Friday, March 6, 2015

Amelia Reynolds Long (1904-1978)

Aka A.R. Long, Peter Reynolds, Patrick Laing, Adrian Reynolds, Kathleen Buddington Coxe (with Edna McHugh), Mordred Weir
Author, Poet, Editor, Museum Curator
Born November 25, 1904, Columbia, Pennsylvania
Died March 26, 1978, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Amelia Reynolds Long had a long and very fine career as an author of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and detective stories. She was one of few female science fiction authors before the Golden Age and very likely one of few in that category to be published in both Weird Tales and Astounding Science-Fiction. Her stories for "The Unique Magazine" were six in number. One was made into a movie. Many of her stories have been reprinted again and again.

Amelia Reynolds Long was born on November 25, 1904, in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and moved at age six with her family to Harrisburg. She graduated from Harrisburg Central High School in 1922. By the time she had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1931, Amelia was already a published author with stories in Weird Tales and Amazing Detective Tales to her credit. (She received her bachelor's degree in 1931 and a master's degree the following year.) Stories for Amazing Stories, Astounding Stories, Strange Stories, and other publications rolled out of her typewriter during the 1930s, but by the end of the decade, Amelia was ready for a change. Late in life, she explained:
I stopped writing science fiction and the weird story right around that time, because science fiction had hit the comic strips and I felt it was sort of degrading to compete with a comic strip. (1, 2)
Her first mystery novel, Behind the Evidence, was published in 1936. In all, Amelia Reynolds Long wrote nearly three dozen novels in that genre, twenty-five of which were translated into other languages. Her short stories numbered about one hundred. "The Thought Monster," from Weird Tales (1930), was made into a movie called Fiend Without a Face in 1958.

Amelia also wrote poetry and had two collections, Shreds and Patches (1974) and Counterpoint (1975), published in her lifetime. Her first poem, "Lucifer's Reply," had appeared in Kaleidograph in the early 1930s. From 1951 to 1958, Amelia was an editor of textbooks at The Stackpole Company in her hometown. Outdoor Reference Guide, from 1959, carries her byline on the cover. She was also a member of the Harrisburg Poetry Workshop of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, and a curator at the William Penn Museum.

Amelia Reynolds Long died on March 26, 1978, in Harrisburg. She was seventy-three years old.

Stories, Article, & Letters of Amelia Reynolds Long
(Stories and one letter in the weird fiction magazines are in bold.)
"The Twin Soul" (Weird Tales, Mar. 1928)
"The Mechanical Man" (Stellar Science Fiction Series #7, 1930)
"The Thought-Monster" (Weird Tales, Mar. 1930) 
"The Magic-Maker" (Weird Tales, June 1930)
"The Mystery of the Phantom Shot" (Amazing Detective Tales, July 1930)
"The Undead" (Weird Tales, Aug. 1931)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Weird Tales, Nov. 1931)
"Omega" (Amazing Stories, July 1932)
"Scandal in the 4th Dimension" (Astounding Stories, Feb. 1934)
"Masters of Matter" (Marvel Tales of Science and Fantasy, Mar.-Apr. 1935)
"Flapping Wings of Death" (Weird Tales, June 1935)
"A Leak in the Fountain of Youth" (Astounding Stories, Aug. 1936)
"The Album" (Weird Tales, Dec. 1936)
"Cosmic Fever" (Astounding Stories, Feb. 1937)
"Reverse Phylogeny" (Astounding Stories, June 1937)
"The Mind Master" (Astounding Stories, Dec. 1937)
"The Dimension Drug" (serial, Spaceways #1-2, 1939)
"Death by Fire" (Science Fiction, Mar. 1939)
"Time-Traveling" (letter, Startling Stories, Mar. 1939) 
"The Box from the Stars" (Strange Stories, Apr. 1939)
"Bride of the Antarctic" (as Mordred Weir, Strange Stories, June 1939)
"When the Half Gods Go--" (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1939)
"Justice in Time" (Stardust, May 1940)
"Castaways in Space" (Science Fiction, June 1940)
"Machines That Think" (article, Spaceways, Dec, 1940)
"The Man Who Vanished" (The Phantom Detective, Summer 1950)
"The Man They Couldn’t Kill" (The Phantom Detective, Fall 1950)
"Spirit Voice" (5 Detective Novels Magazine, Fall 1950)
"Hot Money!" (G-Men Detective, Winter 1951)
"Handmade Alibi" (The Phantom Detective, Spring 1951)
"Reverse Alibi" (Smashing Detective Stories, June 1951)
"Dames Ain’t Neat" (Famous Detective Stories, Aug 1951)
"The Mountain Comes to Mohammed" (Smashing Detective Stories, Sept. 1951)
"Fatal Footsteps" (Famous Detective Stories, Nov. 1951)
"Death Looks Down" (Triple Detective, Winter 1951)
"Case of the Frightened Child" (as Patrick Laing, Famous Detective Stories, Feb. 1952)
"Breathe Deep of Death" (as Patrick Laing, Smashing Detective Stories, Sept. 1952)

Further Reading
There are several sources of information on Amelia Reynolds Long on the Internet. The most comprehensive is called "A Tribute to Amelia Reynolds Long" at this URL:

The author, Richard Simms, has included a long list of links and has posted numerous images, including images of Amelia's rarest books.

You can also read about her in Etchings & Odysseys #10, from 1987.

(1) Quoted in "Etchings & Odysseys Profile: A Visit with Amelia Reynolds Long" by Chet Williamson in Etchings & Odysseys #10 (1987), p. 61.
(2) I'm not sure what comic strips Amelia Reynolds Long was talking about. The big three--Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D. (1929), Brick Bradford (1933), and Flash Gordon (1934)--were between six and ten years old when the 1930s ended. Perhaps she was talking about science fiction comic books rather than comic strips. In any case, her remarks are sound proof that even science fiction authors--who were themselves very often on the receiving end of cultural snobbery--could also be horrible snobs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Science fiction is a genre. Comics are a form. You cannot compare one to the other. More to the point: There is an old quote from Duke Ellington: "If it sounds good, it is good." That judgement can be applied to all things. If a science fiction story is good, it's good. It doesn't matter what form it takes. I have read science fiction comic book stories that are much better than certain science fiction prose stories. Just because a science fiction story takes the form of a comic strip or comic book doesn't mean that it's some low form of expression. We should all remember that of all the vaunted writers of Golden Age science fiction, none foresaw that ordinary people would watch the first moon landing on their television sets. V.T. Hamlin, author of the comic strip Alley Oop, did however, and drew such a sequence in 1947. At that time and for many years after, science fiction writers were busy with the Shaver Mystery, flying saucers, Dianetics, and other nonsense.

A poster for Fiend Without a Face (1958), based on a story by Amelia Reynolds Long.

This is first in a series of three articles in observance of International Women's Day, which takes place this weekend, on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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