background

Writings

The Neil R. Jones Collection

Biography

Editor’s Note:Stamp dealer, bookkeeper, cost analyst, office manager, game manufacturer, unemployment insurance claims examiner, and author—all of these are occupations that have been mentioned over the years in regards to Neil R. Jones. Yet few of these pursuits are readily verifiable today and some may have only been performed by Jones as a sort of semi-professional hobby. In constructing this biography, we have attempted to separate fact from fiction, either through printed records or Jones’s own words. Any editorial additions or notes appear in brackets thusly [ -ed.]. We have also left the newspaper accounts uncorrected as to punctuation, title formats and spelling, escept for the inserting of [sic] next to words that are obvious mis-spellings.
Rather than split this biography up into multiple pages, we have instead chosen to allow the reader to open and close the major sections of the work as they see fit. By clicking or tapping the “Show” and “Hide” texts where they appear on the page, the corresponding section will open or close. This technique works in both regular computers and mobile devices.

Early Life

(Show || Hide)
fulton-city-map-1903-small
Fulton, New York
1903
Red dot is the Jones home.
Click map for larger view.

NEIL Ronald Jones was born on May 29, 1909 to Clarence E. (1878-1950) and Esther (1880-1958) Jones. Clarence and Esther, married in 1898, settled in Fulton in the early 1900s at 303 Phillips Street—roughly a quarter mile from the east bank of the Oswego River, less than a mile from Lake Neatahwanta, and 11 miles from Lake Ontario—a semi-rural setting that would have been the antithesis of any big city. Fulton spanned both sides of the Oswego River and, with a total population of between 5 and 10 thousand people, there was plenty of room to raise a family.

Clarence was a steam shovel operator who, according to later accounts, was employed by the state of New York. Neil was the youngest of the four Jones children. Marie (1900-1985), married name McKenna, was the oldest, followed by Ivan (1901-1972) and Gurden (1904-1990). All the Jones siblings seem to have attended the local public schools and, except for Gurden—who moved to upstate New York and later Florida—spent their entire lives in Fulton.

Other than the facts listed above, what little is known of Neil’s early life comes from two short autobiographies—one written in 1951 and the other in 1941:

In the year 1909, two widely dissociated events occurred. The government commenced making Lincoln pennies, and I was born. The latter event took place in Fulton, N. Y. Although my education was a commercial one, my leanings were literary. One might say that I gained what education I have along that line out of reading.

“Meet the Authors”
Two Complete Science-Adventures Novels
Summer 1951

I live where I was born a good thirty years ago, in a small city of upstate New York near Lake Ontario. I commenced reading children’s books at seven and in a year's time had graduated in startling contrast to Jesse James and Young Wild West novels. I could have been no older than nine at the most when I read my first science fiction story. I can’t recall the author, but the title stands out from a mist of memory. It was “The Land of the Changing Sun,” with a subterranean motif as its locale. If anybody can tell me the author of this book, let them speak up about it.

Not long after this, I came across “Tarzan of the Apes,” and from then on I was an E. R. B. addict. His earlier writings were his best ones. Probably no other author I've read has had so great a part in forming my style and ideas.

Another author who created a strong formative impression upon me was H. Rider Haggard whose “She” I read at a tender age, and at the time gave me as horrible a nightmare as one would care to have. Nevertheless, I consider that the best book I have ever read. Perhaps a bit of reminiscent sentiment may color this choice, so allow for that. I wonder how many readers of “She” are aware of the sequels, “Ayesha” and “Wisdom’s Daughter.” The last was written after the other two, I believe, yet it precedes the others in chronologic order. The author believed so strongly in inspirational qualities that in writing “Ayesha” he allowed a generation to elapse after writing “She”—the same interval in the hero’s life, I believe.

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1941

Not only did Jones call his early favorite authors “influences” in the above, he also, in the same two autobiographies, gave an approximation of when he decided to become an author or, at least, decided to submit material for possible publication:

My first efforts at literary creation, however, saw the light in the local high school yearbook.

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1941

It was during my later school grades I found myself literarily inclined. I won a few local essay prizes, discovering how nice it was to write for money. Later on, I wrote for school publications, gratis.

“Meet the Authors”
Two Complete Science-Adventures Novels
Summer 1951

Memory can often play games with reality, but research would suggest that Jones was correct in his recollections of his early forays into writing.

The Fultonian 1926
The Fultonian
1926

IN the early part of the 1900s, the Oswego Palladium Times had a regular column entitled “Today’s News in Fulton.” One long column concerned the 1926 class yearbook of Fulton High School (The Fultonian) and made special mention of the “Literary Division” section of the yearbook:

The “Literary” division of the book is well worth reading. The work of the amateur penmen and penwomen of the High school is the best that has appeared in the senior class year book in many years…Other contributors to the department are: Neil R. Jones, ‘28, who penned the masterpiece, “Vengeance of the Ages.”
Oswego Palladium Times
June 18 [?], 1926

“Vengeance of the Ages,” then, since there does not appear to be any evidence to the contrary, can be assumed to be Jones’ first published work. The following year, with less fanfare, he had another story appear in 1927 edition of The Fultonian entitled, “The Meteor of Fate.”

Shortly after the assumed release date of the 1927 yearbook, a long article appeared in the Oswego Palladium Times concerning a speech contest held in Fulton. Near the end of the article:

...The award of the athletic Insignia was then made, and was followed by the awarding of the flag

day essay prize to Neil R. Jones. The award was granted by the Fulton Lodge of Elks.

Jones submitted the prize winning essay at the Flag Day services of the local Elks lodge and received the award of $10 in gold. [The $10 would be the equivalent of approximately $139 today. -ed]

Oswego Palladium Times
June 22, 1927

That Jones had decided to become a writer, and specifically of science fiction, was summed up in the caption for his graduation picture in the 1928 yearbook. Note the mention of “Dust in the Road,” a one-act play that Jones appeared in during Christmas of 1927.

Neil R. Jones Senior Picture 1928
NEIL R. JONES
Classes (1) (2) (3) (4); Literary Editor,
“Dust of the Road”
Neil likes -prose and often tells
He’d like to write like H. G. Wells.

A Professional Author

(Show || Hide)

AFTER his graduation from high school, there is a gap of about a year and a half in which it is unclear how Neil went about making a living. Most people in the early part of the 1900s went straight to work after high school, having received training of some sort that gave them the skills to be hirable in an entry level job, or continued to work on their family farms. Based on what little information Jones offered in his autobiographies (and our own research), it appears that Neil did not take on any sort of regular employment during this period but, instead, was involved in dealing in stamps commercially and writing:

I have a business education, but I’ve done no bookkeeping since I left high school; just writing.

“An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones”
Fantasy Magazine
January, 1937

Years ago I used to collect stamps, and I grew to dabble in them commercially, and from this sprang my first commercial writing, as I was paid in advertising space in the stamp magazines.

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1941

Later on, I wrote for school publications, gratis. From there, I graduated into doing shorts for stamp magazines.

