A science fiction magazine is a publication that offers primarily science fiction, either in a hard copy periodical format or on the Internet.
Science fiction magazines traditionally featured speculative fiction in short story, novelette, novella or (usually serialized) novel form, a format that continues into the present day. Many also contain editorials, book reviews or articles, and some also include stories in the fantasy and horror genres.
Malcolm Edwards and Peter Nicholls write that early magazines were not known as science fiction: "if there were any need to differentiate them, the terms scientific romance or 'different stories' might be used, but until the appearance of a magazine specifically devoted to sf there was no need of a label to describe the category. The first specialized English-language pulps with a leaning towards the fantastic were Thrill Book (1919) and Weird Tales (1923), but the editorial policy of both was aimed much more towards weird-occult fiction than towards sf."
Major American science fiction magazines include Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. The most influential British science fiction magazine was New Worlds; newer British SF magazines include Interzone and Polluto. Many science fiction magazines have been published in languages other than English, but none has gained worldwide recognition or influence in the world of anglophone science fiction.
There is a growing trend toward important work being published first on the Internet, both for reasons of economics and access. A web-only publication can cost as little as one-tenth of the cost of publishing a print magazine, and as a result, some believe the e-zines are more innovative and take greater risks with material. Moreover, the magazine is internationally accessible, and distribution is not an issue – though obscurity may be. Magazines like Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Jim Baen's Universe, and the Australian magazine Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine are examples of successful Internet magazines. (Andromeda provides copies electronically or on paper.)
Web-based magazines tend to favor shorter stories and articles that are easily read on a screen, and many of them pay little or nothing to the authors, thus limiting their universe of contributors. However, the following web-based magazines are listed as "paying markets" by the SFWA, which means that they pay the "professional" rate of 5c/word or more: Strange Horizons, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Jim Baen's Universe, Clarkesworld Magazine and ChiZine.
The World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) awarded a Hugo Award each year to the best science fiction magazine, until that award was changed to one for Best Editor in the early 1970s; the Best Semi-Professional Magazine award can go to either a news-oriented magazine or a small press fiction magazine.
Magazines were the only way to publish science fiction until about 1950, when large mainstream publishers began issuing science fiction books. Today, there are relatively few paper-based science fiction magazines, and most printed science fiction appears first in book form. Science fiction magazines began in the United States, but there were several major British magazines and science fiction magazines that have been published around the world, for example in France and Argentina.
The first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, was published in a format known as bedsheet, roughly the size of Life but with a square spine. Later, most magazines changed to the pulp magazine format, roughly the size of comic books or National Geographic but again with a square spine. Now, most magazines are published in digest format, roughly the size of Reader's Digest, although a few are in the standard roughly 8.5" x 11" size, and often have stapled spines, rather than glued square spines. Science fiction magazines in this format often feature non-fiction media coverage in addition to the fiction. Knowledge of these formats is an asset when locating magazines in libraries and collections where magazines are usually shelved according to size.
The premiere issue of Amazing Stories (April 1926), edited and published by Hugo Gernsback, displayed a cover by Frank R. Paul illustrating Off on a Comet by Jules Verne. After many minor changes in title and major changes in format, policy and publisher, Amazing Stories ended January 2005 after 607 issues.
Except for the last issue of Stirring Science Stories, the last true bedsheet size sf (and fantasy) magazine was Fantastic Adventures, in 1939, but it quickly changed to the pulp size, and it was later absorbed by its digest-sized stablemate Fantastic in 1953. Before that consolidation, it ran 128 issues.
Much fiction published in these bedsheet magazines, except for classic reprints by writers such as H. G. Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, is only of antiquarian interest. Some of it was written by teenage science fiction fans, who were paid little or nothing for their efforts. Jack Williamson for example, was 19 when he sold his first story to Amazing Stories. His writing improved greatly over time, and until his death in 2006, he was still a publishing writer at age 98.
Some of the stories in the early issues were by scientists or doctors who knew little or nothing about writing fiction, but who tried their best, for example, Dr. David H. Keller. Probably the two best original sf stories ever published in a bedsheet science fiction magazine were "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum and "The Gostak and the Doshes" by Dr. Miles Breuer, who influenced Jack Williamson. "The Gostak and the Doshes" is one of the few stories from that era still widely read today. Other stories of interest from the bedsheet magazines include the first Buck Rogers story. Armageddon 2419 A.D, by Philip Francis Nowlan and The Skylark of Space by E. E. Smith and Mrs. Lee Hawkins Garby, both in Amazing Stories in 1928.
