El Coyote Gordo (supergee) wrote,
El Coyote Gordo

Loser Books

45 years ago, Harlequin Books decided that they could adapt their romance formula to sf, or as they put it, “Harlequin Books, the leading producer of romances for women, now presents a series for men,” which will give you an idea of how well they understood their audience. The books were all 192 pages long, male protagonist, happy ending, with Frank Kelly Freas covers as formulaic as the books. They hired a fundamentalist named Roger Elwood to edit the series, and he imposed his approach: No Bad Words, and if two characters committed the infamous sins of Sodom, they both had to die, but if there was mere fornication, only the woman was doomed.

The series tanked, and eventually Elwood announced that he was giving up sf because it was not Christ-centered. This seemed to indicate a certain slowness in picking up the local culture, but it was revealed that before he was in sf, he edited pro wrestling magazines and quit after several years when he figured out that the results of the matches were predetermined.

The sf field responded. Two proud families with long histories in sf, the del Reys and the Wollheims, said, “Don’t let this outsider, this religious fanatic, turn our beloved culture into a mass of repetitious, formulaic product. Let us do it.” And so it was. Pulp Librarian remembers.

Thanx to File 770
Tags: reading

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