“Meet the Authors”
Two Complete Science-Adventure Novels
Summer 1951

FAYETTEVILLE, New York is a village within the town of Manilus. A suburb of the city of Syracuse, Fayetteville is roughly 35 miles from Fulton and, from 1895 to 1933, the news of the village was reported in a weekly paper, The Fayetteville Bulletin. While newspapers have a long history of printing fiction alongside fact, The Bulletin did not do so on a regular basis and what fiction offerings they did present were often limited to poetry. Yet, in 1929 and 1930, The Bulletin printed three short stories by Neil R. Jones:

Exactly how Jones became involved in publishing in The Bulletin is not known. The paper contained no notices inviting submissions, did not cover Fulton news on any sort of regular basis (if at all) and Fayetteville was quite a distance from Fulton—most likely Jones knew someone who worked at the paper. It is unknown if he was paid for his work. However the stories got into the paper is not as important as that all three stories have postage stamps as their central plot point, leading us to conclude that they may be all, or part of the commercial writings Jones produced in return for advertising space in the stamp magazines. They also appeared while Neil was preparing his first manuscripts for Hugo Gernsback.

Air Wonder Stories January, 1930
Air Wonder Stories
January, 1930
Cover by Frank R. Paul

My first large scale effort was “The Electrical Man” in a 1930 issue of “Scientific Detective Monthly.” I still have a sequel to it in “The Limehouse Dope Mystery,” written just before the magazine was discontinued. “The Death's Head Meteor” in the January, 1930 issue of “Air Wonder Stories” was my first appearance on the big time although it was written some months after “The Electrical Man.”

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1941

I elbowed my way into the science fiction field by selling my first six stories. After that it was tougher, and I modified my earlier illusions of it being so easy.

“Meet the Authors” Two Complete Science-Adventure Novels Summer 1951

Jones makes it sound so easy, but his entrance into the field was not as simple as he describes it.

HUGO Gernsback had long championed science fiction (a genre he called “scientifiction”) and released the first issue of Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction, in April of 1926. Jones would have been 16 at the time and in his early autobiographies, he makes mention of his complete set of Amazing and that he had read Amazing since “before I ever started writing science fiction.” His senior yearbook caption makes it clear he had an interest in science fiction during high school, so it should come as no surprise that he would submit his first work to Gernsback.

Scientific Detective Monthly May, 1930
Scientific Detective Monthly
May, 1930
Cover art by Ruger

At some point in 1928 or 1929, Jones began submitting stories to Gernsback and while it is not clear how many stories were offered, three were accepted and one rejected. Jones claimed “The Electrical Man” as his first sale, This story, and its sequel, “Shadows of the Night,” were deemed to not be science fictional enough for the Gernsback scientifiction magazines and were published in the May, 1930 issue Scientific Detective Monthly (where it was cover featured) and the October, 1930 issue of Amazing Detective Monthly—the second title being simply a continuation of Scientific Detective Monthly with a new name. Both stories concerned a detective, Rand Miller, who used gadgets and devices to solve crime, ranging from phone taps to an electric wand that could be compared to the tasers of today. The second story even hinted at plans for Miller to create a bullet proof suit. Whether “Shadows of the Night” was an alternate title of “The Limehouse Dope Mystery,” the sequel mentioned by Jones, is not known.

While “The Electrical Man” may have been Neil’s first professional sale, due to the vagaries of publishing, “The Death’s Head Meteor” was the first published. The story is typical of the type of science fiction Gernsback championed in the early years, replete with numerous pseudo-scientific devices and also features the first use of the word “astronaut.” While a remarkable achievement for a young author (Jones was only 20 years old at the time of publication), it was the rejected story that would eventually prove to be Jones’s greatest achievement.

“The Jameson Satellite,” the first story in the Professor Jameson series, was a very different story when originally submitted then the version we have today. Gernsback, or one of his editors, feeling the story lacked action, suggested that Jones condense the story down to the bare facts of how the Professor was launched into space following his death and that this would then serve as an introduction to the story of Jameson’s first meeting with the Zoromes (see “The Jameson Satellite” for a more detailed account). Jones began rewriting the story, and may have completed the rewrite, when he had a major falling out with Gernsback.

Amazing Stories July, 1931
Amazing Stories
July, 1931
Cover art by Leo Morey

In 1929, while Jones was submitting his first stories, Gernsback, who already had a reputation of paying both low and slow, found himself overextended and was pushed into receivership and then bankruptcy, losing, among other assets, ownership of Amazing Stories. While Jones may, or may not have been aware of these business doings while they were occurring, he was not appreciative of the slow payments made for his work, which appear to have been made on publication and not acceptance.

When his payment for “The Electrical Man” was only a quarter of what it should have been—with Gernsback claiming that editorial expenses for the preparation of the manuscript were being charged back to Jones—Neil decided to send his revised version of “The Jameson Satellite” to T. O’Connor Sloane, the new editor of Amazing Stories. Jones described it thusly:

“The Jameson Satellite”, the first of the Professor Jameson Series...was rejected by three editors before it found sanctuary at Amazing Stories, and a shade of doubt may have existed there, too, for out of six stories in that issue it was the only one not forecasted in the previous issue. It was just slipped in unobtrusively, but the editorial choice was warmly vindicated, and since then the professor’s fame has grown.

"An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones"
Fantasy Magazine
January, 1937

According to Mike Ashley, the story was held for a year, before Sloane decided to publish it in the July, 1931 issue. Curiously, although the new series was popular from the beginning, there are only two fleeting mentions in the Amazing letter columns in regards to the new series before the publication of the second story in Amazing some seven months later.

amazing_detective_tales_193010-redux
Amazing Detective Tales
October, 1930
Cover art by Howard V. Brown (?)

SMALL towns being what they are, once Neil entered the ranks of published authors, he also gained notoriety in the local papers:

Neil R. Jones, a Fulton boy, has written another story which is in print in the magazine known as “Amazing Detective Tales.” The story is captioned “Shadows of the Night,” and is one of several that have been accepted from the local boy. “The Death’s Head Meteor,” published in the last January issue of “Air Wonder Stories,” and “The Electrical Man,” published in the May “Scientific Detective Monthly,” are from the pen of young Jones.

The Fulton Patriot
September 23, 1930
F. H. S. SCIENCE CLUB.

Neil R. Jones read before the Science club of Fulton High school at their regular meeting held in the Science room of the school on Tuesday.

He is an alumnus of the school and is now a writer of fictional stories with scientific plots. He read an original story “The Jameson Satellite.”

The Fulton Patriot
March 12, 1931

The second newspaper article would seem to be indicative of Jones’ personality, as there are many mentions in The Fulton Patriot in the 30s that would paint a picture of a giving individual involved in his community. His name is attached to Boy Scout activities, as well as serving in different capacities with the Demolays (a young men’s organization connected to the Masons). In addition, he is mentioned in articles dealing with volunteer efforts to ease the effects of the Depression.

Amazing Stories December, 1933
Amazing Stories
December, 1933
Cover art by Leo Morey

MOST readers are curious as to the lives of authors—where they get there ideas and even what they do when they aren’t actively involved in writing. While Neil was not forthcoming about his actual writing inspirations (his “muse” as it were), his short autobiographies outlined a very active life outside of writing.

