiction was informed by a single, early copy of Amazing Stories! “What awful stuff I found in 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.” He also wrote that “science fiction of the early writers had little relation to science of the scientists.” What science fiction writers did was to “extrapolate” and not “relate” because “almost all of what is called science fiction is fantasy and nothing else but.”

Those of us who, decades later in the seventies, cut our teeth on Star Trek and second-hand anthologies forgotten by our parents, were heavily influenced by Bates, though we never knew it. But his influence did not stop here. He also wrote the story that inspired the 1951 classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still. A movie still unsurpassed in the power of its story, even by a forgettable, big budget “remake” starring Tom Cruise. Why? Because of Bates’s focus on story, science, and theme.

Here then, in it’s entirety, is Harry Bates’ gift to the future, his story, Farewell to the Master, linked from the Nostalgia League library:

Enjoy, and remember, “join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.”