Probably the most famous character ever created by a science-fiction writer is that of Professor Jameson, the human being whose brain was placed into a practically immortal robot machine. The Professor’s adventures, with his band of “robot men” have thrilled countless thousands of fantasy readers over a period of many years. This entire series, until very recently, has appeared in the pages of AMAZING STORIES, one of our leading and best science-fiction magazines.
But in the last few years, the Professor has been absent from his public. And the demands have been many for his return. Unfortunately a situation has arisen to stalemate the return of Professor Jameson in AMAZING STORIES. For that reason, STARDUST takes up the gavel. WHERE IS PROFESSOR JAMESON? Neil R. Jones, popular author of this famous series, tells us the story behind the scenes from his viewpoint. So without further ado, let us go forward with the question—“WHERE IS PROFESSOR JAMESON?”
THE greater share of science fiction readers are acquainted with my Professor Jameson Series. The first twelve of these have been published in AMAZING STORIES. I have written five since then, but the new policy of the magazine bans them. Professor Jameson is not wanted in his known and recognized character which has made him popular with the readers. His friends, the Zoromes with their numerical names, are especially barred. In fact, there would be scarcely anything left by which to recognize him except his name and his mechanical status. It would be difficult for him to be anything else, however, than what he is and has been, whether he would or not, and I firmly believe that the readers to whom he has come to be recognized as an old friend, while having continually made new ones, would not have tradition upset to an absurd and incongruous state of conditions any more than they would like to see America become a dictatorship or see the Metropolitan Opera go burlesque. Any one of the series can be read and enjoyed separately, entirely independent of the others. There are many enthusiastic readers who have not read the earlier stories. The following are the unpublished stories of the series in the order in which they were written. “In the Meteoric Cloud” had already been accepted by the old regime but was immediately returned to me by the new owners.
- 13. “In the Meteoric Cloud”
- 14. “The Accelerated World”
- 15. “The Strange Moonlet”
- 16. “Doomsday on Ajiat”
- 17. “The Feline Men”
A great deal of improvement has been done to the new AMAZING STORIES, which is also riding on a crest of science fiction popularity sweeping the magazine stands, but one mistake made is the discontinuance of the Professor Jameson Series. Readers do not like it. They have written in. Grudgingly, the editorial attitude has been forced to acknowledge the popularity of Professor Jameson and have opened a narrow door through which he cannot enter in his character as we have known him. Policy dictates more or less a trading on his reputation in a new and utterly fantactic, anachronistic role, extremely contradictory to previous facts—like changing history and admitting that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo, conquered England—and take up the story from that point under the new point of view. I would rather retire the professor, and I have offered to do so—but the unspoken reply to this is to bar and discourage completely every story I send in, with pointed suggestions from time to time as to the new set-up regarding Professor Jameson.
I have always considered the readers when writing this series, and if they want Professor Jameson as they have come to know him, they must take up the torch. The crux of the matter is this: Professor Jameson is barred by the editor-owner, Mr. B. G. Davis. Write your demands to Mr. Davis—not to Mr. Palmer. Mr. Palmer is little more to blame for the situation than is Charlie McCarthy and does not deserve your ire. Nor does Mr. Davis entirely. Mr. Davis has done a very creditable job in the rehabilitation of AMAZING STORIES, especially in regards to improving the illustrations, creating many interesting departments and lowering the price of the magazine, and he has been aided by a timely rise in science fiction popularity. Mr. Davis does not believe in a flexible policy. His policy, though probably 80 to 90% perfect, can be improved by an alteration of a small percentage, but evidently when he makes a change it is a blanket change, and he adheres strictly to it. He is, unfortunately for a large majority of his readers, unfamiliar with the Professor Jameson Series and entirely out of sympathy with it. Possibly. the only one of these stories he has over read was “In The Meteoric Cloud,” and that in a prejudiced frame of mind, if he even finished reading it, when he saw how it conflicted with his blanket policy.
The Professor Jameson Series has always operated under a policy of its own, and successfully. If is entirely, different. True, these stories do not carry a complicated plot as a rule, but they are convincing, living and real. They are what you would naturally expect to find in regards to environment, conditions and reaction in a far distant future among other worlds. Nothing of this world should expect to touch them too exactingly. It would be unnatural, there would be no conviction. These unearthly adventures carry a high interest and suspense with exciting complications and thrilling adventures even if they do follow a travelogue sequence. This last is the essence and foundation of the series—else, why did not Professor Jameson jump to his doom when he found that he had been recalled to life forty million years after and made a machine man? He considered the matter strongly at the thought of undying loneliness. But 25X-987, from his wisdom born of many planets and thousands of centuries experience, urged the professor to come with the Zoromes on adventures in the vast, endless Universe among the galaxy of stars and planets, and he did not jump. What opportunity for such adventure could be more appealing? And this decision of his became the guiding light of the Professor Jameson Series.
IF AMAZING STORIES does not want the series any longer, because of its disturbing contrast of policy, perhaps another magazine might be persuaded to continue the series through the efforts of the readers. Right now, there appears to be a curious hands-off policy of these other magazines, as if they were tampering in a business which was not their own. I do not, however, intend to let either Professor Jameson or the readers down through the fact that profits are dangled before my eyes and withheld in the face of my necessity. I have contacted a number of readers to sound out popular opinions and the following is typical of the group: “By all means, keep Professor Jameson as he is. Do not make the fatal mistake of writing as AMAZING would have you do. This, would mean the ultimate downfall of all you have accomplished in the past.”
