Friday, December 14, 2018

J. Schlossel (1902-1977)

Joseph H. Schlossel
Author, Tailor, Metal Plater, Dog Breeder
Born December 21, 1902, New York or Canada
Died December 1 or 4?, 1977, Schodack Landing?, New York

J. Schlossel was Joseph H. Schlossel, a Jewish writer who was born either in New York or Canada, lived in Canada for several years, and wrote just six published stories. Despite his small output, Schlossel has earned a place in the history of science fiction by being the first author known to have written about a trip to the moon monitored on Earth by way of television. His imagination and stories were expansive; he often assumed a cosmic viewpoint, treating whole star systems and vast swaths of time. He wrote an early science fiction story, "Invaders from Outside," for Weird Tales, a magazine otherwise known for fantasy and weird fiction. In fact, all but one of J. Schlossel's stories were published from 1925 to 1928, before the term science fiction even showed up in print. His last published work, "Extra-Galactic Invaders," the title of which echoed that of his first, appeared in print after he had ceased writing for pulp magazines. Sources on the Internet suggest that Schlossel stopped writing because of the coming of the Great Depression. I don't known the source of that claim.

Joseph H. Schlossel was born on December 21, 1902, in New York or Canada to Mr. and Mrs. Hyman Schlossel. Hyman Schlossel was a tailor. His son followed him in that trade. The first and one of the only records I have found on him shows that he crossed from Canada into the United States by way of Niagara Falls in early November 1921. He gave his previous address as Hamilton, Ontario, and his father's address as Buffalo, New York.

As a young man in his twenties, J. Schlossel wrote science fiction and fantasy stories, a half dozen of which were published in Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. The first appeared in January 1925, the last in the spring of 1931. Schlossel's six published stories: 
  • "Invaders from Outside" in Weird Tales, January 1925; reprinted August 1938
  • "Hurled into the Infinite" (two-part serial) in Weird Tales, June-July 1925
  • "A Message From Space" in Weird Tales, March 1926
  • "The Second Swarm" in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Spring 1928; reprinted in Science Fiction Classics, Summer 1968
  • "To The Moon by Proxy" in Amazing Stories, October 1928
  • "Extra-Galactic Invaders" in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Spring 1931
After the last, he fell silent as a published author. I would like to think that there are unpublished manuscripts by J. Schlossel still out there in the world.

Joseph Schlossel is supposed to have worked in the metal-plating business. He was also a dog breeder. Disaster and tragedy struck in March 1969 when thirty-seven of his French poodles were killed in a house fire in Schodack Landing, New York. At the time, Schlossel lived across the street from the 100-year-old house in which he had kept his dogs.

Schlossel married Ora Alpha Jarvis (1913-1990) of Charleston, West Virginia. She had earned a B.S. degree from the University of Buffalo in 1937 and an M.S. degree from Columbia University in about 1939-1940. She worked for the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) in Ocala, Florida, in the 1950s and as a civil servant, eventually as a senior accountant, for the State of New York. The couple had a daughter whom I believe is still working as a teacher and psychologist.

Joseph Schlossel died on December 1 or 4, 1977, presumably in Schodack Landing, New York, where he had lived for many years. He was seventy-four years old.

J. Schlossel's Stories in Weird Tales
See the list above.

Further Reading
See the entries on Schlossel in:

J. Schlossel hit the jackpot when his first published story, "Invaders from Outside," landed on the cover of Weird Tales in January 1925. It was an early science fiction story for the magazine, preceding Nictzin Dyalhis' "When the Green Star Waned" by three months. The image of the space alien with large, slanted eyes and pointed ears was prescient. I wonder whether this was the first such image to appear on the cover of a pulp magazine in America. Whether so or not, credit the artist, Andrew Brosnatch. 

Text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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