Yesterday's Tomorrows

by Martin Lock

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, in the Late Fifties...


Some sf magazines last longer than others, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction must be second only to Astounding/Analog for continuous publication, as it began in 1949, and is still going strong after seven decades. The Emsh cover this time is called "Disintegration of a Field-Force" and doesn't refer to any of the stories inside.  As for the 48-page short novel that leads of this February 1957 issue, let me quote Anthony Boucher's introduction:  "Here is the final story in the trilogy which began with 'A Canticle for Leibowicz' (F&SF, April 1953) and continued with 'And the Light Is Risen' (F&SF, August 1956).  Like its predecessors, it is a story of beauty and of evil, of love and tenderness and sin and violence and hatred, of humor and bitterness, of despair and redemption - in short, a story of Man, once more seen through the compassionate and troubled eyes of the Albertian Order of St. Leibowicz, which even now must face the possible annihilation of Earth and learn to guide men on a world elsewhere."  The three-part novel was published in 1959, with Anthony Boucher among those to whom Walter M. Miller Jr offered his "appreciation and gratitude."

Also present in this issue are Fredric Brown, August Derleth, Arthur C. Clarke (with the last two of his six "Venture to the Moon" tales), G. C. Edmondson, Manly Wade Wellman, and Poul Anderson.  As well, we travel through time and space with Ferdinand Feghoot ("No Potpourri!"), courtesy of "Grendel Briarton" and end with a poem, "The Antique Heroes," by C. Day Lewis.  Boucher's five-page 'Recommended Reading' starts with the good news that "Science fiction sales are zooming up," and includes reviews of 'To Live Forever' by Jack Vance, 'The Secret People' by Raymond F. Jones, and 'Lucky Star [sic] and the Big Sun of Mercury' by Paul "Isaac Asimov" French... did they have auto-correct in the fifties...?

The 13-page article is by Sam Moskowitz, and our editor  emphasises "the tremendous labor of research that has gone into this article - a permanently valuable footnote to English philology and to the history of American letters."  Its subject? "How Science Fiction Got Its Name."


Next, here's the October 1957 issue: "Cover by Emsh" of course, illustrating Fritz Leiber's five-page story at the back of the issue, "The Big Trek."

The lead novelet this time is "The Chestnut Beads" by Jane Roberts; a sequel, "The Bundu," appeared six months later.  The other novelet is "Full Pack (Hokas Wild)" by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, which seems to be the first Hoka tale after the first 'Earthman's Burden' collection; shorter works are by Robert F. Young, H. P. Lovecraft & August Derleth, George P. Elliot, Lewis Carroll ("Photography Extraordinary," with no previous appearance known by the isfdb), Richard Matheson, and Douglas Angus.  There is a 17-page article by L. Sprague de Camp, "How to Talk Futurian," which is to do with the language of the future, rather than a reference to sf fandom.  Editor Anthony Boucher was left three pages in which to review 'No Blade of Grass' by John Christopher, 'On the Beach' by Nevil Shute, 'The Green Odyssey' by Philip José Farmer, 'Re-Enter Fu Manchu' by Sax Rohmer, 'Colonial Survey' by Murray Leinster, 'Two Sought Adventure' by Fritz Leiber, and more...

In the introduction to "The Lamp of Alhazred" by Lovecraft & Derleth, Boucher says "In this story the collaborator was inspired to introduce, as the protagonist of a projected Lovecraft story, the author himself.  Shaping the figure lovingly from personal memory, strengthening it with excerpts from H.P.L.'s letters and other writings, Derleth has created something unique: a tale of the eery [sic] and arcane which is also warmly human."  It also appears in 'The Survivor and Others,' published by Arkham House at around the same time.

Moving on to the following February, we have another Ed Emshwiller cover. "Despite the differing lengths of their by-lines, old pro Ed Emsh and new pro Carol Emshwiller are husband and wife.  Up until now, their professional careers have followed separate courses; but when Mrs. E. wrote a story of particular visual appeal, Mr. E. seemed the obvious artist from whom to commission a cover.  It's a fitting coincidence that this object of marital collaboration should be called 'Baby'..."  That was the introduction by editor Anthony Boucher to the last story in the February 1958 issue of F&SF.

There's an impressive line-up of names on the fiction front here, with Chad Oliver leading off the issue, followed by Rog Phillips, Robert Silverberg, Zenna Henderson (though it's Chad Oliver's story that is entitled "Pilgrimage"), Allen Kim Lang, Avram Davidson, Poul Anderson, Mary-Carter Roberts, and Charles L. Fontenay.  And there's even Isaac Asimov in the issue - with his poem, "I Just Make Them Up, See!"  The three pages of "Recommended Reading" touches on 'Atlas Shrugged' (but mainly to say Boucher refuses to wade through its 1,168 pages), and reviews 'Doomsday Morning' by C. L. Moore, 'Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter' by Asimov, 'Citizen of the Galaxy' by Robert A. Heinlein, and two collections deemed "variable" - 'Pilgrimage to Earth' by Robert Sheckley, and 'The Variable Man' by Philip K. Dick.  But if you could only afford to buy one book, you are advised to spend $2.95 on 'Famous Science-Fiction Stories,' a retitling of 1946's 'Adventures in Time and Space,' edited by Raymond J. Healey and J. Francis McComas.

Apparently, founding editors Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas had approached Lawrence E. Spivak in the mid-1940s about creating a fantasy companion to Spivak's existing mystery title, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Spivak had founded Mercury Publications in 1937, and departed in 1954.  The first issue was just "The Magazine of Fantasy," but the decision was quickly made to include science fiction as well, and the second issue, on a quarterly schedule, had the full title we've come to know so well.  While Astounding was already in the digest size, along with some long-running titles like Doc Savage and The Shadow, F&SF was different - no letters column, no interior illustrations, and only a single column of text, like a book, per page.  

Anthony Boucher became the sole editor in 1954, followed in 1958 by Robert P. Mills, then Avram Davidson for a little under three years, then Joseph W. Ferman, then Edward L. Ferman from 1966 to 1991... quite a run, though of course John W. Campbell Jr took charge of Astounding Stories in 1937, and continued as editor up to 1971, by which time he had updated it to Analog.  Stanley Schmidt didn't do badly there either, running from 1978 to 2013.  Anyway, with 260 pages and a bimonthly schedule, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is still with us, even if the stars of those 1950s issues aren't.

CONTENTS