Science fiction magazine

Science fiction magazine

A "science fiction magazine" is a magazine that publishes primarily science fiction, in print or on the internet, or both.

Science fiction magazines contain primarily fiction in short story, novelette, novella, or (usually serialized) novel form, but many also contain editorials, book reviews, articles or other features. Many science fiction magazines also publish stories in the fantasy and horror genres.

History of science fiction magazines

Major American science fiction magazines include "Amazing Stories", "Astounding Science Fiction", "Galaxy Science Fiction", "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction", and "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine". The most influential and longest running British science fiction magazine was "New Worlds". 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.Fact|date=November 2007 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", "Brutarian", "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.

From 1926 until the early 1950s, American science fiction magazines were the main sources of written science fiction. 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 magazines

The first science fiction magazine, "Amazing Stories", was published in a format known as bedsheet, roughly the size of Life magazine 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 other-media coverage in addition to the fiction. The main importance of magazine format is in locating magazines in a library or collection, where magazines are usually shelved according to size.

As noted above, the first science fiction magazine was "Amazing Stories", edited and published by Hugo Gernsback. The first issue was dated April 1926 and features 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 in 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.

A lot of the 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 the following. "The Gostak and the Doshes", by Dr. Miles Breuer. This story is one of the few from this era that is still widely read today. Breuer had a large influence on Jack Williamson. The other well remembered story is "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum. 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.

The pulp era

Turning now to the pulp format magazines, the first and most famous pulp science fiction magazine was "Astounding Stories", which 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. Even the most famous of the pulp magazines, "The Shadow", changed to digest size, and soon ended. Printed adventure stories with colorful heroes were now 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 failure, 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. And most of it was so badly written that even today science fiction still carries a slight whiff of its pulp heritage. The classic image of pulp science fiction is a beautiful, scantily-clad, large-breasted woman being carried off by a bug-eyed monster. But there were also many famous stories first published in the crumbling pages of pulp magazines. In the groundbreaking year, 1939, 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 sf writers of the pulp era, and all are still read today.

Digest sized magazines

After the pulp era, digest sized 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 and Science Fiction", "Galaxy Science Fiction", and "If". Under the editorship of Cele Goldsmith, "Amazing" changed from pulp style adventure stories to literary science fiction. Goldsmith published the first stories by Roger Zelazny and Ursula 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 Ray Bradbury and Walter M. Miller, Jr., sold their most famous stories to the digests. "Fahrenheit 451" first appeared in "Galaxy Science Fiction", and "A Canticle for Leibowitz" in "The Magazine of Fantasy and 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 6 sf digests, in 1970 there were 7, in 1980 there were 5, in 1990 only 4, and in 2000 only 3.

British science fiction magazines

The first British sf 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 3 issues in 1938–1939, the other digest size, publishing 3 issues in 1946–1947. The most important British sf magazine, "New Worlds", published 3 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. As of 2007, the only surviving major British science fiction magazine is "Interzone", published in "magazine" format.

The decline of the science fiction magazine

For the past twenty years or more, 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 web-zine — some of the best science fiction appeared in web-zines beginning in the early 21st century. The most important web-zine at the beginning of the 21st century was "SciFiction", edited by Ellen Datlow, on, but the management of cancelled it in early 2006, so now it is considered that Strange Horizons has now taken over as the premier SF webzine. There are also many semi-professional magazines that struggle along on sales of a few thousand copies, but often publish important fiction.

The rise of the science fiction magazine

As the circulation of the traditional US sf magazines has declined, new magazines have sprung up on-line, from small-press publishers, and around the world. In the past ten years, "Science Fiction World", China's longest-running science fiction magazine, has doubled its circulation to 320,000, and launched a sister magazine [] . Currently the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America lists 17 sf periodicals that pay enough to be considered professional markets. "Locus", in its annual recommended reading list of short fiction, selects stories from 27 magazines worldwide, though well over a third of the more than one hundred stories listed first appeared in anthologies, and of the magazine stories, more than half first appeared in either "Asimov's Science Fiction" or "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction".Fact|date=March 2008

Best of the year anthologies

Beginning in 1949, each year there have been one or more best science fiction of the year anthologies, collecting stories from the science fiction magazines. A series of paperbacks edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, went back to the early years of science fiction and published best of the year anthologies for the years 1939 to 1963. Damon Knight edited an anthology of the best magazine sf from the 1930s.

