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.

July 1958 issue of Venture, the last issue of the magazine's first version. The cover is by Ed Emshwiller, illustrating Lester del Rey's "Lady of Space".

First US run

In late 1949, publisher Lawrence E. Spivak launched The Magazine of Fantasy, one of many new titles in a crowded field of genre magazines. The title was changed to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (usually abbreviated to F&SF) with the second issue, and the new magazine rapidly became successful and influential within the science fiction field.[1] The editors were Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, and the managing editor was Robert P. Mills. In 1954, Joseph Ferman, a partner of Spivak's, bought the magazine from him.[2] Ferman subsequently decided to launch a companion magazine, and gave it to Mills to edit.[3]

The new magazine was titled Venture Science Fiction, and the first issue was dated January 1957. Mills was managing editor of F&SF throughout Venture's first run; he became editor of F&SF shortly after Venture ceased publishing in July 1958.[3] The editorial philosophy was laid out by Ferman in the inaugural issue: "strong stories of action and adventure ... There will be two prime requisites for Venture stories: In the first place, each must be a well-told story, with a beginning, middle and end; in the second place, each must be a strong story—a story with pace, power and excitement."[4] Ferman hoped to take advantage of a gap in the science fiction magazine market opened up by the demise of Planet Stories, one of the last sf pulps, which had ceased publication in late 1955.[3] Planet Stories had focused on adventure stories, as opposed to the realistic style becoming more popular in science fiction in the 1950s,[5] and Ferman hoped to combine the virtues of the melodramatic pulp fiction style with the literary values that were key to F&SF's success.[3] Venture's bias towards action-oriented adventure led to stories with relatively more sex and violence than those in competing magazines, and sf historian Mike Ashley has commented that it was perhaps five or ten years ahead of its time. One story, "The Girl Had Guts", by Theodore Sturgeon, involved an alien virus that caused its victims to vomit up their intestines; Ashley records a reviewer saying that the story made him physically ill.[6][7]

Ed Emshwiller supplied eight of the ten covers; he had sold several covers to F&SF by this time, so his work reinforced the sense of connection between the two magazines.[3] Emshwiller also contributed interior illustrations in the first issue, but the main interior artist was John Giunta, with John Schoenherr contributing some of his earliest work to several of the later issues.[3][8]

Some well-known writers appeared during this incarnation of Venture, including Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Silverberg, and Damon Knight. Not all the fiction was adventure oriented. For example, Sturgeon's story "The Comedian's Children" tells of a telethon host and his relationship with his sponsors, and Leigh Brackett's "All the Colors of the Rainbow" deals with racism after aliens have contacted humanity. These and other examples can be regarded as stories of character with strong themes, in keeping with Ferman's stated goals in his inaugural editorial.[3] Venture was also the place that "Sturgeon's Law" first saw print. This adage is now usually seen in the form "90% of everything is crap". It was formulated by Sturgeon in about 1951, and a version of it appeared in the March 1958 issue of Venture, under the name "Sturgeon's Revelation".[9][10]

An editorial, "Venturings," appeared in each issue of the first series; after Ferman used the first one as a platform for editorial policy, it was usually written by Mills, who occasionally turned the column over to letters from SF figures. The very last editorial, in July 1958, featured a eulogy of C.M. Kornbluth by Frederik Pohl, and one of Henry Kuttner by Sturgeon. Kornbluth and Kuttner had died within two months of each other earlier that year.[3][8]

Sturgeon began a book review column, "On Hand . . . Offhand", in the July 1957 issue that continued for the rest of the magazine's run. This was Sturgeon's first review column; more than a decade later he wrote a similar column for Galaxy Science Fiction. The January 1958 issue saw the first in a series of four science articles by Asimov that also continued until Venture folded. The series was transferred to F&SF, beginning with the November 1958 issue, and eventually ran to 399 consecutive articles; it is not often remembered that it began in F&SF's short-lived companion magazine.[3][8]

Venture kept to a steady bimonthly schedule for ten issues, but its circulation never reached a sustainable level, and it was canceled in mid-1958. The large number of competing magazines probably hurt sales, though since many of the competitors lasted for only one or two issues, Venture can be thought of as at least a partial success.[3] An anthology drawn from the magazine's fiction, No Limits, was published in 1964 by Ballantine Books, attributed to Joseph Ferman as editor.

