Astounding Science Fiction
Astouding Science Fiction (ASF), now Analog, is the longest-running SF prozine and, more than any other prozine, was responsible for the formation of modern sf.
In the ’30s, ASF was just another sf adventure prozine, though it did have high points like Murray Leinster's Sidewise in Time and a number of stories by Don A. Stuart (John W. Campbell), which made it the leader in the field. That changed, when Campbell was hired as editor in 1937, and by the end of 1938, he was publishing a markedly higher grade of sf.
And it got better. Starting in 1939, Campbell discovered and published work by new writers such as Heinlein, Asimov, de Camp, van Vogt and Clement, as well as some of the greatest works of earlier writers such as Jack Williamson, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore and others. Modern SF grew from those roots.
The lettercolumn, “Brass Tacks,” engendered much early fan correspondence; it was the battleground of the First Staple War and printed the first Tucker Death Hoax. In the 1930s, a person who wrote letters to “Brass Tacks” was called a “Brass Tacker.”
A book review column, “The Reference Library,” started in the 1940s and continues today. The most notable writers were P. Schuyler Miller (October 1951–1974) and Tom Easton (1979– 2009).
After the war, ASF was no longer the unchallenged leader, with new prozines, like F&SF and Galaxy, starting, which took the new standard of sf writing that Campbell had pioneered and expanded on it.
In the 1950s and ’60s, ASF appeared somewhat tired, partly because the competition had so improved, and partly because Campbell had become a bit of a crank, pushing silly pseudoscience (Psi, the Dean Drive, Dianetics, Hieronymus Machines, etc.) along with sf.
After Campbell's death, Ben Bova took over as editor and reinvigorated the magazine without changing its basic identity. Stanley Schmidt continued the tradition, but ASF now seems to be caught in the general shrinkage that has diminished all of the prozines.
Astounding was initially published by Publisher's Fiscal Corporation, which became Clayton Magazines in March, 1931. Clayton Magazines, Inc., New York City, was founded by William Mann Clayton (1884 - 1946).
Clayton, a successful publisher of several pulp magazine titles (Snappy Stories, a men's magazine which was launched in 1912) considered starting an SF 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.
The following year, however, Clayton 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 period adventure stories. Bates proposed instead an SF pulp, to be titled Astounding Stories of Super Science, and Clayton agreed.
|Jan, 1930||Harry Bates||Astounding Stories of Super-Science first published by Clayton|
|Feb, 1931||Harry Bates||Retitled Astounding Stories|
|Oct, 1933||Harry Bates||Now published by Street & Smith|
|Dec, 1933||F. Orlin Tremaine||New editor|
|Dec, 1937||John W. Campbell||New editor|
|Mar 1938||John W. Campbell||Retitled Astounding Science Fiction|
|Nov 1943||John W. Campbell||Switch to digest size.|
|Aug 1959||John W. Campbell||Now published by Conde Nast|
|Feb 1960||John W. Campbell||Title begins to change to Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction|
|Oct 1960||John W. Campbell||Title change to Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction complete|
|Mar 1963||John W. Campbell||Switch to large size.|
|Apr 1965||John W. Campbell||Return to digest size, title reversed to changed to Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact.|
|Jan 1972||Ben Bova||New editor|
|Dec 1978||Stanley Schmidt||New editor|
|1980||Stanley Schmidt||Now published by Davis Publications|
|1992||Stanley Schmidt||Now published by Dell Magazines|
|1996||Stanley Schmidt||Dell Magazines sold to Crosstown Publications, owners of Penny Publications|
|2012||Trevor Quachri||New editor|
Astounding (ASF) changed its name to Analog (or, more properly, Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 1960. (Campbell had always disliked the name "Astounding" and had planned on dropping it in 1938, but was forestalled when another (short-lived) magazine used his planned name of "Science Fiction".)
The variants Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, Science Fiction & Fact, Science Fiction and Fact all seem to depend on the masthead layout, the current form is Science Fiction and Fact.
- Internet Archive copies of Astounding.
- Official website.
- Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Astounding).
- Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Analog).
- Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (2018).
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