Friday, April 11, 2014


Excerpted from Stuart J. Byrne's Saved by an Angel & Other Strange, True and Untold Tales
from the Life of a Maverick Science Fiction Writer (FuturesPast Editions). In the following selection, the golden age pulp author for Amazing Stories and Other Worlds tells how he came to be a translator for the first Perry Rhodan U. S. Series published by Ace Books and edited by Forrest J Ackerman. Then he describes the financial dispute that brought that series to an end and the inspiration that resulted in the birth of his 13 volume Star Man saga [available from FuturesPast Editionsas Perry Rhodan's replacement. (At the end of this post learn where you can get an ebook of the first two Star Man novels Free!)

   After my NATO trips for Litton I remained in Operations ... this led to a job opportunity at Scientific Data Systems in El Segundo...  Unfortunately, business slowed down for the Data Systems Division, and in 1969 I was caught in the layoff.
   Taxes, mortgage payments and the price of bread were still the immutables of life to be faced.  ...But when I combed the field for tech writing jobs I ran into the oldie about being "over qualified."

     ...In two days I received a call from Forrie Ackerman's wife, Wendayne.  She wanted to
know if I'd like to try some German translation.  She and Forrie were agents for Ace Pocketbooks, who were publishing English translations of the famous German science-fiction series, Perry Rhodan.  Owing to popular demand in America, she and her brother could not keep up with the number of 30,000-word novelettes to be translated, and they needed help.  I started translating two per month at $400 each.  This was exactly the $800 per month I had sought to manifest.

   [Five years later] Ace Pocketbooks and the Germans fell out of agreement concerning money exchange control, and the Perry Rhodan translations came to an abrupt end.  This sent 4000 mail-order readers into an uproar, so I proposed to Forrie and Wendy that we might be able to satisfy such a clientele with a science-fiction series of our own – based on an old novel of mine, Power Metal (Other Worlds, 1953).  
   Out of this came my Star Man series, which some of the fans said were better than Rhodan.  Forrie and Wendy published them through their own company, Master Publications.  So the magic still seemed to be holding, until Forrie and Wendy could not keep up with the publishing costs.   
   So far I had produced 13 Star Man novelettes.  Whether or not that old devil's number 13 tried to kill the magic, the cold fact remained that I was once more out of work.  Or had the magic really been defeated?  One day Forrie, who was my agent, called me up and said I was rich.  Dell Books had just sent him an advance royalty check of $15,000 for the first five Star Man stories.

(In another post at this blog Stuart J. Byrne tells what happened next in "How Dell Books Paid Me $15,000 for the Star Man Edition that Never Was.")

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