During the summer, I swim a good share of the time, being qualified as a life guard. I occasionally play baseball and softball. In the winter, I ski and play basketball. An all year round occupation of mine is bookbinding of science fiction magazines. I dance considerably and also go to moving pictures quite often.

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1938

I spend a good share of the time swimming in the summer. I live in the territory made famous by the pen of James Fenimore Cooper, and I occasionally follow the same Indian trails of his novels in nothing more than a pair of bathing tights and shoes.

I do quite a bit of ballroom dancing. I play baseball and softball in the warmer months, and in the winter I play basketball. At one time I was a fairly good pool player, but I haven’t played much of late years, and one must constantly keep in practice at this.

Various games interest me. I play many card games, roulette and popular board games. In fact, I've let my imagination run riot in experimenting with new ideas in the matter of game boards. I have one a friend of mine made me from my drawings, with inlaid wood. Another I laboriously engraved with an electric pencil. Accompanying paraphernalia is along the same painstaking lines.

I have done quite a bit of bookbinding both in leather and cloth, confining this almost entirely to science fiction. I have a complete set of AMAZING STORIES from the beginning.

“Meet the Authors”
Amazing Stories
April, 1941
Amazing Stories October, 1934
Amazing Stories
October, 1934
Cover art by Leo Morey
A scene from “The Moon Pirates Part 2”

Obviously, Neil was quite busy with his leisure activities, but the types of activities also show someone who was not a solitary loner (often the picture we have of an author). Ballroom dancing, team sports and games are all activities that involve interaction with others, ergo it is not a stretch to assume that Jones had numerous friends and acquaintances with whom he was socially involved on a regular basis.

That Jones had leisure time to pursue his other interests is not surprising since, by his own admission:

I rarely work more than three hours a day, and not every day at that. I depend solely on mood. Forcing myself is invariably useless.

“An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones”
Fantasy Magazine
January, 1937

This figure may have been an exaggeration on the part of Jones (he listed his work time as a 20 hour week for the US Census of 1940), depending on how you define “work” (see “An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones” for a description of his working methods). Obviously, there would have needed to be time for planning and the business end of things. From what he reveals in the “Sketch”, he spent a good amount of time thinking about what was right, and wrong, with science fiction magazines—from the stories to the art to the editorial directions the magazines were taking. These opinions would also imply that he spent a good amount of time reading. Correspondence most likely took time, whether with friends or editors, and recognizing the importance of fans, took the time on at least two occasions to write letters in reply to questions or comments readers had made about his stories.

This mixture of work and leisure seemed to work well for Neil. Between 1930 and 1942, he published 38 short stories and one two-part serial; the bulk of his professional output. He also wrote two novels (one never published) and, by his own admission in the “Sketch,” there were a percentage of his stories that never saw publication due to varying circumstances. While this does not make Jones as prolific as many of his contemporaries, it was nothing to be ashamed of either.

amazing_stories_193604-redux
Amazing Stories
April, 1936
Cover art by leo Morey

ONE facet of Jones’ science fiction that is often overlooked is that he created a “future history” in which most, if not all of his stories, exist; long before the similar creations of Cordwainer Smith or Robert Heinlein. Of course, the creation of a series by an author was quite common in the pulp era—Jones did this with Professor Jameson and made a stab at it with Rand Miller—but these series were based around a central character or characters. The concept of a group of stories based around a chronology with few, if any, continuing characters, was something that no one had tried before and while Jones may have outlined his chronology for his own use, the stories themselves appear to have been written, or at least published, out of order.

The early version of the chronology (Jones later expanded it) falls, roughly into three sections, with some stories appearing before and after the “Tales”:

Exactly when the idea for a “future history” occurred to Neil is not clear. The first hint that his stories existed as part of a larger whole appeared in 1933 in the fifth Professor Jameson story, “Time’s Mausoleum.” In this story, the Professor and his companions travel through time and witness some of the key events of the chronology, but nearly all the events are concerned with the plots of stories that had not been printed in 1933, pretty much proving that Neil’s future history was conceived by at least early/late 1933 or even earlier. A 1934 letter written to Amazing Stories in response to a reader’s comments also offers a little more insight into the proposed timeline (see Two Letters to Amazing Stories). The next mentions are found, oddly, in 1936 newspaper articles, which we suspect were written by Jones, possibly as publicity releases:

amazing_stories_193704-redux
Amazing Stories
April, 1937
Cover art by Leo Morey
STORY BY JONES PUBLISHED

“Little Hercules,” one of a group of stories under the collective title, “Tales of the 26th Century,” written by Neil R. Jones of 303 Phillips St., will appear in a current issue of a monthly magazine.

Other stories published under this group include “The Death's Head Meteor,” “The Moon Pirates,” and “The Asteroid of Death.” The group represents an imaginative conception of romance and adventure against the scientific, sociological and general civilization of 600 years from now.

The Fulton Patriot
Thursday, August 27, 1936
FULTON MAN AUTHOR

FULTON, Sept. 2.-Exodus, latest story by Neil R. Jones of 303 Phillips street, Fulton, has been accepted by Thrilling Wonder Stories and will appear soon. The tenth story of Mr. Jones' Professor Jameson series will appear in an early issue of Amazing Stories under the title of Twin Worlds. At present Mr. Jones has completed The Stolen Brain Secret, from Tales of the 26th Century, and his next work will be his autobiography, requested by Fantasy magazine.

Oswego Palladium Times
Wednesday, September 2, 1936

“Exodus” was most likely published as “The Astounding Exodus”—whether the shorter title was Jones’ original and it was renamed when published is not known. “The Stolen Brain Secret” appears in none of the indexes of Jones’ work and we suspect it was re-titled “Durna Rangue Neophyte” and appeared in the June, 1937 issue of Astounding.

The autobiography mentioned in the second article appeared under the title, “An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones” and it was here that Neil expounded further on his future history:

The Professor Jameson series goes exclusively to Amazing Stories. Besides the various odd stories I have written, including “The Electrical Man” in Scientific Detective Monthly, “Suicide Durkee's Last Ride” in Amazing Stories, “Exodus” soon to appear in Thrilling Wonder Stories, etc., I keep two other series going. Under “Tales of the 26th Century”, you have read “The Death's Head Meteor" in Air Wonder Stories, “The Asteroid of Death” in Wonder Stories Quarterly, “The Moon Pirates” in Amazing Stories and “Little Hercules” in Astounding Stories. My third series, “Tales of the 24th Century”, has been represented by such stories as “Spacewrecked on Venus” in Wonder Stories Quarterly and “Escape from Phobos” in Wonder Stories.

“An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones”
Fantasy Magazine
January, 1937
science_fiction_193910-redux
Science Fiction
October, 1939
Cover art by Frank R. Paul

In the 1937 “Sketch,” Jones also makes mentions that “My own favorite science fiction story has not yet been placed…”. This is a reference to his novel, The Outlawed World—a story that, more or less, wraps up his 26th Century tales. Later in the same section, he also mentions that “I dreamed this novel for five years.” If he completed the novel in 1936, this would suggest that he may have begun to conceive of his future history at the very start of his professional career.