American magazines

Defunct magazines

* "A. Merritt's Fantasy", 1949–1950, 5 issues
* "Aboriginal Science Fiction", 1986-2001
* "Absolute Magnitude", 1993-2006, 19 issues
* "Air Wonder Stories", 1929, 11 issues
* "Amazing Stories" (aka: "Amazing Science Fiction"), 1926–2005, 607 issues
* "Asimov's SF Adventure Magazine", 1978–1979, 4 issues
* "Astonishing Stories", 1940–1943, 16 issues
* "Avon Fantasy Reader", 1947–1952, 18 issues
* "Avon Science Fiction Reader", 1951–1952, 3 issues
* "Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader", 1952, 2 issues
* "Beyond Infinity", 1967, 1 issue
* "Captain Future", 1940–1944, 17 issues
* "Cosmic Stories", 1941, 3 issues
* "Cosmos", 1953–1954, 4 issues
* "Doctor Death", 1935
* "Dream World", 1957, 3 issues
* "Dr. Yen Sin", 1936
* "Dynamic Science Fiction", 1952–1954, 6 issues
* "Dynamic Stories", 1939, 2 issues
* "Eternity SF", 1972–1975, 6 issues, revived 1979–1980
* "Famous Fantastic Mysteries", 1939–1953, 81 issues
* "Famous Science Fiction", 1966–1969, 9 issues
* "Fantastic", 1952-1980
* "Fantastic Adventures", 1939-1953
* "Fantastic Story Magazine", 1950-55
* "Fantastic Universe", 1953–1960, 69 issues
* "Fantasy Book", 1947–1951, 8 issues
* "Fantasy Fiction" (aka: "Fantasy Magazine"), 1953, 4 issues
* "Flash Gordon Strange Adventure Magazine", 1936, 1 issue
* "Forgotten Fantasy", 1970-1971
* "Future Fiction" (aka: "Science Fiction"), 1939–1943, 17 issues
* "Future Science Fiction", 1950 (see "Future Fiction")
* "Galaxy Science Fiction", 1950–1980, 245 issues
* "Galileo", 1976–1980, 16 issues
* "Gamma", 1963–1965, 5 issues
* "Helix SF", 2006-2008, 10 issues
* "If" (aka: "Worlds of If"), 1952–1974, 175 issues, revived 1987
* "Imagination", 1950–1958, 63 issues
* "Imaginative Tales" (aka: "Space Travel"), 1954–1958, 26 issues
* "International Science Fiction", 1967–1968, 2 issues
* "Infinity" (aka: "Infinity Science Fiction"), 1955–1958, 20 issues
* "Marvel Tales", 1934–1935, 5 issues
* "Miracle", 1931, 2 issues
* "Oceans of the Mind", 2001-2006
* "Odyssey", 1976, 2 issues
* "Omni", 1978–1995, 168+ issues
* "Orbit Science Fiction", 1953–1954, 5 issues
* "Other Worlds", 1949–1957
* "Out of this World", 1950, 2 issues
* "Planet Stories", 1939–1955, 71 issues
* "Rocket", 1953, 3 issues
* "Satellite", 1956–1959, 18 issues
* "Saturn", 1957–1958, 5 issues
* "Science Fiction", 1939–1941, 17 issues, revived in 1953
* "Science Fiction Adventures", 1956–1958, 12 issues
* "Science Fiction Age", 1992-2000, 46 issues
* "Science Fiction Digest", 1954, 2 issues
* "Science Fiction Plus", 1953, 7 issues
* "Science Fiction Quarterly", 1940–1943, 10 issues, revived 1951-1958
* "Science Stories", 1953-1954
* "Science Wonder Stories", 1929–1930, 12 issues
* "Sci Fiction", 2000-2005
* "Space Science Fiction", 1952–1953, 8 issues
* "Space Science Fiction Magazine", 1957, 2 issues
* "Space Stories", 1951–1953, 5 issues
* "Spaceway", 1953–1955, 12 issues, revived 1967–1970
* "Star SF", 1958, 1 issue
* "Startling Stories", 1939–1955, 99 issues
* "Stirring Stories", 1941–1942, 4 issues
* "Super Science Fiction", 1956–1959, 18 issues
* "Super Science Stories" (aka: "Super Science Novels"), 1940–1943, 16 issues, revived 1949–1951
* "Ten Story Fantasy", 1951, 1 issue
* "Thrilling Science Fiction" (aka: "Thrilling Science Fiction Adventures"), 1966-1975, 42 issues
* "Tomorrow Speculative Fiction", 1993-1997, 24 issues
* "Tops in SF", 1953, 2 issues
* "Two Complete Science Adventure Books", 1950–1954, 11 issues
* "Unearth (magazine)", 1977-1978, 8 issues
* "Uncanny Tales", 1939-1940
* "Universe", 1953-1955
* "Unusual Stories", 1934–1935, 3 issues
* "Vanguard", 1958, 1 issue
* "Venture Science Fiction Magazine", 1957–1958, 16 issues, revived 1969–1970
* "Vertex", 1973–1975, 16 issues
* "Vortex", 1953, 2 issues
* "Vortex", 1977, 5 issues
* "Wonder Stories" (aka: "Thrilling Wonder Stories"), 1930–1936, 66 issues
* "Worlds of Fantasy", 1968-1971, 4 issues
* "Worlds Beyond", 1950–1951, 3 issues
* "Worlds of Tomorrow", 1963–1967, 26 issues

