Analog Science Fiction And Fact - September 2013
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.
Analog Science Fiction and Fact - September 2013
In 1926, Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories, the first science fiction (sf) magazine. Gernsback had been printing scientific fiction stories for some time in his hobbyist magazines, such as Modern Electrics and Electrical Experimenter, but decided that interest in the genre was sufficient to justify a monthly magazine. Amazing was very successful, quickly reaching a circulation over 100,000. William Clayton, a successful and well-respected publisher of several pulp magazines, considered starting a competitive title in 1928; according to Harold Hersey, one of his editors at the time, Hersey had "discussed plans with Clayton to launch a pseudo-science fantasy sheet". Clayton was unconvinced, but the following year decided to launch a new magazine, mainly because the sheet on which the color covers of his magazines were printed had a space for one more cover. He suggested to Harry Bates, a newly hired editor, that they start a magazine of historical adventure stories. Bates proposed instead a science fiction pulp, to be titled Astounding Stories of Super Science, and Clayton agreed.
The first Street & Smith issue was dated October 1933; until the third issue, in December 1933, the editorial team was not named on the masthead. Street & Smith had an excellent distribution network, and they were able to get Astounding's circulation up to an estimated 50,000 by the middle of 1934. The two main rival science fiction magazines of the day, Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories, each had a circulation about half that. Astounding was the leading science fiction magazine by the end of 1934, and it was also the largest, at 160 pages, and the cheapest, at 20 cents. Street & Smith's rates of one cent per word (sometimes more) on acceptance were not as high as the rates paid by Bates for the Clayton Astounding, but they were still better than those of the other magazines.
One of Campbell's first acts was to change the title from Astounding Stories to Astounding Science-Fiction, starting with the March 1938 issue. Campbell's editorial policy was targeted at the more mature readers of science fiction, and he felt that "Astounding Stories" did not convey the right image. He intended to subsequently drop the "Astounding" part of the title, as well, leaving the magazine titled Science Fiction, but in 1939 a new magazine with that title appeared. Although "Astounding" was retained in the title, thereafter it was often printed in a color that made it much less visible than "Science-Fiction". At the start of 1942 the price was increased, for the first time, to 25 cents; the magazine simultaneously switched to the larger bedsheet format, but this did not last. Astounding returned to pulp-size in mid-1943 for six issues, and then became the first science fiction magazine to switch to digest size in November 1943, increasing the number of pages to maintain the same total word count. The price remained at 25 cents through these changes in format. The hyphen was dropped from the title with the November 1946 issue.
The price increased again, to 35 cents, in August 1951. In the late 1950s, it became apparent to Street & Smith that they were going to have to raise prices again. During 1959, Astounding was priced at 50 cents in some areas to find out what the impact would be on circulation. The results were apparently satisfactory, and the price was raised with the November 1959 issue. The following year, Campbell finally achieved his goal of getting rid of the word "Astounding" in the magazine's title, changing it to Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction. The "/" in the title was often replaced by a symbol of Campbell's devising, resembling an inverted U pierced by a horizontal arrow and meaning "analogous to". The change began with the February 1960 issue, and was complete by October; for several issues both "Analog" and "Astounding" could be seen on the cover, with "Analog" becoming bolder and "Astounding" fading with each issue.
Campbell died suddenly in July 1971, but there was enough material in Analog's inventory to allow the remaining staff to put together issues for the rest of the year. Condé Nast had given the magazine very little attention, since it was both profitable and cheap to produce, but they were proud that it was the leading science fiction magazine. They asked Kay Tarrant, who had been Campbell's assistant, to help them find a replacement: she contacted regular contributors to ask for suggestions. Several well-known writers turned down the job; Poul Anderson did not want to leave California, and neither did Jerry Pournelle, who also felt the salary was too small. Before he died, Campbell had talked to Harry Harrison about taking over as editor, but Harrison did not want to live in New York. Lester del Rey and Clifford D. Simak were also rumored to have been offered the job, though Simak denied it; Frederik Pohl was interested, but suspected his desire to change the direction of the magazine lessened his chances with Condé Nast. The Condé Nast vice president in charge of selecting the new editor decided to read both fiction and nonfiction writing samples from the applicants, since Analog's title included both "science fiction" and "science fact". He chose Ben Bova, afterwards telling Bova that his stories and articles "were the only ones I could understand". January 1972 was the first issue to credit Bova on the masthead.