From 1937 to 1942, it appears that Neil continued with the same sort of schedule he had kept in earlier years—a mixture of leisure activities and writing—yet around him things were far from the same. Science fiction was over ten years old and readers were demanding new and different stories than those of the past. The magazines Jones had established himself with in earlier years had new owners, new editors and, in response to reader demand, new types of stories. Although Neil was a popular author, these changes did have an affect.

In 1938, Amazing Stories was sold and the new editorial regime decided to change the entire focus of the magazine to attract a younger audience. One casualty of this decision was that the Professor Jameson series, which had been a sure sale for Jones since 1931, was no longer considered a good fit for Amazing without numerous changes in style and content. Jones refused, tried to shop the series around to other publications and, in an attempt to mobilize his fan base, even wrote a rather impassioned article for the fanzine Stardust: the Magazine Unique in 1940 to explain why Professor Jameson was no longer in Amazing (see “Concerning Professor Jameson” for the full story).

Although the loss of Amazing as a publisher for Professor Jameson, combined with the changing market conditions, most likely put a real crimp in his writing livelihood, Neil forged ahead. He had been left with five completed Jameson stories when Amazing refused to publish the character, but, for reasons unknown, only one of these made it into print along with the newly written Jameson stories that eventually made their way into the pages of Astonishing Tales. His second novel, The Cosmic Veil (unpublished as of this writing), was most likely completed prior to 1941. The majority of the Durna Rangue stories appeared in print during this time (from a number of different publishers), along with a handful of future history stories. Even Amazing Stories had space for non-Jameson material and Neil penned two short autobiographies to accompany a pair of non-Jameson stories that appeared there.

The changing tastes of the fans and shifting editorial dictums that were part of a writer’s life had seemingly been overcome. Yet, even as the science fiction market was changing, there were even greater changes taking place in the world as a whole, and these changes would profoundly affect Neil in the year 1942.

The War Years

(Show || Hide)

It was my good fortune (?) to travel abroad as a guest of the government late in 1942, all expenses paid. I did have seven months’ preparation for the trip during which my literary activities were suspended until I returned to the United States three years later. In short, I became a GI.

“Meet the Authors”
Two Complete Science-Adventure Novels
Summer 1951
Planet Stories spring, 1941
Planet Stories
Spring, 1941
Cover art by Stanley Albert Drake

THROUGHOUT the early years of World War 2—roughly 1937-1941—the United States attempted to remain neutral, even while the alliance known as the Axis (Germany, Japan and Italy), fought in Europe, Asia and areas of the Pacific. One concession the US made to the conflict, was to establish the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which required all men aged 21 to 45 to register for the draft, meaning they could be called up for military service as the government deemed necessary. At first a lottery was established with service commitments lasting one year, but once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the draft became all-inclusive and service lasted for the duration; eventually involving some 10 million American men by the war’s end.

Neil was 31 at the time the Service Act was passed and, not having a job that was considered important to the war effort, was a prime candidate for military service. Since most draft notices gave the recipient 30 days to report, Jones most likely received his notice in February, 1942 and in March, joined a large group of New York state “selectees” (the World War 2 term for draftees) and entered the U.S. Army. Whether he attempted to write and submit stories in anticipation of being drafted is not known. Three stories did appear during the beginning of his military service, but it is most likely that these had already been accepted for publication prior to his induction into the military.

The service record of Cpl. Neil R. Jones seems to be among those destroyed in the National Personnel Records Center fire that occurred in 1973 and his military service might be a bit of a mystery, except that he wrote a rather lengthy letter to his family in March of 1945, which was printed in The Fulton Patriot. What makes the letter rather surprising, is that when he wrote it, the war was still ongoing and it does not appear to been subject to military censorship. It should also be noted that while World War 2 ended in Europe in May of 1945, the Japanese surrender didn’t occur until August of that same year.

CPL. NEIL JONES TELLS OF ARMY EXPERIENCES

Cpl. Neil R. Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Jones of 214 Cayuga street, has written the following interesting letter home, from Germany, under date of March 30th:

“I entered the military service on May 9. 1942, and spent four days at Fort Niagara before being sent to the Field Artillery Replacement Center at Fort Bragg, S. C. Here I had occasion to spend some time in one of the largest army hospitals in the world. I was assigned to the field artillery of the Second Armored division early in October, a couple months later taking ship for French Morocco. I lived on the hills overlooking Casablanca for a few weeks, until we moved into a great cork forest near Rabat and its more notorious twin city, Sale, the toughest city on the west coast of Africa. Before we left, I had occasion to stand guard beneath its dark, keyhole city gates, where hooded and shrouded figures moved so silently in the shadows to leave you wondering if they were coming up to you to find a soft spot to fit a knife or to beg for a cigarette.

“After four months in the cork forest we left the vicinity of Rabat and its looming guardian, the eleventh century Tower of Hassan, to depart French Morocco over the Atlas mountains (with its winding mountain roads and deep cliffs, reminding one of the Burma Road, for natives worked on this road, too) and into Algeria, Nearly month was spent on a rocky hill here in Algeria, on clear days we could see a mountain towering near the sea near Oran. We were only a few miles from the Mediterranean ourselves and occasionally enjoyed swimming in its clean blue water. I enjoyed even more later on diving and swimming from the open portals of an LST in the harbor of Onan.

“A week’s Mediterranean cruise in clear blue weather between Oran and Bizerte on courses followed centuries before by Moslem pirates was very interesting. The nights, too, were clear, a skyfull[sic] of stars swinging back and forth above us as we want to sleep on the deck in army cots.

“All the wreckage and aftermath of war smote us as we reached the vicinity of Bizerta with its demolished city, its graveyards of swastika-painted planes of all shapes and sizes, and the usual strewn and abandoned offal and tools of war. At Casablanca we found ourselves in the midst of the one and only German air raid made on that city, but here at Bizerta we felt ourselves closer (?) [word obscured in original] to war, possibly because of our own imminence (?) [word obscured in original] to it, partly though because so much of its significance lay close at hand. Olive groves replaced the cork forest of French Morocco and the barren hillsides of dusty Algeria. While here, I visited Tunis and Carthage.

“The day we boarded the LSTs for the invasion of Sicily is an unforgettable one, as it was our first experience with a sirocco, a burning wind blowing literally out of the mouth of hell itself, from the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert to our south, creating temperatures of 120 degrees in the shade. I never enjoyed a swim more than the one I took shortly before supper from the open mouth of an LST, and I was in again after supper, in the salt waters of Lake Bizerte. Then for Sicily. Standing out especially in my memory are the events preceding the landing on the shore near Licata; the daylight sneak feint for the island of Malta; then the abrupt angle turn for Sicily, with bright blue searchlights probing the water; the departure of the accompanying infantry in the cold early hours after midnight in their boats swung from the warcraft's davits, battle-tired men of the Tunisian campaign, cool and unworried. And with the dawn—the thunder of naval attack, the rattle of heavy-calibre machine guns. The belated Luftewaffe, stabbing anti-aircraft fire, splashing bombs all through the day; then our own landing in heavily loaded half-tracks and swift cannon-laden tanks. The campaign was swift and decisive as we cut the island in two and captured Palermo.

“We stayed until the rainy season was well set in, the first rain we’d seen in five months, since our crossing of the Atlas mountains back in Frenc [sic] Morocco.

