The usual sources, Wikipedia and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, offer little in the way of biographical data on Mari Wolf. She was born August 27, 1927. She wrote a column called “Fandora’s Box” for the magazine Imagination from the April 1951 issue until April of 1956 at which time it was taken over by Robert Bloch. She wrote a number of short stories in the early 50’s, seven according to the ISFDB, and one novel, The Golden Frame that was published in 1961.
Her name does crop up in the reminiscences of various people about the West Coast fan scene at the time, usually in the form of “Mari Wolf introduced my to X at convention Y”. She seems to have been well known and liked by both fellow fans and authors. She is described as an attractive young woman in her twenties, a fact that is born out by a photo of her from the period. Other details are pretty sketchy at best. Before she was married she lived with her parents in Laguna Beach, CA. She was married for a time to fellow fan columnist and author Roger Phillips Graham whom she met at a science fiction convention. Apparently the marriage only lasted a few years. There is a comment about her working as a wind tunnel designer, and a reference to her appearing in an article on amateur rocketry in Look magazine. The information paints a tantalizing but fragmentary portrait of an attractive, intelligent woman in her twenties.
What does remain is her work, the seven stories that have been collected in this volume. There is also a novel published in 1961, The Golden Frame of which I know nothing beyond the fact of its existence. While other works may exist, I have been unable to find any evidence of them.
The stories, themselves, are well written and deal with the typical topics of science fiction from the period, aliens planning to invade Earth, Martian colonists, time traveling spaceships, rebellious robots, but treated with a gentler touch than was usual at the time. There is a sentimentality to “The Statue” and “The First Day of Spring” that would do Bradbury proud, while “Robots of the World!”, “The House on the Vacant Lot”, and “The Very Secret Agent”show a sense of humor. The other two stories collected here, “An Empty Bottle” and “Homo Inferior” are more philosophical in nature, pondering respectively the origin of life and the results of the next step in human evolution. All in all, they are not a bad body of work to be remembered by.
As good a writer as she was, and with the contacts that she had made through her fan activities, it’s surprising that there isn’t a larger body of work, but, for whatever reason, she doesn’t appear to have published a short story after 1954. Perhaps she became involved in other pursuits. In any case, Resurrected Press offers these examples of her work for your consideration. Order the book here!