In the 1930s, there were no video games, no pen-and-paper RPGs and no Star Wars. If you wanted to experience interplanetary adventure and romance, your only option was pulp sci-fi. For libidinous gentleman, the magazine of choice was Planet Stories; a salaciously illustrated anthology filled with strange worlds, gung-ho heroes and scantily-clad alien babes. It was prurient space trash from a more innocent era, and it was awesome.
Planet Stories was published between 1939 and 1955 by the comic book/pulp fiction outfit Fiction House. Alongside its fabulously lurid covers, the magazine is best known for giving Philip K. Dick his first story sale in 1952 (for the telepathic Martian pig tale Beyond Lies the Wub). It also published works by Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak and Ray Bradbury. But by and large, it attracted less prestigious contributors whose derivative stories rarely lived up to the sumptuous interior artwork.
The covers tended to emphasis sex, with pinup-style astrobabes and space princesses embroiled in scenes of derring-do and peril. Covers were painted by a rotating roster of artists including Allen Anderson, Kelly Freas and Alexander Leydenfrost.
At the time of publication, the sexual content contained in Planet Stories was considered risque and explicit. By today's standards, it is almost comically tame. Planet Stories seems antiquated now, but it helped to kickstart a science-fiction boom that is still going strong today. Without it and its contemporaries, we may never have got a Mass Effect. Here are some of the newstand covers that caught working Joes in their tractor beams through the '40s and '50s.
[Via Cover Browser]