“I saw Gibraltar in the shadow gloom preceding the dawn, looming vaguely out of the night, but more spectacular seemed the glittering trail of shore lights of a Spanish Morrocan city in a blacked out world. Dawn broke from behind the African hills as we slid away from Gibralter.

“Everyone enjoyed himself in England. It was the closest to being home and is the second choice of every American soldier, six months of civilization and social life while preparing for the big jump. Lasting friendships—and many marriages. Besides offering entertainment and living conditions approximating home, England is rich in historical lore and legends and relics of antiquity. I saw most of what London had to offer, and I also considered myself fortunate to be able to look upon the oldest monuments of England, the three thousand year old Druid Stones of Stonehenge with their trylon peripherys, center stone, sacrifical[sic] stone, isolated Devil Stone and the little known, legendary information regarding these religious relics set so mathematically conformed to the seasonal transits of the sun.

“The day seemingly long deferred finally arrived, D-Day. Then Carentan, Caumont and Canisy—the lightning flash across France and beyond Paris, and over the border into Belgium. St. Lo and Villebaudon had become memories, the hedgerows of Normandy were far behind. The penetration of the Netherlands and then Germany quickly followed, with time out circle and smash the German gamble of the Ardennes. The end of the enemy here in Europe is in sight. We hurry on.

“While occupying French Morocco, with one eye cocked on Spain and Spanish Morocco in case Hitler or General Franco should get ideas about getting strangle hold on Casablanca and imperil the Allies rear, we were all given the authority for wearing the European-African-Middle Eastern campaign medal. In England I was among those given the Good Conduct medal, while since then I’ve also been given the Bronze Service Star, Campaign “Sicily,” Bronze Service Star, “Normandy,” Bronze Service Star, Campaign “Northern France,” and Bronze Service Star, Campaign “Germany.”

“At the present time I have been overseas nearly two and a half years. During that time since leaving the homeland, I've spent 40 days on one kind of boat or another, and travelled in all kinds of army vehicles, many of them heavily gunned and armored. In travelling abroad one is impressed mainly with the difference in living standards. They vary on this side of the world, but in no country are they as high as they are back home. On the other hand, however, the people over here build more permanently and substantially of stone, and in the cities of Rabat and Palermo the architecture is more artistic and more beautiful than our own.

“The renowned buildings of England were somewhat a disappointment, especially the palaces which resemble big public buildings back home.

“In spite of the squalor and ignorance of North Africa, my travels and experiences there were probably the most interesting I’ve had.”

The Fulton Patriot
Thursday, May 24, 1945

WHILE Jones makes only a passing reference to “Lasting friendships—and many marriages” in his letter, the following article appeared in 1945:

Rita Jones
Rita Jones
circa 1949
Fulton Corporal Weds In England

FULTON—Announcement has been received here of the marriage of Miss Rita Gwendolin Rees. daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Rees, London, England, to Corp. Neil R. Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Jones, 214 Cayuga street.

The ceremony took place June 19 in St. Mary’s Episcopal church, Eastham, London. Rev. R. Brandreth performed the ceremony. The bride was given in marriage by her father.

Miss Winifred Hart was maid of honor and Miss Margery Bell bridesmaid. Trevor Rees, brother of the bride, was best man. A reception followed the ceremony at the Rees home.

Jones is a member of the second armored division of the 14th armored field artillery battalion.

Unknown Paper
July, 25, 1945

NEIL, assumedly in the company of Rita, returned to the United States in the fall of 1945 and was officially discharged from the Army in October.

1945-1966

(Show || Hide)

UPON his return from military service, there is no record of how Jones spent his time, nor how he went about making a living. The GI Bill of 1944 granted returning servicemen and women allowances for college, home loans and even funds to cover periods of unemployment, but it is unknown if he took advantage of any of these. He would have needed to take a bit of time to become reacquainted with civilian life and to also become used to his new position as a married man—along the way introducing Gwen to friends, family and a new country—and to find a place for the two of them to live. He may have tried working as a bookkeeper, cost analyst or office manager; occupations that don’t seem to fit in any other portion of his life. There is also mention in the newspapers of his involvement with the Demolays. Curiously however, between 1945 and 1948, while Jones may have continued writing, and there is evidence to suggest he did, there is no record of anything being published.

As a previously published author, who was popular enough to be cover featured, one would assume that Jones would have been able to contact publishers in New York and pretty much resume where he left off in 1942—he did have a backlog of material. The “Concerning Professor Jameson” article from 1940 lists five Jameson stories that had been completed when he had his problems with Amazing and only one of those had seen publication shortly after he was drafted. In addition, he had two completed novels on hand and, an unknown number of previously rejected stories, or stories he completed before he was drafted. As far as can be determined, however, this did not happen. Perhaps the war had changed him and he no longer felt the desire to go through the steps necessary to get into print. Perhaps he spent a good deal of time either working or looking for a regular source of income due to his marriage. Yet, it may have been the state of the magazine industry itself that kept him from returning to print.

While science fiction in the pre-war years had been filled with stories about the glorious world to come, the type of tales that appeared during the war had a cynical, questioning edge to many of them--the result of witnessing an entire world at war. It was once thought that science would lead to utopias undreamed of, yet it was science that produced the atom bomb, the dreaded weapon that was too terrible to use. Simply put, while pre-war science fiction had been about adventures and romance that had science, real and imagined, as a part of the plot. The wartime and post-war stories became more concerned with the effects, both good and bad, that science had on humanity—and the science that did appear in these stories, except in the juvenile bug-eyed monsters type of tale, was reflective of the accepted scientific principles of the time. Granted there were many fine stories produced during this period and there was even room for the sense of fantastic that had been evident in the pre-war years, but it is not a stretch to speculate that these were not the type of stories that Jones wanted to write. His style of science fiction was not something that would have been of interest to the editors of the time. Neil only had a handful of Professor Jameson stories published during the remainder of his life and, except for one exception, his future history came to an end with the war.

ONE leisure activity that Jones mentioned on numerous occasions was his interest in board games. At some point in the post-war period, he invented a board game of his own called, “Interplanetary.” There is very little information about the game, although it seems to have been produced in 1946. Donald Tuck mentions it very briefly in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, simply describing it as “...a disc and counters game which has proved quite popular.” The game must have had some distribution of sorts, since Tuck uses the word “popular,” yet a second citation for the game, found in the 1998 American Game Collectors Association game catalog simply lists Jones’ name and the name of the game with no information about manufacturer, distributor, etc. Possibly Jones marketed the game himself.

The Fanscient Summer, 1948
The Fanscient
Summer, 1948
Cover art by G. Waible

AT some point in 1947, Neil became employed by the State of New York as an Unemployment Insurance Claims Examiner. Exactly what the job entailed, or even where he worked has been lost to time. The current job description suggests that it is mainly an accounting position with very little, if any, interaction with the general public, but that may, or may not have been true in 1947. The possibility also exists that the job required Jones to work in the state capitol, but this cannot be determined. However the new job worked into the life of the Joneses is not of great importance, except that it most likely provided financial security.

