Science fiction magazine
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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.
- 1 History of science fiction magazines
- 2 The first science fiction magazines
- 3 The pulp era
- 4 Digest-sized magazines
- 5 British science fiction magazines
- 6 The decline of the science fiction magazine
- 7 The rise of the science fiction magazine
- 8 List of magazines
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
History of science fiction magazines
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[who?] 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.
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 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.
The pulp era
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 sf 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 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, in 1970 there were seven, in 1980 there were five, in 1990 only four and in 2000 only three.
British science fiction magazines
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.
The decline of the science fiction magazine
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.
The rise of the science fiction magazine
As the circulation of the traditional US sf 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 sf periodicals that pay enough to be considered professional markets.
List of 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 (a.k.a. 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 and Fantasy Reader, 1952, 2 issues
- Avon Science Fiction Reader, 1951–1952, 3 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
- Dr. Yen Sin, 1936
- Dream World, 1957, 3 issues
- Dynamic Science Fiction, 1952–1954, 6 issues
- Dynamic Stories, 1939, 2 issues
- Electric Velocipede, 2001–2013, 27 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 (a.k.a. Fantasy Magazine), 1953, 4 issues
- Flash Gordon Strange Adventure Magazine, 1936, 1 issue
- Forgotten Fantasy, 1970–1971
- Future Fiction (a.k.a. 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
- Heliotrope E-Zine, 2006–2009, 5 issues
- Helix SF, 2006–2008, 10 issues
- If (a.k.a. Worlds of If), 1952–1974, 175 issues, revived 1987
- Imagination, 1950–1958, 63 issues
- Imaginative Tales (a.k.a. Space Travel), 1954–1958, 26 issues
- Infinity Science Fiction, 1955–1958, 20 issues
- International Science Fiction, 1967–1968, 2 issues
- The Internet Review of Science Fiction, 2004–present (non-fiction only)
- Jim Baen's Universe, 2006–2010
- 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
- Orion's Child Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine, 1984, revived 2007, 3 issues
- Other Worlds, 1949–1957
- Out of this World, 1950, 2 issues
- Paradox Magazine, 2003–2009
- Planet Stories, 1939–1955, 71 issues
- Polygraff magazine, 2009–2012
- Realms of Fantasy, 1994–2011, 102 issues
- Redstone Science Fiction, 2010–2012
- Rocket, 1953, 3 issues
- Satellite, 1956–1959, 18 issues
- Saturn, 1957–1958, 5 issues
- Sci Fiction, 2000–2005
- Science Fiction, 1939–1941, 17 issues, revived in 1953
- Science Fiction Adventures, 1952–1954, 9 issues
- 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 Fiction Stories, 1953-1960
- Science Stories, 1953–1954
- Science Wonder Stories, 1929–1930, 12 issues
- Scifidimensions, 2000–2010
- 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
- Subterranean Magazine, 2005–2014
- Super Science Fiction, 1956–1959, 18 issues
- Super Science Stories (a.k.a. Super Science Novels), 1940–1943, 16 issues, revived 1949–1951
- Ten Story Fantasy, 1951, 1 issue
- Thrilling Science Fiction (a.k.a. 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
- Uncanny Tales, 1939–1940
- Unearth (magazine), 1977–1978, 8 issues
- 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 (later Thrilling Wonder Stories), 1930–1955
- Worlds Beyond, 1950–1951, 3 issues
- Worlds of Fantasy, 1968–1971, 4 issues
- Worlds of Tomorrow, 1963–1967, 26 issues
- Abyss & Apex Magazine, 2003–present
- Analog Science Fiction and Fact (a.k.a. Astounding Stories, Astounding Science-Fiction and Analog Science Fact & Fiction), 1930–present
- Apex Digest, 2005–present
- Aphelion the Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1997–present
- Asimov's Science Fiction (a.k.a. Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine), 1977–present
- Bards and Sages Quarterly 2009–present
- Bull Spec, 2009–present
- Clarkesworld Magazine 2006–present
- Daily Science Fiction 2010–present
- Fantastic Stories of the Imagination 2014–present
- The Future Fire, 2005–present, US/UK
- GUD Magazine 2006–present, print/pdf
- Hypnos 2012–present
- Ideomancer, 2002–present
- InterGalactic Medicine Show, 2005–present
- The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (a.k.a. The Magazine of Fantasy), 1949–present
- Nebula Rift, 2012–present 