There have been a few unsuccessful attempts to revive the bedsheet size using better quality paper, notably Science-Fiction Plus edited by Hugo Gernsback (1952–53, eight issues). Astounding on two occasions briefly attempted to revive the bedsheet size, with 16 bedsheet issues in 1942–1943 and 25 bedsheet issues (as Analog, including the first publication of Frank Herbert's Dune) in 1963–1965. The fantasy magazine Unknown, also edited by John W. Campbell, changed its name to Unknown Worlds and published ten bedsheet-size issues before returning to pulp size for its final four issues. Amazing Stories published 36 bedsheet size issues in 1991–1999, and its last three issues were bedsheet size, 2004–2005.
Astounding Stories began in January 1930. After several changes in name and format (Astounding Science Fiction, Analog Science Fact & Fiction, Analog) it is still published today (though it ceased to be pulp format in 1943). Its most important editor, John W. Campbell, Jr., is credited with turning science fiction away from adventure stories on alien planets and toward well-written, scientifically literate stories with better characterization than in previous pulp science fiction. Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and Robert A. Heinlein's Future History in the 1940s, Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity in the 1950s, and Frank Herbert's Dune in the 1960s, and many other science fiction classics all first appeared under Campbell's editorship.
By 1955, the pulp era was over, and some pulp magazines changed to digest size. Printed adventure stories with colorful heroes were relegated to the comic books. This same period saw the end of radio adventure drama (in the United States). Later attempts to revive both pulp fiction and radio adventure have met with very limited success, but both enjoy a nostalgic following who collect the old magazines and radio programs. Many characters, most notably The Shadow, were popular both in pulp magazines and on radio.
Most pulp science fiction consisted of adventure stories transplanted, without much thought, to alien planets. Much was so badly written that even today science fiction still carries a slight whiff of its pulp heritage. The familiar image of pulp science fiction is a beautiful, scantily clad, large-breasted woman being carried off by a bug-eyed monster, but there were many classic stories first published in pulp magazines. In 1939, a groundbreaking year, all of the following writers sold their first professional sf story to the pulps: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, A. E. van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon. These were among the most important science fiction writers of the pulp era, and all are still read today.
After the pulp era, digest size magazines dominated the newsstand. The first sf magazine to change to digest size was Astounding, in 1943. Other major digests, which published more literary science fiction, were The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction and If. Under the editorship of Cele Goldsmith, Amazing and Fantastic changed from pulp style adventure stories to literary science fiction. Goldsmith published the first professionally published stories by Roger Zelazny (not counting student fiction in Literary Cavalcade), Keith Laumer, Thomas M. Disch, Sonya Dorman and Ursula K. Le Guin.
There was also no shortage of digests that continued the pulp tradition of hastily written adventure stories set on other planets. Other Worlds and Imaginative Tales had no literary pretensions. The major pulp writers, such as Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, continued to write for the digests, and a new generation of writers, such as Algis Budrys and Walter M. Miller, Jr., sold their most famous stories to the digests. A Canticle for Leibowitz was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Most digest magazines began in the 1950s, in the years between the film Destination Moon, the first major science fiction film in a decade, and the launching of Sputnik, which sparked a new interest in space travel as a real possibility. Most survived only a few issues. By 1960, in the United States, there were only six sf digests on newsstands, in 1970 there were seven, in 1980 there were five, in 1990 only four and in 2000 only three.
The first British science fiction magazine was Tales of Wonder, pulp size, 1937–1942, 16 issues, (unless you count Scoops, a tabloid boys' paper that published 20 weekly issues in 1934). It was followed by two magazines, both named Fantasy, one pulp size publishing three issues in 1938–1939, the other digest size, publishing three issues in 1946–1947. The most important British sf magazine, New Worlds, published three pulp size issues in 1946–1947, before changing to digest size. With these exceptions, the pulp phenomenon, like the comic book, was largely a US format. By 2007, the only surviving major British science fiction magazine is Interzone, published in "magazine" format, although small press titles such as PostScripts and Polluto are available.
During recent decades, the circulation of all digest science fiction magazines has steadily decreased. New formats were attempted, most notably the slick-paper stapled magazine format, the paperback format and the webzine. There are also various semi-professional magazines which persist on sales of a few thousand copies but often publish important fiction.
