The final installment of When Worlds Collide by Phillip Wylie and Edwin Balmer ran in the January 1933 issue of Blue Book Magazine.
The Editor’s introductory column does not appear in this issue so there is no advance praise for the novel this time, but there are a lot more illustrations for this final installment, 12 in all. That matches the number of illustrations in the opening installment but when you consider the relative sizes of the pictures this is the most heavily illustrated section of the novel. A number of the illustrations are combined into stunning two-page or three-column spreads.
The layout of the initial two pages is interesting in that it not only evokes an upward journey away from the earth, foreshadowing the trip to Bronson Beta, but it uses the placement of the images to emphasize that motion. It also drives home the notion of a Space Ark.
The sweeping upward motion of the opening images is echoed here as the ship departs Earth. As earthbound creatures inhabit the lower-left portion of that previous image, the ultimate destination of Bronson Beta is featured in the upper-right here alongside its primary Bronson Alpha.
In one of the most dramatic images from the novel, travelers in the rocket ship look on as Bronson Alpha collides with Earth, destroying both.
The culminating image is reminiscent of Apollo 11 as Tony descends from the ship to become the first human on Bronson Beta.
Dawn breaks over a new world in the final image as a metaphorical Adam and Eve look on.
There’s no preview of course, but After Worlds Collide starts in just nine months!
As in the last issue, the editor didn’t single out this novel for special praise, it’s an example of the theme among many. The point though remains complementary,
“Writing,” observed an acute commentator, “is not literature unless it gives to the reader a pleasure which arises not only from the things said, but from the way in which they are said; and that pleasure is only given when the words are carefully or curiously or beautifully put together.” In the choice of material for this magazine we are governed first by what is said: by the power and pace and originality of the story; by the reality and human appeal of the people in it; by the interest of its background. But we must also be governed by the manner in which a story is told; for our readers are entitled to the best in this respect also.
Consider… “When Worlds Collide” —a daring idea, set forth with purpose and conviction; people who are real and deserving of your friendship; added to these, a fine quality in the telling that makes it a novel among a thousand.
The Editor of Blue Book
Here are the illustrations. The layout of the initial two pages is different once again.
Here’s a closer look at the opening image.
This installment has only a single two-page spread.
The final image, below, looks distinctly different from the rest of the illustrations. Could this be a different artist? What do you think?
The editor doesn’t feature the novel in his editorial so prominently this time. Perhaps that’s natural; we’re past the halfway point. It nonetheless figured into his overall theme.
It is interesting to observe, as one reads the magazine through, how fiction reflects the fact that thought is indeed the seed of action…
In that much-discussed novel “When Worlds Collide,” where the “survival of the fittest” theory is invoked to make possible the escape of a few from what seems universal catastrophe. And elsewhere… it is the conflict of ideas no less than the collision of facts that provokes the swift dramatic action essential to a good story.
The Editor of Blue Book
Here are the illustrations. The layout of the initial two pages is different this time.
Let’s take a better look at those images. Unfortunately. the scan is a bit muddy.
The fourth and fifth images combine into a dramatic two-page spread.
The final two images also combine over two pages to depict another intense confrontation.
The author fancies himself an expert on Soviet Russia and maybe he was. In a letter published in the same issue he said the following.
It is certain that, about Russia, the truths of today are not the truths of tomorrow. If you ask me if the Five-Year Plan is to succeed, I answer, “I don’t know.” … They have reached about the sixteenth century in the calendar of civilization, except for the airplanes and things they play about with. And, at their head are a number of white-hot enthusiasts whose ideas project, perhaps, a century ahead of now. Add to that a police system (inherited and hotted-up from the old Czarist days) of which Torquemada might have been proud to be the head – and something worth writing a story about is bound to happen.
J. Andrew Wood
It’s not clear if this novel was ever published in book form, but it is clear that it had some wonderful illustrations.
The magazine is still enthusiastic about the novel. Here’s what they had to say about it this issue.
Not many stories, of course, can give you all or even most of these things. Yet now and then some special achievement really does this. Consider in this light, for instance, “When Worlds Collide,” by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie: it offers you new ideas to think about, new facts to know, interesting people—and in the climax a place fire-new indeed to visit!
Despite being considered one of the all-time greatest mystery writers, Dashiell Hammett wrote only five novels. The most famous, of course, is the Maltese Falcon, in part because of the film noir masterpiece starring Humphrey Bogart.
His final novel, The Thin Man is as successful in its own way. It was adapted into a film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1934. That film was followed by five sequels and a television series that aired 72 episodes between 1957 and 1959.
But The Thin Man started life as a Redbook Novel in December 1933, illustrated, of course, by Joseph Franké. The Redbook novels look a lot different from their Blue Book counterparts. These consist of a title page with a small picture, one full-page illustration, and a number of small vignettes scattered throughout the story.
Here we go, for as the title page tells us, “As hard-boiled and thrilling a murder-shocker as you’ve ever read — written by a man who was once a Pinkerton detective, and knows more about real murder than any other living writer!”
Here are the illustrations from the second part of When Worlds Collide by Phillip Wylie and Edwin Balmer as published in Blue Book Magazine, October 1932.
From the editor:
The astronomer is your only successful prophet: He predicts an eclipse of the sun on a certain day, a certain hour—and lo, on that certain day and hour the eclipse occurs! It is for this reason, among others, that “When Worlds Collide” has a special fascination: it is based on man’s one real achievement in the tempting art of prophecy.
The rest of our prophets lack inspiration, apparently, or they venture to deal with the unpredictable. One thing only are they safe in predicting: change—change in knowledge, in science, in government, in human viewpoint if not in human nature. And it is because of this, of course, that each month a magazine can give you stories essentially new, even though a thousand stories based on the same theme have been written before.
The Editor of Blue Book
If you’d like to see the illustrations in context and read the story you can do that here:
Here are the illustrations from the first part of When Worlds Collide by Phillip Wylie and Edwin Balmer as published in Blue Book Magazine, September 1932.
Immense gratitude is owed to Archive.org which is an extensive online library with a virtual treasure trove of content. This website wouldn’t be nearly as robust without it. For example, I had not seen any of the art in this issue before it was finally published on that site. I first wrote about Archive.org here.
Blue Book was enthusiastic about When Worlds Collide, saying this in their introductory editorial.
In this issue, for example, appears one of the most remarkable novels any magazine has printed in years—“When Worlds Collide,” the collaboration of two of America’s best writers: Edwin Balmer, who wrote “Dangerous Business” and “That Royle Girl;” and Philip Wylie, author of “The Wild Wallaces.” You have a real novelty awaiting you on Page 6 of this issue.
The Editor of Blue Book
In that editorial, they also talked about changing the format of the magazine so that they could reduce the price in response to the Great Depression.
If you’d like to see the illustrations in context, and read the story for that matter, follow this link.