British and Australian editions

In December 1959, a British edition of F&SF appeared from Atlas Publishing and Distributing Limited, a London-based publisher. Atlas had published a British edition of Analog (formerly Astounding Science Fiction) since 1939. In 1963 the abolition of import restrictions meant that Analog could be directly imported, and since there was no longer a need for a British edition, Atlas decided to start a new sf magazine to replace it. The new Venture Science Fiction drew many of its stories from the US version, but it also reprinted from the late 1950s F&SF, since there had been no British edition of that magazine until the end of 1959. Within a year Atlas decided to abandon their edition of F&SF as well; the last issue appeared in June 1964.[11]

The British version of Venture began in September 1963, and ran for 28 numbered issues, through December 1965; the editor was Ronald R. Wickers.[12] The stories selected from F&SF for the UK edition of Venture did not overlap with material already reprinted in the UK edition of F&SF.[7] The first five issues had pictorial covers, but thereafter the cover simply listed the names of the contributing authors. This unattractive presentation, and the lack of much in the way of interior artwork, probably hurt sales. Atlas's stated reason for ending the magazine was that it was "due to the expiration of available material", but there were in fact many stories available to reprint. It is more likely that the real reason was that the US edition of F&SF was by then easily available in the UK, and that circulation was falling.[11]

Atlas also published an Australian edition, which was identical to the British edition except that it was dated two months later; the issues ran from November 1963 to February 1966.[11]

Second US run

August 1970 issue of Venture; the last issue. The cover, by Bert Tanner, is much weaker than the art provided by Ed Emshwiller for the first version of the magazine.[3]

A little over ten years after the first US edition ceased, a new version appeared, again as a companion to F&SF. This time the magazine was quarterly. The debut issue was dated May 1969, and it was edited by Edward L. Ferman—son of Joseph Ferman—who was also the editor of F&SF. There was no statement of editorial intent for this version, but the policy was straightforward: a novel was presented in each issue. Although these were substantially cut, they still took up most of the magazine, with the result that the other stories tended to be very short. As in the first incarnation, the contents were of fairly good quality, with contributions from well-known writers.[7] However, the magazine was no more successful than before, and lasted for only six quarterly issues; the last issue was August 1970.[7]

The condensed novels that appeared in this version of Venture included Hour of the Horde, by Gordon R. Dickson; Plague Ship, by Harry Harrison; Star Treasure, by Keith Laumer; and Beastchild, by Dean R. Koontz.[3][8] The short fiction included little of note, though "The Snows Are Melted, the Snows Are Gone", an early story by James Tiptree, Jr., appeared in 1969, and "Breaking Point", by Vonda McIntyre, was published in February 1970.[3] "Breaking Point" was McIntyre's first published fiction, but, perhaps because it was published as by "V. N. McIntyre", it has been missed by several bibliographers.[13] There was also a Reginald Bretnor Feghoot story in each issue: these were a series of very short stories, based on bad puns, that had begun in F&SF the previous year.[3]

Ron Goulart contributed a book review column to each issue of the second incarnation, and there was an occasional film review.[3] This version of Venture did not credit the artists, but most of the covers were signed by Bert Tanner, who was listed on the masthead as the art director. Tanner's cover art was much less distinguished than Emshwiller's work for the first run of the magazine, and it is likely that this had a negative effect on sales: Tanner's work has been likened to "pencil sketches overlaid by a single color".[3] Tanner also contributed much, but not all, of the interior art; other artists who can by identified by their signatures include Emshwiller, Derek Carter, and Bhob Stewart, who illustrated Tiptree's story in the November 1969 issue.[8]