As the circulation of the traditional US science fiction magazines has declined, new magazines have sprung up online from international small-press publishers. An editor on the staff of Science Fiction World, China's longest-running science fiction magazine, claimed in 2009 that, with "a circulation of 300,000 copies per issue," it was "the World's most-read SF periodical," although subsequent news suggests that circulation dropped precipitously after the firing of its chief editor in 2010 and the departure of other editors. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America lists science fiction periodicals that pay enough to be considered professional markets.
Digest size magazine. 1 undated issue, cJuly 1966, published and ed[ited by] Charles Partington and Harry Nadler, some colour illustrations, stories by Kenneth Bulmer, J.R. (Ramsey) Campbell and Harry Harrison; articles on film were also included. AW grew from the fanzine Alien (16 issues, 1963-6), which had also published stories and film articles. Its publishers lacked the distribution strength to make it work as a professional magazine.
Several sources give updates on the state of science fiction magazines. Gardner Dozois presents a summary of the state of magazines in the introduction to the annual The Year's Best Science Fiction volume. Locus lists the circulation and discusses the status of pro and semi-pro SF magazines in their February year-in-review issue, and runs periodic summaries of non-US science fiction.
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science-fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A.E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
By 1950, new competition had appeared from Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Campbell's interest in some pseudo-science topics, such as dianetics (an early version of scientology), alienated some of his regular writers, and Astounding was no longer regarded as the leader of the field, though it did continue to publish popular and influential stories: Hal Clement's novel Mission of Gravity appeared in 1953, and Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" appeared the following year. In 1960, Campbell changed the title of the magazine to Analog Science Fiction & Fact; he had long wanted to get rid of the word "Astounding" in the title, which he felt was too sensational. At about the same time Street & Smith sold the magazine to Condé Nast. Campbell remained as editor until his death in 1971.
Ben Bova took over from 1972 to 1978, and the character of the magazine changed noticeably, since Bova was willing to publish fiction that included sexual content and profanity. Bova published stories such as Frederik Pohl's "The Gold at the Starbow's End", which was nominated for both a Hugo and Nebula Award, and Joe Haldeman's "Hero", the first story in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning "Forever War" sequence; Pohl had been unable to sell to Campbell, and "Hero" had been rejected by Campbell as unsuitable for the magazine. Bova won five consecutive Hugo Awards for his editing of Analog.
Bova was followed by Stanley Schmidt, who continued to publish many of the same authors who had been contributing for years; the result was some criticism of the magazine as stagnant and dull, though Schmidt was initially successful in maintaining circulation. The title was sold to Davis Publications in 1980, then to Dell Magazines in 1992. Crosstown Publications acquired Dell in 1996 and remains the publisher. Schmidt continued to edit the magazine until 2012, when he was replaced by Trevor Quachri.Asimov's Science Fiction
Asimov's Science Fiction (ISSN 1065-2698) is an American science fiction magazine which publishes science fiction and fantasy named after science fiction author Isaac Asimov. It is currently published by Penny Publications. From January 2017, the publication frequency is bimonthly (six issues per year).Circulation in 2012 was 22,593, as reported in the annual Locus magazine survey.Azazel (Asimov)
Azazel is a character created by Isaac Asimov and featured in a series of fantasy short stories. Azazel is a two-centimeter-tall demon (or extraterrestrial), named after the Biblical demon.
Some of these stories were collected in Azazel, first published in 1988. The stories take the form of conversations between an unnamed writer (whom Asimov identifies in the collection introduction as himself) and a shiftless friend named George (named in "The Two-Centimeter Demon" as George Bitternut). At these meetings George tells how he is able to conjure up Azazel and their adventures together. George's greatest goal in life is a free lunch (or dinner, or ride, etc.), but Azazel is constrained so that he cannot directly benefit George. George can only call upon Azazel for favors to various friends, which invariably go awry. The stories' theme about a demon or alien that grants wishes echoes an earlier work by Lester del Rey, titled "No Strings Attached" from 1954.
