If you want a taste of what Weird Tales readers found so alluring about ‘star’ author Edmond Hamilton, his “The Metal Giants” (Weird Tales, December 1926) is now a new one-hour reading on Librivox.

Lovecraft called the crowd-pleasing formula writer “indefatigable & repetitious” and he assured a correspondent that, if he were to enter the field of ‘interplanetary fiction’… “you may depend upon it that I shall not choose Edmond Hamilton [as a model]”. That said, in 1926 Lovecraft did admire his “The Monster-God of Mamurth” tale, and I recall that they met at some point and got on well. He was also surprised to find he liked the Hamilton tale “Child of the Winds” in the May 1936 Weird Tales (“Hamilton(!!)” he exclaimed in a letter).

While searching for the name, I found more evidence for the influence of Kipling’s seminal “With The Night Mail” on science-fiction…

“… an article in the February 1922 Science and Invention, ‘10,000 Years Hence’. Howard Brown provided a stunning illustration of floating health cities (like huge health farms) kept aloft in the upper atmosphere by power rays drawing their energy from the sun. Gernsback described how these cities could be directed to move around the Earth [keeping pace with the sun], a concept one might believe inspired two later noted works of science fiction, Edmond Hamilton’s “Cities in the Air” (1929) and James Blish’s Earthman, Come Home (1955), were it not that neither author knew of the article.”

The above is from the pulp/early SF survey book The Time Machines, Liverpool University Press, which does not mention Kipling even once.

Ah, but these authors would have known of Kipling, the obvious source for such ideas. The direct inspiration being drawn from “With The Night Mail” will be obvious to anyone who has read it. Kipling’s cloud-breakers + permanently aloft sun-powered airships = “Cities in the Air”. Kipling’s giant and ascending ‘consumptive’ hospital airships = hospital cities in the upper atmosphere.

Since the article and Hamilton’s “Cities in the Air” (much enjoyed by pulp readers of the time, it seems) are now public domain, they might even be overhauled and retro-fitted to fit with Kipling’s “With the Night Mail” / Aerial Board of Control universe. In fact, much else that was published in the 11 issues of Gernsback’s short-lived Air-Wonder Stories seems on the face of it to be fair game for such a thing.