Space World magazine

From: George Olshevsky (
Date: Sat May 24 2008 - 18:34:52 UTC

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    Space World was a popular-science magazine that covered the world's
    space programs. The first issue was dated May 1960. I missed that
    issue on the newsstand but have since picked it up at eBay. I did pick
    up the second and third issues, dated July 1960 and September 1960,
    way back 48 years ago (they're boxed up in my garage somewhere, along
    with other space mags from that period), and I attribute my ongoing
    interest in satellites and spacecraft in part to those two issues.
    Space World was poorly distributed and I seldom saw it on the
    newsstands; I recall buying occasional copies at the Harvard Square
    newsstand in the mid-1960s when I lived in Cambridge, Mass. Recently I
    had the opportunity to purchase a number of lots of the title, and now
    I'm on the garden path to yet another space-mag collection. So--if
    anyone on this list is looking to unload old copies of Space World,
    particularly from the 1960--1966 period where my run is weakest,
    please let me know off list.
    I've begun to piece together a history for Space World. It was started
    by William Woolfolk (publisher) and Otto Binder (editor) in 1960.
    Binder should be quite familiar to older list members; his name was on
    all kinds of pop-sci articles and books, and science-fiction, of that
    era. He was pals with such notables as Willy Ley and Wernher von
    Braun. He broke into writing in the 1940s doing freelance scripts for
    well-known comic books, nicluding old Marvels, DCs, Fawcetts, and
    Qualitys. Likewise Woolfolk, one of whose claims to comic-book fame
    was the exclamation "Holy Moley!" frequently used by Captain Marvel
    (Fawcett Publications). Space World lasted into early 1963 under those
    two individuals; the final issue seems to be dated February-March 1963
    or just March 1963. Thereafter the title was picked up by the
    notorious Ray Palmer, whose other publications included such items as
    Fate magazine and a spate of UFO and mystic "woo-woo" spook mags.
    Palmer (whose name was given to the uncostumed alter ego of DC's
    shrinking superhero the Atom [second, Silver Age, version] by
    comic-book scripter-pal Gardner Fox in 1961, apparently because
    Palmer's growth had been stunted after a childhood accident that left
    him about four feet tall, with a curved spine) published the magazine
    until his death in 1977. After that, it was continued by his wife(?)
    Marjorie and others. Its final issue was dated December 1988. Then,
    without skipping a month, it was taken over by the National Space
    Society as a subscription-only "house publication" under the new title
    Ad Astra, first issue dated January 1989, which continues today. List
    member James Oberg worked as an editor and columnist for Space World
    during the 1970s and maybe 1980s, providing many insightful features
    about the Soviet space program and other things.
    Woolfolk, incidentally, lived to the ripe old age of 86. While
    producing Space World, he found work as a script writer for the TV
    show The Defenders (1961--1965) and, later, was involved in other
    writing projects and books. He died in 2003. The New York Times
    carried his obituary.
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