"Getting Even" (1980) was the first story featuring Azazel, and was also the first "Union Club Mystery". Asimov stated that this story was omitted from both The Union Club Mysteries (1983) and the Azazel collection because it did not match the later stories in either series. However, it does appear in another anthology, Tales from the Spaceport Bar."Perfectly Formal" (1991) was a story within a story, purportedly written by a robot called Cal. It appeared in a story (also called "Cal") about a robot who learns to write stories. "Cal" appeared in the collection Gold.Fantastic Universe
Fantastic Universe was a U.S. science fiction magazine which began publishing in the 1950s. It ran for 69 issues, from June 1953 to March 1960, under two different publishers. It was part of the explosion of science fiction magazine publishing in the 1950s in the United States, and was moderately successful, outlasting almost all of its competitors. The main editors were Leo Margulies (1954–1956) and Hans Stefan Santesson (1956–1960); under Santesson's tenure the quality declined somewhat, and the magazine became known for printing much UFO-related material. A collection of stories from the magazine, edited by Santesson, appeared in 1960 from Prentice-Hall, titled The Fantastic Universe Omnibus.Fantasy fiction magazine
A fantasy fiction magazine or fantasy magazine is a magazine which publishes primarily fantasy fiction. Not generally included in the category are magazines for children with stories about such characters as Santa Claus. Also not included are adult magazines about sexual fantasy. Many fantasy magazines, in addition to fiction, have other features such as art, cartoons, reviews, or letters from readers. Some fantasy magazines also publish science fiction and horror fiction, so that here is not always a clear distinction between a fantasy magazine and a science fiction magazine. For example, Fantastic magazine published almost exclusively science fiction for much of its run.Interzone (magazine)
Interzone is a British fantasy and science fiction magazine. Published since 1982, Interzone is the eighth longest-running English language science fiction magazine in history, and the longest-running British SF magazine. Stories published in Interzone have been finalists for the Hugo Awards and have won a Nebula Award and numerous British Science Fiction Awards.Nautilus Award
Nautilus Award is a Polish science fiction and fantasy award created by Robert J. Szmidt of the Science Fiction magazine. The award is named after the cephalopods of that name (nautilus).
Each year, five novels and short stories are recognized. The awards have been presented for years 2003-2007 and 2009. The 2008 awards were not given out due to magazine publisher change. Since 2010 the award has been awarded several times, but it has also been mired in controversy and its future status is unknown.None but Lucifer
None but Lucifer is a fantasy novel by American writers Horace L. Gold and L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown in September 1939. Despite its good reception by the readership and the prominence of its authors (Gold was the founding editor of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, and de Camp quickly became a leading light of science fiction and fantasy during those genres' "golden age"), the book remained unpublished in book form for over sixty years, until finally issued as a trade paperback by Gateways Retro Science Fiction in 2002. It is also available as an electronic publication.Space Science Fiction Magazine
Space Science Fiction Magazine was a US science fiction magazine published by Republic Features Syndicate, Inc. as part of a package of radio shows and related genre magazines. Two issues appeared, both in 1957. It published short stories by well-known writers, including Arthur C. Clarke and Jack Vance, but it was not successful, and the magazine ceased publication late in 1957.Starlog
Starlog was a monthly science fiction magazine that was created in 1976 and focused primarily on Star Trek at its inception. Kerry O'Quinn and Norman Jacobs were its creators and it was published by Starlog Group, Inc. in August 1976. Starlog was one of the first publications to report on the development of the first Star Wars movie, and it followed the development of what was to eventually become Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Starlog was born out of the Star Trek fandom craze, but also was inspired by the success of the magazine Cinefantastique which was the model of Star Trek and Star Wars coverage. Starlog, though it called itself a science fiction magazine, actually contained no fiction. The primary focus of the magazine, besides the fact that it was mostly based on Star Trek fandom, was the making of science fiction media - books, films, and television series - and the work that went into these creations. The magazine examined the form of science fiction and used interviews and features with artists and writers as its foundation.Science fiction fans, such as those who follow the television channel SyFy, have voiced that Starlog is the science fiction magazine most responsible for cultivating and exhibiting fanboy culture in America during the magazine’s heyday in the 1970s through the early 1990s. Not only did the magazine cover media, the way it was created, and by whom, but they also attended conventions such as the “Ultimate Fantasy” convention in Houston, Texas in 1982 (which was a legendary flop) and kept fans updated on the current events in their respective sci-fi fandoms. Starlog itself followed the marketing strategy of labeling it “the most popular science fiction magazine in publishing history” which allowed the creators to home in on their fanboy market and use that advertisement strategy to their advantage. In later years many of its long-time contributors had moved on. Nonetheless, it continued to boast genre journalists such as Jean-Marc Lofficier, Will Murray, and Tom Weaver.Starlog ended its run as a digital magazine published by The Brooklyn Company, run by longtime Fangoria President Thomas DeFeo. In April 2009, Starlog officially ended its time in print, moving 33 years of material (374 issues) into the Internet Archive where the issues are still available today in digital form. Though no new issues were created, all the past issues have been uploaded by users and are downloadable in multiple formats.Tales of Wonder (magazine)
Tales of Wonder is a British science fiction magazine published from 1937 to 1942, with Walter Gillings as editor. It was published by The World's Work, a subsidiary of William Heinemann, as part of a series of genre titles that included Tales of Mystery and Detection and Tales of the Uncanny. Gillings was able to attract some good material, despite the low payment rates he was able to offer; he also included many reprints from U.S. science fiction magazines. The magazine was apparently more successful than the other genre titles issued by The World's Work, since Tales of Wonder was the only one to publish more than a single issue.
