The Short Stories of Paul Ernst
The American fantasy and pulp writer Paul Frederick Ernst was born in 1899 in West Peoria, Illinois. There has been occasional confusion around his name as there were two other notable authors, one German and one American, both publishing under the name Paul Ernst in the first half of the 20th century. Ernst also frequently used pseudonyms or “house” names (transferrable author names attached to a publishing house or magazine, a common practice in the early 20th century). Nonetheless, Ernst is considered a fine writer and a solid member of the pioneers of sci-fi and alternative fiction club. Not much is known about Ernst’s early days and education but he was first published in 1928 in the seminal pulp magazine Weird Tales. The Temple of Serpents is a short but gripping cautionary tale of dimensional travel by means of a sculpture with wish-granting properties. Ernst was only in his early twenties at the time of its publication. Ernst’s biggest claim to fame is writing the bulk of The Avengers series of novel-length sci-fi and adventure stories between 1939 and 1942. Ernst wrote 24 of these tales for a magazine also called The Avenger under the Street and Smith publishing house pseudonym “Kenneth Robeson”. Ernst was followed by the legendary pulp writer Ron Goulart on the series (also writing as Robeson), which featured a super-hero, The Avenger, battling a variety of villains. According to pulp and comic book authority Don Hutchison writing in the 1996 text, The Great Pulp Heroes, the character "can perhaps be considered the last of the great pulp heroes." Ernst is also remembered for his work on the Doctor Satan series for Weird Tales, which ran for a year between 1935 and 1936. These so-called “villain pulps” featured the evil Doc Satan, usually pitted against a wealthy occult detective named August Keane and his secretary Betty Dale. Ernst’s career in alternative fiction petered out by the ‘40s as the market for pulp fiction dried up and general attention turned towards World War II. Ernst continued to write for mainstream magazines such as Good Housekeeping however, and was publishing journalism and short stories until his death in 1983 in Zephyr, Florida.
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