THE year 1948 marked the return of Jones to the ranks of published authors. Over the years, Neil had benn in contact with science fiction fans, although how much is not known, and had two pieces, neither of which would have fit into the magazines of the time, published in fan publications before the war. It is not surprising then, that he would turn to the fan press once again to present a work that would appeal to his fans, but would not fit in any other type of publication. The Summer 1948 issue of The Fanscient presented a long article, “The Legend of Interplanetary,” marking Jones’ return to print after nearly six years. The article outlined Neil’s entire future history, from the beginning of the Earth to the era of Professor Jameson, and presented the major plot points of all his published works, including the two stories of The Electrical Man, as a part of the chronology. The article also included a complete bibliography that was integrated into the text. How the article came to appear in The Fanscient is not known, especially since the fanzine was published by the Portland Science-Fantasy Society of Portland, Oregon.

Neil R. Jones 1949
Neil R. Jones
1949

The publication of “The Legend of Interplanetary” was only the beginning for Neil’s return and within about a year, the following newspaper article appeared:

Current Magazine Has Story Written By Fulton Author

FULTON.—A story, "The Metal Moon,” written by Neil R. Jones of 221 Utica St., Fulton, appears in the current issue of Super Science Stories, Jones announced Thursday.

Jones said it was the 17th story in the Prof. Jameson series, which began appearance 18 years ago in Amazing Stories. Jones articles have appeared also in several other publications.

A novel by Jones in book form and entitled "The Cosmic Veil," will appear sometime in 1950. Jones served with the Second armored division during world war 2 in Africa and European areas. During the past winter he studied with the Thomas H. Uzzell school of narrative technic.

Oswego Palladium-Times
August 26, 1949 (?)

The Thomas H. Uzzell school mentioned in the article is in reference to the author and teacher who wrote two respected books on writing technique and also offered correspondence courses in the craft of writing.

super-science-stories-09-1949
Super Science Stories
September, 1949
Cover art by unknown
Issue that featured
“The Metal Moon”

That Jones would return to the printed page with Professor Jameson is not all that surprising, since the character would have had name recognition among readers of the day. What is surprising, however, is that “The Metal Moon” was newly written and not one of the stories completed when Jones had his falling out with Amazing. Between 1949 and 1951, four more Jameson stories appeared in Super Science Stories, all, apparently, newly written as well. Mike Ashley relates in his article “The Immortal Professor” that Super Science editor Ejler Jakobsson helped Jones plot several of the stories, while Jones only credited the assist of Jakobsson on one story.

The Cosmic Veil is a bit of a mystery in terms of Jones’ written work. The novel was apparently written between 1937 and 1941, since Neil first mentions it in his 1941 “Meet the Authors” piece done for Amazing. Unfortunately, he only states that “I have written two novels...” and simply gives the length for Veil at being 70,000 words, without any other information. While the novel remains unpublished as of this writing, Jones did leave behind some intriguing clues in his other works as to what it might have been about.

The first reference to a “cosmic veil” is found in the story “Time’s Mausoleum,” published in 1933, wherein Professor Jameson encounters a device that allows him to view past events:

They moved onward for many decades, finding that a great catastrophe had stricken the earth. An immense cloud of cosmic dust had enfolded the earth from out of space in its drifting mass, shutting off the light of the sun. Humanity found refuge in vast, subterranean cities. Another jump of a hundred years, however, found civilization once more living on the surface in rebuilt cities, the earth free of the cosmic veil.

“Time’s Mausoleum”
Amazing Stories
December, 1933

Later, in the 1948 article “Legend of the Interplanetary,” Jones gave an approximate date for this catastrophe:

comet_194105-redux
Comet
May, 1941
Issue that printed
“The Ransom of Toledo”
Cover artist unknown

During the 21st Century, a cosmic veil of meteoric dust buried the earth in a mantle of gloomy darkness for forty years before the sun once more shone upon the earth, and the human race emerged upon the surface of the earth from the underground cities they had built.

“The Legend of the Interplanetary”
; The Fanscient
Summer, 1948

Both of these references would seem to point to the story, “The Ransom of Toledo,” which was published in 1941:

For twenty-eight years, since the coming of the cosmic veil of meteoric debris, no ray of sunshine had touched the earth to break the monotony of the endless, perpetual night. Fifteen years before the coming of the cosmic dust cloud, astronomers had seen it approaching from the direction of the Pleiades, a cloud eight times the diameter of the earth and which astronomers predicted was of sufficient density to be held by earth’s gravity. Mankind had prepared for the emergency in the time given them by building underground cities near the sites of the old ones left untenanted beneath the dismal canopy of the cosmic veil.

“The Ransom of Toledo”
Comet
May, 1941

Granted, it is purest speculation to try to glean the plot of an unpublished novel based on its title and the similarity of that title to a phrase mentioned in an author’s other works, but Jones did not just write his non-Jameson stories and novels at random—he had a firm idea of how his works fit together. While “The Ransom of Toledo” might be the only time he used the cosmic veil concept, he seemed too specific in the other two references as to the length of the event for it to be limited to a single story. There is a good chance that The Cosmic Veil was about a period in earth’s future where a cloud of meteoric dust engulfs the planet. Beyond that, it is impossible to say anything definitive.

Two-Csan-1951-summer-cover-redux
Two Complete Science Adventure Novels
Summer, 1951
Cover art by Allen Anderson

NEIL’S return to publishing was not only limited to Professor Jameson. The Summer, 1951 issue of Two Complete Science-Adventure Books featured The Outlawed World, the novel Jones had considered “My own favorite science fiction story...” back in 1937, although it was re-titled The Citadel of Space for this magazine presentation. The cover also had the text “An Exciting New Durna Rangue Novel” running below the title. This return to publishing, however, was very short-lived.

While the Professor Jameson series had found a home at Super Science Stories, and might have continued indefinitely, Super Science was canceled with the August, 1951 issue, leaving two Jameson stories completed, but unpublished. Whether Jones attempted to contact other publishers about continuing the series is not known, but for all intents and purposes, the Professor Jameson series pretty much ended in 1951. And while The Citadel of Space had finally gotten published, Neil’s attempts to get his other novel, The Cosmic Veil, into print had never proven successful and if the publisher of Two Science-Adventure Novels was interested in another Jones novel, but rejected The Cosmic Veil, Neil was now working full time and it is not known how much time he actually had for writing—basically another dead end. Not to be deterred, however, a newspaper article nearly a year after the demise of Super Science shows that Neil was still trying to get his works back in the public eye:

Mr. and Mrs. Neil R. Jones have returned after spending eight days in New York City. While there Mr. Jones conferred with his literary agent on the book publication of his novel “The Citadel In Space” which appeared a year ago in the magazine, “Two Complete Science Adventure Books.”

Plans are also under way to record on movie film for television purposes his story. “The Hermit of Saturn's Ring” which appeared in a copy of “Planet Stories” twelve years ago. He also visited several magazine editors.

During their stay, they were joined by Mrs. Jones’ father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Rees, arriving from London, England, on the French liner, Liberte. Mr. and Mrs. Rees plan to stay for the balance of the summer. Arriving home, they were met in Syracuse by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Frawley of Pathfinder Courts. Both Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Frawley are British war brides and have been here several years.