Current magazines

* "Analog Science Fiction and Fact" (aka: "Astounding Stories", "Astounding Science-Fiction" and "Analog Science Fact & Fiction"), 1930-present
* "Apex Digest", 2005-present
* "Asimov's Science Fiction" (aka: "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine"), 1977-present
* "The Future Fire", 2005-present - US/UK
* "GUD Magazine" 2006-present print/pdf
* "Heliotrope E-Zine", 2006-present
* "Ideomancer", 2002-present
* "InterGalactic Medicine Show", 2005-present
* "Jim Baen's Universe", 2006-present
* "Literary Science Fiction Library", 2008-present
* "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" (aka: "The Magazine of Fantasy"), 1949–present
* "Not one of us", 1986-present
* "Orion's Child Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine", 1984, revived 2007-present
* "Paradox Magazine", 2003-present
* "Planet Magazine", 1994-present
* "Scifidimensions", 2000-present
* "Shimmer Magazine", 2005-present
* "Strange Horizons", 2000-present
* "Subterranean Magazine", 2005-present
* "Sybil's Garage", 2003-present
* "Tales of the Unanticipated", 1986-present
* "The Third Level", 2006-present

British magazines

Defunct magazines

* "3SF", 2002-2003, 4 issues
* "Authentic Science Fiction", 1951-1957
* "Critical Wave", 1987-96
* "Fantasy Tales", 1977, 1 issue
* "Farthing", 2005-2007
* "Nebula", 1952–1959, 41 issues
* "New Worlds", 1946-1971, 201 issues
* "Odyssey", 1997-1998, 8 issues
* "Outlands", 1946, 1 issue
* "Science Fantasy" (aka: "Impulse"), 1950-1967
* "Science Fiction Adventures", 1963, 32 issues
* "Science Fiction Monthly", 1974-1976, 28 issues
* "SF Digest", 1976, 1 issue
* "Tales of Wonder", 1937-1942, 16 issues
* "Vargo Statten Magazine", 1954-1956 19 issues
* "Vision of Tomorrow", 1969–1970, 12 issues

Current magazines

* "The Future Fire", 2005-present - US/UK
* "Hub", 2006-present
* "Interzone", 1982-present
* "Jupiter Magazine", 2003-present
* "Murky Depths", 2007-present
* "Nemonymous", 2001-present
* "Postscripts", 2004-present
* "The Third Alternative" (aka: "Black Static"), 1994-present

Other magazines

Defunct magazines

* "Fenix", 1990-2001 - Poland
* "Häpna!", 1954-1969 - Sweden
* "Null", 1960-1964 - Japan
* "Sirius", 1976-1989 - Croatia
* "Uchujin", 1957-1960s - Japan
* "Uncanny Tales", 1940-1943 - Canada

Current magazines

* "Albedo One", 1993-present - Ireland
* "Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine", 2002-present - Australia
* "Aurealis", 1990-present - Australia
* "Esli", ?-present - Russia
* "Fantastyka" (also known as "Nowa Fantastyka"), 1982-present - Poland
* "Fantázia", 1997-present - Slovakia
* "Futura", 1992-present - Croatia
* "Galaktika", 1972-1995, revived 2004-present - Hungary
* "Jules Verne-magasinet", 1940–1947, revived 1972–present - Sweden
* "Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine", 2003-present - Canada
* "Nova Science Fiction", 1982–1987, revived 2004–present - Sweden
* "On Spec", 1989-present - Canada
* "Science Fiction World", 1979-present - China
* "SF Magazine", 1959-present - Japan
* "Solaris", 1974-present - Canada
* "Tähtivaeltaja", ?-present - Finland
* "Ubiq", 2007-present - Croatia
* "Urania", 1952-present - Italy


* Day, Donald B., "Index to the Science Fiction Magazines: 1926–1950", Perri Press, 1952.
* Strauss, Erwin S., "The MIT Science Fiction Society's Index to the S-F Magazines: 1951–1965", MITSFS, 1965.
* Clute, John and Nicholls, Peter, "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction", St. Martin's Press, 1993.
* Knight, Damon, "Science Fiction in the 30's", Avon Books, 1977.
* Asimov, Isaac and Greenberg, Martin H., "Isaac Asimov presents Great Science Fiction Stories of 1939", DAW Books, 1979.

ee also

*Fantasy fiction magazine
*Horror fiction magazine

External links

*For up-to-date information about the current state of the science fiction magazine, go to

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