I am willing to place the Professor Jameson Series on the shelf in deference to editorial disinclination, but I do not feel that I should be made to pay a penalty of having all my other stories rejected because of this, to be martyred because my creation of Professor Jameson ultimately brought about a difficult situation. I still turn out odd stories like “Kobera” (“Kiss of Death”), and I am author, of “Tales of the 24th Century” and “Tales of the 26th Century.”
There is not space to list all the favorable and congratulatory comments concerning the twelve Professor Jameson stories, but here are a limited number, dealing mostly with specific reasons why the professor is enjoyed.
- .. ‘It would be a pity to allow stories like Neil R. Jones’ Professor Jameson series to be discarded because of a set policy that is admirable in most cases but which can have exceptions. By this you may gather that I like Professor Jameson stories.’—H.F.P.
- ‘How about bringing back Professor Jameson and the Zoromes?’—A.L.W.
- ‘Mr. Jones has always put out a damn good story. Maybe the AMAZING story policy needs a little rehashing.’—T.B.Y.
- ‘I can name two other Science Fiction magazines that beat you a mile. But a Jameson novel would put you in unquestionable lead.’ —L.M.
- ‘Ask Mr. Jones if we can’t have another Professor Jameson adventure.’—S.Y.
EDITORIAL REPLY.: No sooner said than done. We’ve written Mr. Jones and requested the immediate presence of the estimable Jameson. You’ve voiced the request of very many other readers. So watch for the latest Jameson story in AMAZING. We’ll rush it to you as soon as possible—R.A.P.
(And then Mr. Davis stepped in with the axe after having read his first and last Professor Jameson story. Oblivion. I happen to know that Mr. Davis was entirely new to science fiction when he came to take over AMAZING STORIES).
- ‘ “On the Planet Fragment” by Neil R. Jones, best in the October issue.’—R.B.
- ‘One author who never fails to cause me to purchase a copy of AMAZING STORIES is Neil R. Jones, especially when he sticks to his favorite of the machine men and their eternal explorations with the redoubtable Professor Jameson. His work is sustained and lurid, never overdone, and leaves the reader with the feeling of sharing great adventures in excellent company. He has the gift of arousing an absorbing and peculiar interest in his subject.’—P.R.O.
- ‘Was I pleased to see another of the Professor Jameson stories. Since the first Professor Jameson story appeared in 1931, I have read them first in whatever issue they appeared. I have never been disappointed. Let’s have the list grow!’—O.E.S.
- ‘Any of Jones’ Professor Jameson stories are very interesting.’—C.H.
- ‘I experienced great delight in seeing Neil R. Jones back again with our dear metal friend, 21MM392.’—R.P.M.
- ‘ “Zora of the Zoromes” was super-super- super, etc. excellent.’—J.V.B.
- ‘I especially like stories of Professor Jameson by Mr. Neil R. Jones.’—V.M.F.
- ‘The stories that I have enjoyed most are the Professor Jameson stories by Neil Jones. I have yet to read an uninteresting story by Mr. Jones.’—A.Y.
- ‘The Professor Jameson stories are great. Please give us more.’—J.M.
- ‘Please give us some more of Professor Jameson and his Zoromes.’—J. McD.
- ‘ “Sunless World”. The mag was worth two-bits for that story alone. The first Professor Jameson story I have read, although I’ve heard of his fame for a long time. Here’s to many more stories like it.’—A.L.W.
- ‘The best science fiction story I have ever read was a Professor Jameson story called "Into the Hydrosphere" back in 1933.’—B.D.
- ‘I feel that I must write and congratulate Neil R. Jones upon his consistently entertaining and thought-provoking Professor Jameson series.’—J.R.F.
- ‘The adventures of Jameson and the Zoromes are among the best stories you have ever had.’—F.G.P.G.
- ‘This story took first prize. Please continue the Jameson Series’—E.C.
- ‘I would like to see a fresh adventure of Professor Jameson and the Zoromes every month.’—P.S.H.
- ‘All the Professor Jameson stories have been excellent. Keep them up.’—C.D.G.
- ‘All Neil R. Jones’ Jameson stories—excellent!’ —L.A.K.
- ‘The interest in these Professor Jameson stories, I think, is because they have plots that possess originality and characters that are different from the usual story. Mr. Jones has made you feel that you have gone through Professor Jameson’s adventures with him, and he becomes like a friend you have known. I’m sure the majority of readers will welcome him back in a new adventure.’
- ‘I hope Neil R. Jones’ Jameson stories go on forever—masterpieces, every one.’—R.T.
- ‘You have kept an unusually high standard and should be congratulated on authoring the longest series of science-fiction stories centered around a single character ever written.’—C.H.
THESE are some of the many comments in AMAZING STORIES. Every science fiction magazine ever published, has some time or other published letters containing reference to, and requests for, Professor Jameson. How do you fans and readers feel? Shall Professor Jameson lie buried forever? He was created for you—the reader—do you want him no longer?
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