Winston Science Fiction

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Winston Science Fiction was a series of 37 American juvenile science fiction books published by the John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1960 and by its successor Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1960 and 1961. It included 35 novels by various writers, including many who became famous in the SF field, such as Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, and Lester del Rey. There was also one anthology, The Year After Tomorrow, edited by del Rey and others. There was one non-fiction book Rockets Through Space: The Story of Man's Preparations to Explore the Universe by del Rey which details the factual science and technology of rocket flight. Many of the dust jackets became science fiction classics; the artists included Hugo Award winners Ed Emshwiller and Virgil Finlay along with Hugo nominees such as Mel Hunter and Alex Schomburg.


Juvenile science fiction hard covers had been published for some time prior to the beginning of the Winston series, most notably the Tom Swift series published from 1910 to 1941. However, as the Tom Swift series declined, and the economic pressures of World War II escalated, juvenile offerings became slim.[1]

The Winston Publishing Company had a history of publishing material for youth since the early part of the 20th century, such as the Young People's Library of Entertainment and Amusement and The Forward Series for Boys and Girls.[2] After the publication of Robert A. Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo in 1947 revived the juvenile science fiction market, The Winston Publishing Company decided to develop a juvenile science fiction series that would be set apart from the pulp fiction of its time. Known and respected SF authors were hired, and each novel was to include a factual foreword explaining the science and technology referenced in the novel.[3] The publisher's announcement of the series in Publishers Weekly clearly outlines the goals of the series:

Five compelling tales designed TO SELL to the expanding science fiction market! Only writers who have won the respect of the science fiction audience have been signed to write these accurate yet absorbing books. Each contains an explanation of new terms and a discussion of its scientific aspects. ... For all ages.[4]


The series began in 1952 with the publication of the first 5 books: Earthbound by Milton Lesser, Find the Feathered Serpent by Evan Hunter, Marooned on Mars by Lester del Rey, Son of the Stars by Raymond Jones, and Five Against Venus by Philip Latham. Later in the year a second group of five novels were added to the series: Sons of the Ocean Deeps by Bryce Walton, Mists of Dawn by Chad Oliver, Rocket Jockey by Phillip St. John, Islands in the Sky by Arthur Clarke, and Vault of the Ages by Poul Anderson. Each book was an original written especially for the Winston series, and marketed for the juvenile audience.[5]

Literary significance and reception[edit]

Differing from static characters like Tom Swift and the Lucky Starr series the Winston heroes show dynamic growth and character development throughout their novels and series.[6] This fact has contributed to the lasting influence of the series on its readers, creating accessible role models for young readers.[citation needed]


Winston Science Fiction Endpaper by Alex Schomburg.

The first edition dust jacket illustrations by famous science fiction artists have made the Winston set highly collectible. Contributors include Hugo winning artists like Alex Schomburg (who also created the endpapers used in every book of the series) and Virgil Finlay, as well Hugo nominees like Mel Hunter, and Ed Emshwiller. There is even a cover ("The Ant Men") by Paul Blaisdell, best known for his imaginatively extreme monsters in low-budget science fiction movies of the 1950s, such as "It Conquered the World"

Winston cover art features colorful images of spaceflight, exploration (of Earth, Space, and Time) and other fantastical subject matter describing important scenes from each book. The art is similar in style to pulp fiction art of the time, but like the novels themselves, the art tends towards a believable and accurate portrayal of the subject matter. Artists like Mel Hunter had extensive training in scientific and technical illustration, and a broad knowledge of space technologies. This gives the covers a more serious feel than some other art of the time, and compliments the educational attitude the authors took in writing their factual forewords describing the science and technology that appears in the books.


The series was not numbered. This chronological list identifies the artists who usually illustrated the dustjackets only ("cover"), occasionally illustrated the novels too ("cover and interior illus.").


  1. ^ Sands, Karen and Frank, Marietta (1999). Back in the Spaceship Again: Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945, Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30192-1 pp 1-2
  2. ^ The John C. Winston Company.(1905, December 16). The New York Times
  3. ^ Sands, Karen and Frank, Marietta (1999). Back in the Spaceship Again: Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945, Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30192-1, pp 3-4
  4. ^ Publishers Weekly, 26 Jan. 1952, p. 412.
  5. ^ Extrapolation, Spring 1984, Vol. 25, No. 1, p. 34.
  6. ^ Sands, Karen and Frank, Marietta (1999). Back in the Spaceship Again: Juvenile Science Fiction Series Since 1945, Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30192-1, p 6

External links[edit]