- Not one of us, 1986–present
- Perihelion Science Fiction, 1967-1969, revived 2012–present
- Planet Magazine, 1994–present
- Planetary Stories, 2005–present
- Quantum Muse E-Zine, 1997–present
- Shimmer Magazine, 2005–present
- Space Adventure Magazine, 2011–present
- Space and Time Magazine, 1966–present
- Strange Horizons, 2000–present
- Sybil's Garage, 2003–present
- Tales of the Unanticipated, 1986–present
- Three-lobed Burning Eye, 1999–present
- Waylines Magazine, 2013–present - US/Japan
- Weird Tales, 1923-1954, revived 1988-present
- 3SF, 2002–2003, 4 issues
- Alien Worlds, 1966
- Authentic Science Fiction, 1951–1957
- Fantasy Tales, 1977, 1 issue
- Farthing, 2005–2007
- Hub, 2006–213, 147 issues
- Murky Depths, 2007–2011, 18 issues
- Nebula, 1952–1959, 41 issues
- Nemonymous, 2001–2010
- New Worlds, 1946–1971, 201 issues
- Odyssey, 1997–1998, 8 issues
- Outlands, 1946, 1 issue
- Polluto 2008–2013, 10 issues
- Science Fantasy (a.k.a. Impulse), 1950–1967
- Science Fiction Adventures, 1963, 32 issues
- Science Fiction Monthly, 1974–1976, 28 issues
- SF Digest, 1976, 1 issue
- Spectrum SF, 2000–2002, 9 issues
- Tales of Wonder, 1937–1942, 16 issues
- Vargo Statten Magazine, 1954–1956 19 issues
- Vision of Tomorrow, 1969–1970, 12 issues
- Whispers of Wickedness, webzine
- Arc, 2012–present
- Critical Wave, 1987–1996, 2008–present
- Doctor Who Magazine, 1979–present
- Fever Dreams Magazine, online publication 2012–present
- The Future Fire, 2005–present – US/UK
- Interzone, 1982–present
- Jupiter Magazine, 2003–present
- Postscripts, 2004–present
- The Third Alternative (a.k.a. Black Static), 1994–present
- Alef, 1987–1993, Serbia
- Esli, 1991–2012 – Russia
- Fantázia, 1997–2007, revived 2008-2011, Slovakia
- Fenix, 1990–2001, Poland
- Häpna!, 1954–1969, Sweden
- Harbinger Magazine, 1998-1999, Australia
- Jules Verne-magasinet, 1940–1947, revived 1972–2010, Sweden
- Mitrania, 2002–2010, Sweden
- Null, 1960–1964, Japan
- Sirius, 1976–1989, Croatia
- Uchujin, 1957–2010, Japan
- Uncanny Tales, 1940–1943, Canada
- Albedo One, 1993–present, Ireland
- Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, 2002–present, Australia
- Aurealis, 1990–present, Australia
- Fantastyka (also known as Nowa Fantastyka), 1982–present, Poland
- Futura, 1992–present, Croatia
- Galaktika, 1972–1995, revived 2004–present, Hungary
- Helice, 2006–present, Spain-Latin America
- Imperija, 2000-2001–present, Lithuania
- Indian SF, 2013–present, India
- Kasma Science Fiction, 2009–present, Canada (English)
- Kaukas, 1991, revived 1997–present, Lithuania
- Kosmograd, 2001–present, Russia
- Mir Fantastiki, 2003–present, Russia
- Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, 2003–present, Canada (English)
- NewFoundSpecFic, 2009–present, Canada (English)
- Nova Science Fiction, 1982–1987, revived 2004–present, Sweden
- On Spec, 1989–present, Canada (English)
- Portti, 1982–present, Finland
- RBG-Azimuth, 2006–present, Ukraine
- Science Fiction World, 1979–present, China
- SF Magazine, 1959–present, Japan
- Sirius B, 2011–present, Croatia
- Solaris, 1974–present, Canada (French)
- Tähtivaeltaja, 1982–present, Finland
- Ubiq, 2007–present, Croatia
- Universe Pathways, 2005–present, Greece
- Urania, 1952–present, Italy
- Usva webzine, 2005–present, Finland
- Fantasy fiction magazine
- George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection
- Horror fiction magazine
- Edwards, Malcolm J.; Nicholls, Peter (1995). "SF Magazines". In John Clute and Peter Nicholls. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Updated ed.). New York: St Martin's Griffin. p. 1066. ISBN 0-312-09618-6.
- Yao, Sherry (2009). "China's Science Fiction World". The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Anders, Charlie Jane (March 25, 2010). "World's Largest Science Fiction Magazine Faces Author Uprising". io9. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- "Where to Submit Short Stories". SFWA. 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Fulda, Nancy (July 1, 2009). "Where Can I Send My Stories?". SFWA. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
- "Nebula Rift | FictionMagazines.com". www.fictionmagazines.com. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
- Parnell, Frank H.; Nicholls, Peter (1995). "Alien Worlds". In John Clute and Peter Nicholls. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Updated ed.). New York: St Martin's Griffin. p. 19. ISBN 0-312-09618-6.
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.
- Fever Dreams Magazine
- Indian SF
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.
- 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.
- Website for Locus, the newsmagazine of the science fiction field
- Illustrated checklists for over 1000 SF/Fantasy/Horror Magazines: Galactic Central website
- Duotrope search engine for fiction magazine markets