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Fantastic

February 1955 issue (Vol. 1, No. 8) of Fantastic
Editor Howard Browne
Paul W. Fairman
Cele Goldsmith
Joseph Ross (Sep 1965 – Nov 1967)
Harry Harrison
Barry N. Malzberg
Ted White (June 1969 – Jan 1979)
Elinor Mavor
Categories Fantasy fiction magazine
Frequency bi-monthly; monthly 1957–65, quarterly since 1976
First issue Summer 1952
Final issue October 1980
Company Ziff Davis Publishing Co.
Ultimate Publications
Country United States (Chicago, Illinois)

Fantastic was a fantasy and science fiction magazine published in the United States from 1952 to 1980. A sister publication, Fantastic Adventures, was merged into Fantastic beginning with May/June 1953 issue.

Contents

Ziff-Davis era

Begun in 1952 by editor Howard Browne and publishers Ziff Davis (Z-D) as an attempt at a sophisticated and handsome digest-sized magazine, Fantastic was initially a success, and became even more so by its third issue, which featured a story attributed to the enormously popular crime fiction writer Mickey Spillane. The story was actually written by Browne, a crime-fiction writer and editor who had been editing the pulp magazines line Z-D published at that time, including Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and the recently-folded Mammoth Detective, among others; apparently Spillane had told a version of the story he'd previously sold to Fantastic to a reporter from Life Magazine, where it appeared ahead of the Z-D magazine's publication, leaving Browne unwilling to run the actual Spillane text.

Subsequent issues of Fantastic sold well enough for the pulp Fantastic Adventures to be merged with it in 1954; Amazing had already been reshaped to resemble Fantastic. Browne was by his own account more comfortable with fantasy fiction than with sf, and soon was concentrating his attention on his writing career; his assistant Paul W. Fairman became editor of Fantastic and Amazing in 1956, and soon established a policy of reliable mediocrity by purchasing nearly all the contents of his issues from four writers: the young Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Randall Garrett and Milton Lesser (later better known as Stephen Marlowe), all commissioned to produce a certain amount of words per month, purchased unread.

Two innovations distinguished Fairman's regime: he published the first fantasy by Kate Wilhelm, and the sales of wish-fulfilment-fantasy-themed issues of Fantastic led to a short-lived companion magazine devoted to such fiction, Dream World. Beginning in 1959, Cele Goldsmith's editorship considerably improved the magazine; among the writers whose careers began with their sales to Goldsmith's issues, Ursula K. Le Guin has particularly praised her work, as have subsequent editors Barry N. Malzberg and Ted White.

Ultimate publications era and brief revival

Z-D sold Fantastic and Amazing to Sol Cohen in 1965, who founded Ultimate Publications to publish them; after brief periods of being edited by Joseph Wrzos (or "Ross," as he signed himself), Harry Harrison, and Barry N. Malzberg, White edited the magazine for a decade under trying financial circumstances, but gained much acclaim for the quality of the fiction, critical and historical nonfiction (by Fritz Leiber and others), and illustrations published by his Fantastic; it was the only other regularly-published U. S. professional magazine devoted to fantasy, aside from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, throughout most of those years. Despite attempts to reverse its poor sales, even as fantasy novels were reaching enormous audiences in the same years, Fantastic was merged with Amazing under Elinor Mavor's regime, in 1980.

A revival of the title, a retitling of the magazine Pirate Writings by its new publishers in 2000, was a nostalgic nod to the magazine's importance to the field.

Title changes and title confusions

A number of other magazines unrelated to the Z-D/Ultimate Fantastic have been published over the decades with the word "Fantastic" in their titles. In addition, Fantastic has had several titles on its own cover. Variant titles of Fantastic include

  • Fantastic
  • Fantastic Science Fiction
  • Fantastic Science Fiction Stories
  • Fantastic Stories Of Imagination
  • Fantastic: Science Fiction – Fantasy
  • Fantastic Stories
  • Fantastic Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy Stories

The title most likely to be confused is Fantastic Adventures, since that shared the same publishers and overlapped for some months. Other unrelated Science Fiction magazines include

  • Fantastic Novels
  • Famous Fantastic Mysteries
  • Fantastic Science Fiction (two unrelated pulp-sized issues in 1952)
  • Fantastic Story Magazine (a companion to Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1950-1955). This magazine was named Fantastic Story Quarterly until a change in publishing frequency made the name inappropriate.
  • Fantastic Universe (1953-1960)

See also

References

Brian Stableford: Fantastic, in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2nd ed 1993)

External links

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Fantastic was a fantasy and science fiction magazine published in the United States from 1952 to 1980. A sister publication, Fantastic Adventures, was merged into Fantastic beginning with May/June 1953 issue.

Contents

Ziff-Davis era

In 1938, Ziff-Davis, a Chicago-based publisher looking to expand into the pulp magazine market, acquired Amazing Stories.[1] The field rapidly expanded, with several new titles appearing over the next few years, including Fantastic Adventures, launched by Ziff-Davis in 1939 as a companion to Amazing.[2] Under the editorship of Raymond Palmer the magazines were reasonably successful but published poor quality work, and when Howard Browne took over as editor of Amazing in January 1950 he decided to try to move the magazine upmarket.[3][4] Ziff-Davis agreed to back the new magazine, and Browne put together a sample copy, but when the Korean War broke out Ziff-Davis cut their budgets and the project was abandoned.[5] Browne did not give up, and in 1952 received the go-ahead to try a new magazine instead, focused on high-quality fantasy. The first issue, dated Summer 1952, appeared on March 21 of that year.[6]