Oswego Valley News
June 5, 1952

Television offered a new outlet for genre authors, even at this early date. There were two science fiction television series in production that would fit with the date of the article, Out There and Tales of Tomorrow, yet there is no record of Jones’ name being attached to either show. Most likely, the project never got off the ground.

That Jones kept striving for book publication isn’t surprising. Being published in a book, as opposed to a magazine, was of importance to pulp authors, as it gave their work a degree of respectability, permanence, residuals and, most likely, a degree of notoriety. The problem for Neil and others, however, was that science fiction was far from respected in the 1940s and early 50s. Mainstream publishers only published “literary” works. Small press publishers, many of whom published material that had appeared in the pulps, had their own particular editorial focus which, at times, was quite narrow. Paperback books were not a viable option, as they were still in their infancy and trying to establish themselves as an alternative to magazines and hardback books by focusing on most every genre but science fiction.

These hurdles aside, The Citadel of Space would have been a bit of a hard sell, simply because it was a continuation of the Durna Rangue series and not a stand-alone novel. The wave of nostalgia that arose in the 1960s was still a number of years off and that Neil was never able to find a publisher for his stories and novels during this period is not surprising—the publishers he needed, and needed him, just didn’t exist at that particular time.

As for the portion of the article about visiting several magazine editors, this would most likely have been a dead end for Jones as well. The pulp market was disappearing at this point and the science fiction magazines that did remain were of a completely different character than they had been when Neil tried to get back into print after the war. Some of the later pulp authors had made the jump to slick magazines, but Neil’s work was not a good fit for them either. His storytelling was of a style that told a solid adventure tale with some science, a minimum of interpersonal relationships and no controversy, sex, or questioning of societal values. In other words, his type of science fiction was of the old school that wasn’t a fit for any of the periodicals being sold at the time. Although Amazing Stories did reprint the first two Professor Jameson stories—“The Jameson Satellite” in 1956 and “The Planet of the Double Sun” in 1962—there just wasn’t interest, at the time, in what Jones had to offer.

FOR the remainder of the 50s and early 60s, the only mention of Jones to be found was in the society pages of the local papers, or an announcement here and there about his participation in various volunteer positions. Then, in 1964:

FIND WOMAN WITH THROAT SLASHED

Fulton – A Fulton woman was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital at 9 a.m. Monday, suffering from a severely slashed throat. Mrs. Rita G. Jones, 1026 Fay St., was found by a neighbor, Mrs. Dorothy Canfield, who called police. Menter’s ambulance was summoned and rushed Mrs. Jones to the hospital, where her condition was reported critical early this afternoon. Police are investigating to determine whether there was foul play or the wound was self-inflicted.

The following day, a follow-up article appeared with additional details (and an obvious typo):

Self-inflicted Stab Wounds Are Fatal to Woman

FULTON - Mrs. Rita G. Jones, 38, of 1028 Fay St., died Monday afternoon in Lee Memorial Hospital from self-inflicted stab wounds, according to police.

Mrs. Jones, wife of Neil Jones, was rushed to the hospital shortly after 9 p.m. [sic] Monday by Menter Ambulance with lacerations to the neck. She died shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Detective Eugene Thompson investigated and reported the woman, a native of England, had been despondent about her health recently.

Mrs. Jones was born in Stockton on Tees, Yorkshire, England, and had resided in Fulton 18 years. She was employed formerly as an office clerk in the Ford Neon Sign Company and attended the Methodist Church. She was a member of Elizabeth Chapter, Order of Eastern Star.

Surviving, besides her husband, are her mother. Mrs. Minnie Rees, visiting in Fulton from England: two sisters, Mrs. Ivy Rose and Mrs. Violet Farnaby; and two brothers, Albert and Trevor Rees, all of England.

Services will be conducted Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Gardner funeral home with Rev. C. Edwin Cahoon, pastor of the Free Methodist Church, officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Adnah cemetery

Friends may call at the funeral home Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.

The Oswego Palladium Times
Tuesday, Sept 29, 1964

Newspapers of an earlier era were more considerate of people’s privacy then they are today and these two articles about Rita Jones are good examples. The word “suicide” is not used in either article and, even in a small town like Fulton, the details of whatever health problems Rita may have had are not revealed—that was left between her doctor and her family—although it might be that her death was not totally unexpected, since it seems that her funeral occurs very quickly after her demise.

Exactly how Rita’s death affected Neil, and what changes it brought to his life, are not known, but after Rita’s death, except for a classified ad looking to buy or sell items, he seems to have dropped out of public life.

The Later Years

(Show || Hide)

BEGINNING in 1955, Ace Books, a paperback publisher, began to bring about a renaissance in science fiction by not only publishing original works, but also reprints of stories and novels that spanned the entire history of the genre. Editor Donald Wollheim had been involved for many years in science fiction—starting as a fan who became an author and then moved on to editor—and had an extensive familiarity with the genre. From the late 1950s until the late 60s, Ace was the predominate publisher of science fiction, although it was well known that many of the works it published were edited, at times heavily, to fit the line’s restrictive page counts.

POTDBSUN1967-redux
Planet of the Double Sun
Ace Books
1967
Cover art by Gray Morrow

Because Ace Books was so well known, there is every reason to believe that Neil would have been aware of their science fiction books and, because of the popularity of the Professor Jameson series, Wollheim would most likely have known of Neil’s body of work as well. How or when the author and editor got into contact is not known, but beginning in 1967, Ace Books began a series of reprints of Jones’ Professor Jameson stories under the series title of “Professor Jameson Space Adventure.” Not only did the series mark Jones’ return to print, it also made the Professor Jameson series the longest running series in the history of science fiction.

Wollheim must have had some affection for the Jameson stories, since the first four volumes of the series reprinted the first twelve stories in their original publication order. The fifth volume reprinted the seventeenth and eighteenth stories in reverse order, but also presented two never before printed stories that had been completed, but never submitted, during the problems with Amazing in the late 30s—all, or at least some, of the stories were edited, however. In addition, Jones is attributed with writing the foreword to the second volume, which is a re-telling of “The Jameson Satellite.” Each volume was copyrighted under Jones’ name and possibly having ownership of his own works, something not available to pulp authors, must have spurred Neil in some fashion, because he applied for renewal of copyright on many of his non-Jameson stories during this time.

Whether Neil had any input into the series beyond the foreword is not known. Having his stories in book form however, revived his interest in writing. Some years after the fact, in commenting on his career, he wrote:

As for my Professor Jameson series, there are now thirty written stories, of which 23 have seen publication…When Ace began reprinting the earlier stories, I wrote the last three (“The Satellite Sun,” “Hidden World,” and “The Metal Menace”), and began the 31st (“The Sun Dwellers”).

Contemporary Science Fiction Authors
1974 Edition
© 1970 Unicorn & Son
New material © 1974 R. Reginald

Unfortunately, when it came to having his writings published, Neil seemed to have a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the beginning of his career, his first submissions were sent to Gernsback just as Gernsback was overextended and going into bankruptcy. Some forty years later, A. A. Wynn, the founder of Ace Books, died just as the Professor Jameson series was getting underway and, in a situation similar to Gernsback’s many years before, the company found itself in financial trouble. As a result, Ace began to scale back its publishing schedule and one of the casualties was the Professor Jameson series, which ended with the fifth volume.

