The Writings of Charles R. Tanner

American Science Fiction Author

Active from 1930 to 1959

About Charles

Charles Roland Tanner Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 17, 1896 to Charles Roland Tanner Sr. and Anna Jane Tanner. At the age of 8, Charles’s father died.

Charley, as he liked to be known as at the time, was drafted into the Army in 1918, near the end of World War I and briefly served in France. He had previously served in the Navy.

Charles married Frances King in 1923 and remained married until his death in 1974. They had 3 children, Anne Marie in 1925, James in 1927 and Robert in 1938. One of the great tragedies of his life came five days before Christmas 1934 when Anne Marie died from appendicitis.

In November 1929, Charles entered a contest for Science Wonder Stories with a short story called “The Color of Space”. He won the first prize which was having his story published and $150. This story was appeared in the March 1930 issue of Science Wonder Stories.

During his lifetime, Charles had 17 short stories and 1 poem published. He also had one story, Tumithak and the Ancient Word, published posthumously. In addition, Charles wrote an additional 8 short stories and one novel that were not published. The bulk of his writing came between 1930 and 1952. His last published new writing was a poem based on the book, The Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This was published in Fantastic Stories in August 1968.

Charles worked many years as a Color Technician for the Formica Corporation. He retired in 1961 and moved to California with his wife Frances and son Robert.

Charles lived the remainder of his life in Torrance, California in a home next to his oldest son, James.

Charles died on January 9, 1974 at the age of 77. He is buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery next to his wife Frances.

A Word From Charles

"Back about 1905, a little chap about nine was browsing among a pile of books and magazines which had been left by his recently deceased grandfather. There were Strand Magazines, and Cosmopolitans, and Argosies, and every one had some sort of science-fiction story in it. There was “The First Men on the Moon,” by H. G. Wells; “A Round Trip to the Year 2000,” by William Wallace Cook; and I don’t know how many others. All day long, that little chap lay on his belly, surrounded by magazines, and read, and marveled, and wondered. The next day, little Charley Tan­ner went to the library and looked and looked, and went home with a book called Starland by Robert Ball. Another sci­ence fiction fan was born.

From that day to this, I’ve read science-fiction wherever and whenever I’ve found it. First, I found it only in the old Munsey publications; then one day, in a drug store, I picked up a mag­azine called The Electric Experimenter in which there was a story called “The New Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” From then on, I was sold on that magazine. I started reading All-Story because it printed a story named “Under the Moons of Mars” by Norman Bean. Norman Bean is Edgar Rice Bur­roughs now, but I still read his Martian stories with interest, in fact, I just laid one down to write this article.

I started reading Cavalier when it published “The Second Deluge” by Garrett P. Serviss. And I remember sitting on a dock in New York, waiting with my company to go to, France, and reading the second part of “Palos of ‘Dog Star Pack,” by J. U. Giesy.

Having made the world safe for, I returned home to find, during the next years, that science-fiction was all too scarce. And then came the day when I saw, with a delight that I can hardly express, that a new magazine was about to appear, a magazine devoted entirely to science-fiction. Only those old fans who have followed the course of this magazine from the be ginning can imagine the impatience with which I awaited, and the thrill with which I read, that first copy, that April, 1926, edition of Amazing Stories.

In a few years there were two magazines — then three. And one day one of the magazines offered a prize contest, and I won first prize! I was an author! I could write! I sat down and began to write anything and everything, in the firm belief that I was going to be rich in about three months. But alas, it didn’t work out quite that way. I had concentrated so much on the reading of science-fiction that the only thing I could write really well was that form of story. So I began to specialize.

Thus it came about that I wrote my most successful stories to date — “Tumithak of the Corridors” and its sequel. I’m still proud of that story and of the fact that after eight years, the old readers of AMAZING Stories still remember it and occasionally mention it in their letters.

But, beginning in 1933, a series of misfortunes too long to be recounted here made me abandon writing for several years. Just when I believed that I was done for good, a letter came from Amazing Stories requesting a story for their first issue under the banner of Ziff Davis. Dubiously, and yet with hope in my heart, I wrote “The Vanishing Diamonds,” in which I introduced a character which I still think is the best I’ve conceived, to date — Professor Isaac N. Stillwell.

Even the thrill of selling my first story was nothing to the thrill of the Chicago Convention. For the first time, I met fans that I had known of for years; for the first time, I met authors whom I had admired for ages; for the first time, I talked with the editor of my favorite magazine — and sold him a story!

And when it was all over, I went back to my home in Cincinnati, and sat down at my typewriter - and I've practically been there ever since. I hope this enthusiasm keeps up, for if it does; you’ll be hearing from me again, I assure you."

-Charles R. Tanner

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