Arthur C. Clarke made his first professional sale to Tales of Wonder, with two science articles. Gillings also published William F. Temple's first story, some early material by John Wyndham, and "The Prr-r-eet" by Eric Frank Russell. American writers who appeared in the magazine included Murray Leinster and Jack Williamson; these were both reprints, but some new material from the U.S. did appear, including Lloyd A. Eshbach's "Out of the Past", and S.P. Meek's "The Mentality Machine". With the advent of World War II, paper shortages and Gillings' call up into the army made it increasingly difficult to continue, and the sixteenth issue, dated Spring 1942, was the last. Tales of Wonder was not the first British science fiction magazine, but it was the first one aimed at an adult market, and its success made it apparent that a science fiction magazine could survive in the UK.The Complete Chronicles of Conan
The Complete Chronicles of Conan: Centenary Edition is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 2006 by Gollancz and is an omnibus of their earlier collections The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle and The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon, though the stories are rearranged. The collection is edited by Stephen Jones and was issued to celebrate the centenary of Howard's birth. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines The Phantagraph, Weird Tales, Super-Science Fiction, Magazine of Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Magazine and The Howard Collector.The Conan Chronicles, 1
The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle is a collection of fantasy short stories written by Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The book was published in 2000 by Gollancz as eighth volume of their Fantasy Masterworks series. The book, edited by Stephen Jones, presents the stories in their internal chronological order. Most of the stories originally appeared in the magazines The Phantagraph, Weird Tales, Super-Science Fiction, Magazine of Horror and Fantasy Fiction.Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine
Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine (later Vargo Statten British Science Fiction Magazine, The British Science Fiction Magazine and The British Space Fiction Magazine) was a British science fiction magazine which published nineteen issues between 1954 and 1956. It was initially published by Scion Press, with control passing to a successor company, Scion Distributors, after Scion went bankrupt in early 1954. At the end of 1954, as part payment for a debt, Scion Distributors handed control of the magazine to Dragon Press, who continued it for another twelve issues. E.C. Tubb and John Russell Fearn were regular contributors, and Kenneth Bulmer also published several stories in the magazine. Barrington Bayley's first published story, "Combat's End", appeared in May 1954. The editor was initially Alistair Paterson, but after seven issues Fearn took the helm: "Vargo Statten" was one of Fearn's aliases, and the magazine's title had been chosen because of his popularity. Neither Paterson nor Fearn had enough of a budget to attract good quality submissions, and a printing strike in 1956 brought an end to the magazine's life.Venture Science Fiction
Venture Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, first published from 1957 to 1958, and revived for a brief run in 1969 and 1970. Ten issues were published of the 1950s version, with another six in the second run. It was founded in both instances as a companion to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; Robert P. Mills edited the 1950s version, and Edward L. Ferman was editor during the second run. A British edition appeared for 28 issues between 1963 and 1965; it reprinted material from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as from the US edition of Venture. There was also an Australian edition, which was identical to the British version but dated two months later.
The original version was only moderately successful, although it is remembered for the first publication of Sturgeon's Law. The publisher, Joseph Ferman (father of Edward Ferman), declared that he wanted well-told stories of action and adventure; the resulting fiction contained more sex and violence than was usual for the science fiction (sf) genre in the late 1950s, and sf historian Mike Ashley has suggested that the magazine was ahead of its time. It succumbed to poor sales within less than two years. The second US version was no more successful, with less attractive cover art and little in the way of notable fiction, though it did publish Vonda McIntyre's first story. By the end of 1970, Venture had ceased publication permanently.