Bibliographic details

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1957 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6
1958 2/1 2/2 2/3 2/4
1963 1 2 3 4
1964 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1965 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
1969 3/1 3/2 3/3
1970 4/1 4/2 4/3
Issues of Venture, showing volume/issue number, and color-coded to show
who was editor for each issue: Robert P. Mills for the first US version,
Ronald R. Wickers for the UK edition, and Edward L. Ferman for the second
US version.[12]

For the first incarnation, Venture was priced at 35 cents throughout, and maintained a 128-page count along with a regular bimonthly schedule, starting with January 1957 and ending with the July 1958 issue. The first volume had six numbers, and the second had four. The British edition was numbered consecutively from 1 to 28 without any volume numbers, and was priced at 2/6 (₤0.​12 12) until the July 1964 issue, after which the price was 3/- (₤0.15). The second US version began in May 1969 with volume 3 number 1, and maintained a regular quarterly schedule until the last issue in August 1970. Each issue was priced at 60 cents, and like its predecessor had a page count of 128.[3][8][11]

After the first US edition ceased publication, F&SF added the line "including Venture Science Fiction" to the masthead, in order to ensure that the publisher retained the rights to the title. The line reappeared in February 1971, several months after the failure of the second US edition, and was finally dropped in February 1990.[3][8]


  1. ^ Ashley, Transformations, pp. 20–22.
  2. ^ Thomas D. Clareson, "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 380.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Nicholas S. De Larber, "Venture Science Fiction (1969–1970) (1957–1958)", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 705–709.
  4. ^ Quoted in Nicholas S. De Larber, "Venture Science Fiction (1969–1970) (1957–1958)", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 705–709.
  5. ^ Thomas D. Clareson, "Planet Stories", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 476–481.
  6. ^ Ashley, History of the SF Magazine Part 4, pp. 21–22.
  7. ^ a b c d "Venture Science Fiction", in Tuck, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 3, p. 604.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g See the individual issues. For convenience, an online index is available at "Magazine:Venture Science Fiction". ISFDB. Al von Ruff. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  9. ^ Jesse Sheidlower, Jeff Prucher and Malcolm Farmer eds. "Sturgeon's Law". Science Fiction Citations for the OED. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-03-07.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Sturgeon's Law", Oxford English Dictionary, Draft Entry June 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d Mike Ashley, "Venture Science Fiction (1963–1965)", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 709–710.
  12. ^ a b Ashley, Transformations, p. 346.
  13. ^ See for example John Clute, "Vonda Neel McIntyre", in Nicholls & Clute, Encyclopedia of SF, p. 757.
  • Ashley, Michael (1978). The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, Part 4 1956–1965. London: New English Library. ISBN 0-450-03438-0.
  • Ashley, Mike (2005). Transformations: The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-779-4.
  • Clute, John; Peter Nicholls (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-09618-6.
  • Oxford English Dictionary: The Definitive Record of the English Language (3rd ed.). Online: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1982). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Volume 3. Chicago: Advent: Publishers. ISBN 0-911682-26-0.
  • Tymm, Marshall B.; Mike Ashley (1985). Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-21221-X.
Buy Jupiter

"Buy Jupiter!" is a humorous science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the May 1958 issue of Venture Science Fiction Magazine, and reprinted in the 1975 collection Buy Jupiter and Other Stories. The original title of the story was "It Pays," though it was never published under this name.

Earthman's Burden

Earthman's Burden is a collection of science fiction stories by American writers Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1957. The story "Don Jones" was original to this collection. The other stories originally appeared in the magazines Other Worlds, Universe and Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The stories involve a teddy bear-like alien race known as Hokas, and spoof a variety of fictional genres.

Edward L. Ferman

Edward Lewis Ferman (born March 6, 1937) was an American science fiction and fantasy editor and magazine publisher, known best as the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF).