WITH the cancellation of the Ace series, Jones faded once again into semi-obscurity. Occasional reprints of “The Jameson Satellite” appeared sporadically in the United States and Europe during the 1970s, but there were no further attempts to present any of Neil’s fiction. There is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest he corresponded with fans and bibliographers during the remainder of his life, but as far as can be determined, he ceased writing.

In 1973, Neil retired from his position as an Unemployment Insurance Claims Examiner for the state of New York after twenty-six years. He would have been sixty-four and, if this excerpt from a longer newspaper article is any indication, he still maintained a social life and still enjoyed dancing:

...The second note came from Mrs. Eliza J. MacRae of Mark Avenue, who was in one of the dance teams that won a trophy at the recent Silver and Gold Gala. Mrs. MacRae and her partner, Neil R. Jones of Fulton, were the top fox trotters at the annual dance party.

Syracuse Port Standard
June 24, 1974

AT some point in the late-1970s, Neil married Leona Marie Harbottle Tice. Leona and her husband, Gaylord, ran a dairy farm outside of Fulton until his death in 1975. Their names were often mentioned in the local papers in both the business and social sections and it is very possible that Neil and Leona met through various events in Fulton. What is rather surprising, however, is that there is no record of the date that the couple married in either the local papers or databases. The couple resided in Fulton, but neither of their names appear in the local papers during the time of their marriage.

Das Zeitmausoleum (The Time Mausoleum)
Das Zeitmausoleum
(The Time Mausoleum)

Moewig
1984
Cover art by Ed Emshwiller

PROFESSOR Jameson returned to print again in the mid-1980s. Between 1984 and 1986 the German publisher Moewig produced four collections (in German) that reprinted eleven of the first twelve Jameson stories under the series title of “Professor Jamesons Weltraum-Abenteuer (Professor Jameson’s Space Adventure)”. It is not known whether the stories followed the editing of the Ace editions or were different, but the covers are all reprinted from Ace titles that had nothing to do with Jameson. The series was subsequently reprinted in 1988 with different covers.

MIKE Ashley began corresponding with Jones in 1979 in regards to experiences with Hugo Gernsback and also mentioned a book project he had in mind that would feature stories that had been accepted for publication but never published. Neil responded by sending Ashley two Jameson stories that had been written for Super Science Stories in 1951, but Super Science had ceased publication. The book project never came about and, before Mike could inform Neil that a fanzine publisher was interested in printing one of the stories, Neil passed away on February 15th following a “long illness.”

One obituary appeared on February 26:

Neil R. Jones

FULTON—Neil R. Jones, 78, of 1028 Fay St., died Thursday following a long illness.

Mr. Jones was a native of Fulton. He retired from the New York State Employment Service, Fulton Branch, after many years. Mr. Jones was an author of several science fiction books and short stories. He was best known for his Professor Jamison [sic] series of the 1930s and ’40s.

He was a member of Hiram Lodge No. 144, F&AM of Fulton. He was an Army, veteran of World War II and was a member of the American Legion Post of Fulton.

He is survived by his wife, Leona M. (Tice) Jones; a brother, Gurden Jones of Port Charlotte, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. from the Foster Funeral Home, the Rev. John W. Fulton officiating.

Spring burial in Mount Adnah Cemetery.

Calling hours will be 1-2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home, 910 Fay St.

The Palladium-Times
February 26, 1988

Neil was laid to rest next to Rita in Mount Adnah Cemetery in Fulton. The back of their tombstone is decorated with the carved figures of a Zorome, the Jameson Satellite circling the earth and the inscription “Author of the Professor Jameson Series.”

Final Notes

(Show || Hide)
Astro-Adventures April, 1989
Astro-Adventures
April, 1989
Cover art by Stephen E. Fabian

In 1988, Jones was awarded a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, which is presented annually at World Con by First Fandom for contributions to the field of science fiction dating back more than 30 years. Since World Con was held in September of 1988 and Neil passed in February of that same year, the award would have been posthumous, although it is not listed as such in any index.

The April, 1989 issue of Astro-Adventures, a fanzine edited by Robert M. Price, printed “Exiles from Below,” the first Professor Jameson story to be printed in 31 years. With the story’s publication, Jones’ series extended its record as the longest continuously published series in the history of science fiction, having appeared over a period of 58 years.

There are still six Jameson stories that were written, but have never been printed, as of this writing.

Leona M. (Tice) Jones passed away on March 13, 2001 at the age of 89. She was buried next to her first husband, Gaylord, in the Rural Cemetery in Oswego, New York.

The Neil R. Jones Papers are part of the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University. The library describes it thusly:

The Neil R. Jones Papers consist of manuscripts, diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, photo albums, and memorabilia of the American science fiction author. Included in the collection are 250 volumes of Jones' personal diary spanning more than fifty years, and his typewriter.

An additional note mentions that the collection is “unprocessed and not available for research.”

There are still book collections available around the world of the first twelve Professor Jameson stories.

Bob Gay
April, 2019
© 2019 by Bob Gay

Early Works

Vengeance of the Ages

Possibly, the first published work of Jones that originally appeared in the 1926 edition of The Fultonian, the yearbook of Fulton High School.

The Meteor of Fate

An adventure story from the 1927 edition of The Fultonian, the yearbook of Fulton High School

A Japanese Romance (Stamp Story #1)

A story from the August 22, 1929 edition of The Fayetteville Bulletin.

Bandits of the Sky (Stamp Story #2)

A story from the January 2, 1930 edition of The Fayetteville Bulletin.

Pirate Treasure (Stamp Story #3)

A story from the January 23, 1930 edition of The Fayetteville Bulletin.

Stories

The Death’s Head Meteor

The first of Jones’ professional sales to be printed from the January, 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories. Illustrated.

The Jameson Satellite

The first story of the Professor Jameson series from the July, 1931 issue of Amazing Stories. Illustrated

Time’s Mausoleum

The fifth Professor Jameson story, which has ties to “The Jameson Satellite,” and originally appeared in the December, 1933 issue of Amazing Stories. Illustrated.

Ephemera

Two Letters to Amazing Stories

Two letters written by Jones in response to reader comments and published in the November, 1932 and February, 1934 issues of Amazing Stories.

An Autobiographical Sketch of Neil R. Jones

Originally published in the January, 1937 issue of Fantasy Magazine.

Meet the Authors - Neil R. Jones

A short autobiography from the December, 1938 issue of Amazing Stories.

Meet the Authors - Neil R. Jones

A short autobiography from the December, 1941 issue of Amazing Stories.

Concerning Professor Jameson

An article from the November, 1940 issue of Stardust: the Magazine Unique in which Jones addresses why his Professor Jameson series no longer appears in Amazing Stories.

Meet the Authors - Neil R. Jones

A short autobiography from the Summer, 1951 issue of Two Complete Science-Adventure Novels.
Return to the Writings Index
Did you enjoy your visit to Famous (and forgotten) Fiction?
Please consider subscribing, to help pay our web hosting and keep us writing!
Plus, you get your name listed on our Editors' Corner page.