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Harry Bates was born Hiram Gilmore Bates III on October 9th, 1900 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His career began with working for William Clayton, a publisher of pulp magazines in the 1920’s. Clayton had later proposed starting an adventure magazine but Bates countered with several alternates. The result was the seminal magazine Astounding Science Fiction.
Bates however had no particular interest in science fiction believing them to be poorly written and lacking in imagination. However, a job was a job, and despite his misgivings about the genre, Bates took the helm as editor of Astounding Stories from its inception in January 1930 and throughout its short life until it ceased publication in March 1933 with Clayton’s bankruptcy.
Bates, obviously a man and writer of many talents also edited other Clayton magazines included Strange Tales, which was put out to compete with Weird Tales. Bates later wrote "Amazing Stories! Once I had bought a copy. What awful stuff I'd found it! Cluttered with trivia! Packed with puerilities. Written by unimaginables! But now at the memory I wondered if there might be a market for a well-written magazine on the Amazing themes." Bates wrote that the "science fiction of the early writers had little relation to science of the scientists." What science fiction writers did was to "extrapolate" and not "relate" because "almost all of what is called science fiction is fantasy and nothing else but." Clayton was a major figure in pulp publishing but his business practices, one of which was to pay way over the odds for stories to snatch them from his rivals, meant his business model carried too much overhead and would at some point fall to Earth. And it did. Spectacularly. As a writer Bates usually took the monikers Anthony Gilmore or H.G. Winter, and together with his assistant, Desmond Winter Hall, wrote the "Hawk Carse" series. Bate’s most famous story was "Farewell to the Master", which was the basis for the classic science fiction film from 1951; The Day the Earth Stood Still. Of the Hawk Carse series Bates said "From the beginning I had been bothered by the seeming inability of my writers to mix convincing character with our not-too-convincing science; so after nearly two years, with the double hope of furnishing the writers an example of a vivid hero and villain and my readers a whopping hero versus villain, I generated the first Hawk Carse story." Two novellas by Bates appeared in Science-Fiction Plus, then edited by Sam Moskowitz. "The Death of a Sensitive" (May, 1953) was ranked by Moskowitz as the best story he ever published but he wanted "The Triggered Dimension" (December 1953) revised. Bates was unhappy but agreed. Moskowitz had begun teaching the first college course on science fiction at City College.
Bates agreed to speak as a guest lecturer for the first class. Bates never showed. He had made his point about the revisions. Moskovitz was embarrassed but said that “Seven years later, I received a letter from Harry Bates dated October 2, 1960. In essence, it revealed that Bates was now totally disabled due to progressive arthritis and was trying to get early Social Security at 60. He had a doctor's statement that he was suffering from that condition at present, but they wanted proof that it was progressive and prevented him from writing stories for income. He asked if I would be willing to supply a statement that he had written stories for me with the greatest difficulty. It so happened that he had shown me his swollen knuckles in 1953, but beyond that, I had a letter from him describing the difficulty, written earlier that year. I mailed him back the letter, for which I still had the dated envelope, and he got his Social Security—his only income for the next 20 years! Christmas of 1962 I received a card from him on which he scrawled: ‘I ain't mad at you no more.’” Harry Bates died in September, 1981, at the age of 80.
Publisher: Copyright Group