Sales were very good, and Ziff-Davis was sufficiently impressed to move the magazine from a quarterly to a bimonthly schedule after only two issues, and to switch Amazing from pulp format to digest-size to match Fantastic. Shortly afterwards the decision was taken to eliminate Fantastic Adventures: the March 1953 issue was the last, and the May–June 1953 issue of Fantastic added a mention of Fantastic Adventures to the masthead, though this disappeared again with the following issue.[6]

Fantastic was initially a success, and became even more so by its third issue, which featured a story attributed to the enormously popular crime fiction writer Mickey Spillane. The story was actually written by Browne, a crime-fiction writer and editor who had been editing the pulp magazines line Z-D published at that time, including Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and the recently-folded Mammoth Detective, among others; apparently Spillane had told a version of the story he'd previously sold to Fantastic to a reporter from Life Magazine, where it appeared ahead of the Z-D magazine's publication, leaving Browne unwilling to run the actual Spillane text.

Subsequent issues of Fantastic sold well enough for the pulp Fantastic Adventures to be merged with it in 1954; Amazing had already been reshaped to resemble Fantastic. Browne was by his own account more comfortable with fantasy fiction than with sf, and soon was concentrating his attention on his writing career; his assistant Paul W. Fairman became editor of Fantastic and Amazing in 1956, and soon established a policy of reliable mediocrity by purchasing nearly all the contents of his issues from four writers: the young Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Randall Garrett and Milton Lesser (later better known as Stephen Marlowe), all commissioned to produce a certain amount of words per month, purchased unread.

Two innovations distinguished Fairman's regime: he published the first fantasy by Kate Wilhelm, and the sales of wish-fulfilment-fantasy-themed issues of Fantastic led to a short-lived companion magazine devoted to such fiction, Dream World. Beginning in 1959, Cele Goldsmith's editorship considerably improved the magazine; among the writers whose careers began with their sales to Goldsmith's issues, Ursula K. Le Guin has particularly praised her work, as have subsequent editors Barry N. Malzberg and Ted White.

Ultimate publications era and brief revival

Z-D sold Fantastic and Amazing to Sol Cohen in 1965, who founded Ultimate Publications to publish them; after brief periods of being edited by Joseph Wrzos (or "Ross," as he signed himself), Harry Harrison, and Barry N. Malzberg, Ted White edited the magazine for a decade under trying financial circumstances, but gained much acclaim for the quality of the fiction, critical and historical nonfiction (by Fritz Leiber and others), and illustrations published by his Fantastic; it was the only other regularly-published U. S. professional magazine devoted to fantasy, aside from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, throughout most of those years. Despite attempts to reverse its poor sales, even as fantasy novels were reaching enormous audiences in the same years, Fantastic was merged with Amazing under Elinor Mavor's regime, in 1980.

A revival of the title, a retitling of the magazine Pirate Writings by its new publishers in 2000, was a nostalgic nod to the magazine's importance to the field.

Title changes and title confusions

A number of other magazines unrelated to the Z-D/Ultimate Fantastic have been published over the decades with the word "Fantastic" in their titles. In addition, Fantastic has had several titles on its own cover. Variant titles of Fantastic include

  • Fantastic
  • Fantastic Science Fiction
  • Fantastic Science Fiction Stories
  • Fantastic Stories Of Imagination
  • Fantastic: Science Fiction – Fantasy
  • Fantastic Stories
  • Fantastic Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy Stories

The title most likely to be confused is Fantastic Adventures, since that shared the same publishers and overlapped for some months. Other unrelated Science Fiction magazines include

  • Fantastic Novels
  • Famous Fantastic Mysteries
  • Fantastic Science Fiction (two unrelated pulp-sized issues in 1952)
  • Fantastic Story Magazine (a companion to Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1950-1955). This magazine was named Fantastic Story Quarterly until a change in publishing frequency made the name inappropriate.
  • Fantastic Universe (1953-1960)

Editors

The list below gives the person who was acting as editor. In some cases, such as at the start of Cele Goldsmith's stint, the official editor was not the same person; details are given above.[7]

  • Howard Browne (Summer 1952 – August 1956).
  • Paul Fairman (October 1956 – November 1958).
  • Cele Goldsmith (December 1958 – June 1965). Goldsmith used her married name, Cele G. Lalli, from July 1964.
  • Joseph Ross (September 1965 – November 1967).
  • Harry Harrison (January 1968 – October 1968).
  • Barry N. Malzberg (December 1968 – April 1969).
  • Ted White (June 1969 – January 1979)
  • Elinor Mavor (April 1979 – October 1980)

The following table shows which issues appeared from which publisher.[7][8]

Dates Publisher
Summer 1952 – June 1965 Ziff-Davis, New York
September 1965 – January 1979 Ultimate Publishing, Flushing, New York
April 1979 – October 1980 Ultimate Publishing, Purchase, New York

Derivative anthologies

Two anthologies of stories from Fantastic have been published.[7]

Year Editor Title Publisher
1967 Ivan Howard Time Untamed Belmont: New York
1973 Ted White The Best From Fantastic Manor Books: New York

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, p. 115.
  2. ^ Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 232.
  3. ^ Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 237–238.
  4. ^ Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, p. 34.
  5. ^ Ashley, Transformations, p. 4.
  6. ^ a b Ashley, Transformations, pp. 48–51.
  7. ^ a b c Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 230–231.
  8. ^ See the individual issues. For convenience, an online index is available at "Magazine:Fantastic – ISFDB". Al von Ruff. http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/index.php/Magazine:Fantastic. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 

External links


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