Ferman is the son of Joseph W. Ferman, the publisher and sometime editor who established F&SF in 1949. He took over as editor in 1964 when Avram Davidson could no longer practically continue, as a resident of Latin American locales with unreliable postal delivery. (Joseph Ferman was listed as editor during 1964–65, however, followed by Edward from January 1966 through June 1991.) Edward Ferman would take on the role of publisher, as well, by 1970, as his father gradually retired. He continued as editor until 1991, when he hired his replacement, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and continued as publisher of F&SF until he sold it to Gordon Van Gelder in 2000. During Ferman's tenure, many other speculative fiction magazines struggled or went out of business. His magazine, along with Analog, continued to maintain a regular schedule and to receive critical appreciation for its contents.

During 1969 and 1970, Ferman was also the editor of F&SF's sister publication Venture Science Fiction Magazine. Together, the Fermans had also edited and published the short-lived nostalgia and humor magazine P.S. and a similarly brief run of a magazine about mysticism and other proto-New Age matters, Inner Space.

Ferman won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor three years in a row, from 1981 through 1983. F&SF had previously won four Hugos as the best professional magazine under his editorship. At least in the last decade of his tenure, he worked from a table in the family's Connecticut house. He edited or co-edited several volumes of stories from F&SF and co-edited Final Stage with Barry N. Malzberg. It is probable that he also ghost-edited No Limits for or with Joseph Ferman, an anthology drawn from the pages of the first run of Venture.

Ferman was recognized by a special World Fantasy Award for professional work in 1979 and by the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1998. He was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009.

Oi, Robot: competitions and cartoons from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (Mercury Press, 1995), edited by Ferman

I'm in Marsport Without Hilda

"I'm in Marsport Without Hilda" is a short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. The story first appeared in the November 1957 issue of Venture Science Fiction Magazine, and was reprinted in the collection Nine Tomorrows in 1959, in a bowdlerized version. The complete original version appeared in Asimov's Mysteries (1968). It is a mystery story in a science fiction setting.

Joseph W. Ferman

Joseph Wolfe Ferman (June 8, 1906 – December 29, 1974) was a Lithuanian-born American science fiction publisher.

Ferman moved to the United States and began working on the magazine American Mercury, the primary publication of the Mercury Press, which added Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1941. He was involved with the founding of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1949, and became the magazine's publisher in 1954, after Lawrence Spivak resigned to pursue his interest in the television series Meet the Press. Ferman became the magazine's official editor in 1964 although his son Edward L. Ferman did the actual editing. Edward succeeded him as publisher in 1970, with Joseph taking the title "Chairman of the Board" of what had become a family business.

In 1957, he founded Venture Science Fiction Magazine with Robert P. Mills as its editor. When the Fermans relaunched the magazine again more than a decade later, Edward Ferman served as editor. Other notable projects included the anthologies No Limits (1964), with stories taken from the pages of the first run of Venture, and Once and Future Tales (1964) with stories from F&SF, but not part of the Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction series. Both of these anthologies may have been ghost-edited by Edward Ferman. Joseph Ferman also published such magazines as Mercury Mystery Book-Magazine, Bestseller Mystery Magazine, the nostalgia magazine P. S. and the proto-New Age magazine Inner Space.

Land of Unreason

Land of Unreason is a fantasy novel by American writers Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds for October, 1941 as "The Land of Unreason". Revised and expanded, it was first published in book form by Henry Holt and Company in 1942. It has been reprinted numerous times since by various publishers, including by Ballantine Books in January 1970 as the tenth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.

Larry Eisenberg

Lawrence Eisenberg (December 21, 1919 – December 25, 2018) was an American biomedical engineer and science fiction writer. He is best known for his short story "What Happened to Auguste Clarot?", published in Harlan Ellison's anthology Dangerous Visions. Eisenberg's stories have also been printed in a number of leading science fiction magazines, including The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, and Asimov's Science Fiction. His stories have been reprinted in anthologies such as Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century, The 10th Annual of the Year’s Best S-F, and Great Science Fiction By the World's Great Scientists. He is also known for the limericks he posted in the comments sections of various articles in The New York Times.