Bova planned to stay for five years, to ensure a smooth transition after Campbell's sudden death; the salary was too low for him to consider remaining indefinitely. In 1975, he proposed a new magazine to Condé Nast management, to be titled Tomorrow Magazine; he wanted to publish articles about science and technology, leavened with some science fiction stories. Condé Nast was not interested, and refused to assist Analog with marketing or promotions. Bova resigned in June 1978, having stayed for a little longer than he had planned, and recommended Stanley Schmidt to succeed him. Schmidt's first issue was December 1978, though material purchased by Bova continued to appear for several months.
The first incarnation of Astounding was an adventure-oriented magazine: unlike Gernsback, Bates had no interest in educating his readership through science. The covers were all painted by Wesso and similarly action-filled; the first issue showed a giant beetle attacking a man. Bates would not accept any experimental stories, relying mostly on formulaic plots. In the eyes of Mike Ashley, a science fiction historian, Bates was "destroying the ideals of science fiction". One historically important story that almost appeared in Astounding was E.E. Smith's Triplanetary, which Bates would have published had Astounding not folded in early 1933. The cover Wesso had painted for the story appeared on the March 1933 issue, the last to be published by Clayton.
When Street & Smith acquired Astounding, they also planned to relaunch another Clayton pulp, Strange Tales, and acquired material for it before deciding not to proceed. These stories appeared in the first Street & Smith Astounding, dated October 1933. This issue and the next were unremarkable in quality, but with the December issue, Tremaine published a statement of editorial policy, calling for "thought variant" stories containing original ideas and not simply reproducing adventure themes in a science fiction context. The policy was probably worked out between Tremaine and Desmond Hall, his assistant editor, in an attempt to give Astounding a clear identity in the market that would distinguish it from both the existing science fiction magazines and the hero pulps, such as The Shadow, that frequently used sf ideas.
The "thought variant" policy may have been introduced for publicity, rather than as a real attempt to define the sort of fiction Tremaine was looking for; the early "thought variant" stories were not always very original or well executed. Ashley describes the first, Nat Schachner's "Ancestral Voices", as "not amongst Schachner's best"; the second, "Colossus", by Donald Wandrei, was not a new idea, but was energetically written. Over the succeeding issues, it became apparent that Tremaine was genuinely willing to publish material that would have fallen foul of editorial taboos elsewhere. He serialized Charles Fort's Lo!, a nonfiction work about strange and inexplicable phenomena, in eight parts between April and November 1934, in an attempt to stimulate new ideas for stories. The best-remembered story of 1934 is probably Jack Williamson's "The Legion of Space", which began serialization in April, but other notable stories include Murray Leinster's "Sidewise in Time", which was the first genre science fiction story to use the idea of alternate history; "The Bright Illusion", by C.L. Moore, and "Twilight", by John W. Campbell, writing as Don A. Stuart. "Twilight", which was written in a more literary and poetic style than Campbell's earlier space opera stories, was particularly influential, and Tremaine encouraged other writers to produce similar stories. One such was Raymond Z. Gallun's "Old Faithful", which appeared in the December 1934 issue and was sufficiently popular that Gallun wrote a sequel, "Son of Old Faithful", published the following July. Space opera continued to be popular, though, and two overlapping space opera novels were running in Astounding late in the year: The Skylark of Valeron by E.E. Smith, and The Mightiest Machine, by Campbell. By the end of the year, Astounding was the clear leader of the small field of sf magazines.