Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

Galactic Central & the FictionMags Index

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 21, 2017 in Commentary, References, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Galactic Central & the FictionMags Index

'The Hero Pulp Index'While I was an early science-fiction fan (including pulp sf), I also got into comic books as a kid, and later started to collect them. A resource I started to obtain was the annual Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The first edition I got was #9 from 1979, after seeing #8 in a bookstore. But here was the thing.

I didn’t care about comic book prices. Never did.

I got Overstreet for all the other information it had that I needed as a collector. When did a title start and end? What titles got renamed or merged? How many issues did it have? What issues of a title had certain backup series? Where did certain backup series go from one title to another? Which ones had certain creators work on? And so on.

When I got into reading pulp heroes, this sort of information was missing. Or at least for me in those early pre-Internet days, was hard to find. I was oblivious to the world of fandom at the time. I only later learned about stuff like The Hero Pulp Index. So as I focused on pulp heroes, it was hard to know how many stories a particular character had. Did this serial character run for four stories or six?

Several years later I got a copy of The Adventure House Guide to Pulps (2000). But for me, this was kind of “half” what I wanted. It had the info on titles and how many issues and who was the publisher, but nothing about what was in the titles. Oh, I heard about published indexes out there, but they were all out of my reach. I have found a few online indexes of pulp heroes (one at Altus Press‘s website, some at Age of Aces, and a good reprint list at Pulp Coming Attractions), but I’ve also found they are often incomplete.

I’d hear about a serialized character and want to know how many stories and such where in the series and wouldn’t be able to find an index online. Back in the days of the alt.pulp Usenet group, I and another fan created a series of pulp hero indexes that I now realize were incomplete. We missed several characters I only later learned about like The Skipper and Jim Anthony, and totally left out many of the serial characters in Crime Busters and Flying Aces. I’ve added to and kept up-to-date those indexes for my own use, and still find out I have missed many minor ones.

Another thing was as a pulp fan, I rarely got to see the covers of pulp magazines, other than what I would see shown in my various history of science-fiction books. It would be years after I started reading and collecting Doc Savage that I got to see what the cover art on those pulps looked like.

A screenshot of the Galactic Central home page.Thankfully there is an online resource that addresses this, though I think there are many pulp fans out there unaware. This is Galactic Central, which is run by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

At the top are the magazine indexes. I usually go into the Pulp Index, though sometimes the All Magazines one, as that has stuff like the various pulp fanzines. Here you will get a list of magazines, with info on publication dates, publishers, and index of issues with cover scans. This has finally enabled me to see the covers of many pulp magazines.

But wait, there’s more! In addition is the FictionMags Index, which indexes most (though not all) of the magazine contents. You can access the Index directly, though I prefer to go through the magazine index, then go to the FictionMags index for that magazine that way. The Index tells me the cover artist and the contents of the magazine: the various works of fiction, their title, author, length (short story, novelette, novella, or novel), and if it’s part of a series, what series.

Now, there are gaps. There are covers that are missing. There are issues that have not been indexed. I found that a lot of Flying Aces hasn’t been indexed, which is disappointing considering all the serialized characters that ran in that pulp. And I’ve stumbled onto a few others also missing complete info. Hopefully people will contribute missing information.

But it is there. So if you haven’t checked out Galactic Central and the FictionMags Index, do so today!


  1. This is a treasure that I cherish. I use it so much it is hard to count how often I use this for research . When I began to collect pulps there was pretty much nothing except for The Hero Pulp Index and not being much interested in the Hero Pulps it was not of much use to me.

  2. Almost forgot to mention that whenever I find a pulp that Phil Stephensen-Payne does not have I send him a copy of the image plus a photo of the contents page.

  3. Like Barry, I’ve been submitting info to Phil and Bill Contento for nearly two decades. I don’t recall how long FictionMags has been around, but I know it’s been an invaluable resource, as are the assorted CD-ROMs Bill sells that contain sometimes further details or pulps, not yet released onto the site. By now, though, I’d like to believe all of those assorted CD-ROMs have migrated onto the website. There are indeed tons of pulps yet to be indexed, and most criminally of all are the greedy researchers that hoard data for profiteering purposes. I refer to certain foreign persons, whom I shall not name. They know who they are. And Phil, being mentally of the opposite mental spectrum, provides a damn good service, freely, which itself is a sad fact. If the ancient fandom transatlantic fan fund still operated to code, he ought to receive a compensatory reward for his years of dedication within fandom, which, as a word, as a group, once having held “meaning,” is long since dead, and is only etched in the stone tablets known as fanzines, the greatest fan record of all time.

  4. Michael, you mention “gaps” in the fictionmags index. Well there are many but they are closing every year. Last year all the major cd-r indexes mentioned by Morgan were incorporated into the site. There should be another major update in the next month or so. I do believe a lot of aviation pulps will be added in this update, though i could be mistaken. Best way to fill in those gaps is by contributing data to Phil yourself. If you have unearthed some detail, however minor, send it to Phil. Something as ‘insignificant’ as discovering a reprinted story in a later pulp and the original appearance of said story, I send it to him and it gets added during the annual update.

    • My note of the “gaps” was in hopes that other readers who have original pulps could add in.

      I don’t collect pulps myself, so the only info I could add would be based on what is reprinted in book collections.

      I did find that a lot of info on “Flying Aces” was missing, along with “The Whisperer”.