More Than One Universe

More Than One Universe: The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke is a collection of science fiction short stories by Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1991.

The stories originally appeared in the periodicals Playboy, Vogue, Dude, New Worlds, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Dundee Sunday Telegraph, Analog, Amazing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Infinity Science Fiction, London Evening News, Startling Stories, Venture Science Fiction Magazine, If, Boys' Life, This Week, Bizarre! Mystery Magazine, Escapade, Asimov's Science Fiction, Astounding, King's College Review, Dynamic Science Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Satellite, Argosy and Ten Story Fantasy as well as the anthologies Star Science Fiction Stories No.1 edited by Frederik Pohl, Time to Come edited by August Derleth, Infinity #2 edited by Robert Hoskins and The Farthest Reaches, edited by Joseph Elder.

Robert P. Mills

Robert Park Mills (1920−1986) was an American crime- and science fiction magazine editor and literary agent.

Mills was the managing editor of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine beginning in 1948 and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from its inception in 1949; he took over as editor upon the resignation of Anthony Boucher in 1958; while EQMM was sold by publishers Mercury Press in 1958 to B. G. Davis, Mills briefly remained on staff there during the transition and continued to edit Mercury Mystery Book-Magazine till its folding. From 1957-1958, he also served as editor of Venture Science Fiction Magazine. Under Mills, F&SF won three Hugo Awards for best magazine (in 1959, 1960 and 1963). He also edited several "Best of" volumes based on the contents of F&SF among other anthologies. He was succeeded as editor by Avram Davidson in 1962.

Ron Goulart

Ron Goulart (; born January 13, 1933) is an American popular culture historian and mystery, fantasy and science fiction author.

Goulart was prolific, and wrote many novelizations and other routine work under various pseudonyms: Kenneth Robeson, Con Steffanson, Chad Calhoun, R.T. Edwards, Ian R. Jamieson, Josephine Kains, Jillian Kearny, Howard Lee, Zeke Masters, Frank S. Shawn, and Joseph Silva.Goulart's first professional publication was a 1952 reprint of the SF story "Letters to the Editor" in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; this parody of a pulp magazine letters column was originally published in the University of California, Berkeley's Pelican. His early career in advertising and marketing influenced much of his work. In the early 1960s, Goulart wrote the text for Chex Press, a newspaper parody published on Ralston Purina cereal boxes (Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, Corn Chex). He contributed to P.S. and other magazines, along with his book review column for Venture Science Fiction Magazine. Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines (1972) is his best known non-fiction book.

Spaceship Medic

Spaceship Medic is a 1970 science fiction novel for young people by Harry Harrison. The story originally appeared in the November 1969 issue of the magazine Venture Science Fiction as "Plague Ship".

The Dust of Death

"The Dust of Death" is a science fiction/mystery short story by Isaac Asimov that was first published in the January 1957 issue of Venture Science Fiction Magazine and reprinted in the 1968 collection Asimov's Mysteries.

The Enemy (short story)

"The Enemy" is a science fiction short story by American writer Damon Knight. It first appeared in the January 1958 issue of Venture magazine and has been reprinted twice, in the books Far Out (1961) and The Best of Damon Knight (1976).

The Keeper (short story)

"The Keeper" is a science fiction short story by American writer H. Beam Piper. It is the last story in Piper’s Terro-Human Future History series, being set in the 301st Century A.E. (Atomic Era).

It made its first appearance in the July 1957 issue of Venture Science Fiction.

The Survivors (Godwin novel)

The Survivors is a science fiction novel by American writer Tom Godwin. It was published in 1958 by Gnome Press in an edition of 5,000 copies, of which 1,084 were never bound. The novel was published in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960 under the title Space Prison. The novel is an expansion of Godwin's story "Too Soon to Die" which first appeared in the magazine Venture.

Godwin wrote a sequel, entitled The Space Barbarians and published in 1964.

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