Volume 1, Number 1

FFS 1 1

So it begins! And isn’t she a beauty? A redheaded bombshell and a weird green muppet,  everything I like in my fantasy.

You’ll notice that this isn’t Science Fiction and Fantasy, just Fantasy. That’s true for only the first issue. It’ll be interesting to see what changes. The introduction, written by publisher Lawrence E. Spivak, mostly laments the sad state of fantasy publishing in 1949. It was consigned to pulp magazines and considered too “immaterial” for the modern world. Alas, little has changed. Although fantasy is definately published, it tends to be ghettoized and seen as unsubstantive escapism, kids books or nerd nonsense, not suitable for serious adult, or, God forbid, academics. Hopefully, the overwhelming popularity of stories like Game of Thrones is breaking through this, but we still have a long way to go.  Lawrence, I feel you.

Another thing that caught my attention  was the introduction of the editors. The men themselves didn’t capture my imagination, but the description of their libraries did. I’ll just quote it for you:

Between them they posses (with occasional bitter blood-feuds over who owns what) one of the most comprehensive libraries of fantasy fiction ever assembled, from long out-of-print masterpieces or otherwise unavailable foreign works to thorough files of every important modern magazine in the field.

Never mind the questions this raises about their living situation (does this mean they have a joint library? are they a couple? would they be less candid about their library if they were?), never mind how incredible such a place must be (they should make it a museum, a research library, a shrine!). No, what struck me most here is how important library-building must have been before the internet. I’m a notorious book collector–I’ve well-overfilled my bookshelves and keep buying books, someone stop me–but there’s never been any urgency to it. If I read a cool story in an anthology, I can always find it later. Everything is on the internet. I google the title, and 80% of the time I can find the text online for free, and the other 20% I can buy whatever volume off Amazon, used if it’s not still in print. I sometimes forget how new and unusual these luxuries are.

Ha! I haven’t even read the first story and I’m already reflecting on modern life.

Nuts and bolts: Vol 1. Num. 1 was published in Fall, 1949 (I couldn’t find a month), and contains 128 pages and eleven stories, plus the introduction. It was edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas and published by Lawrence E. Spivak. The cover was done by Bill Stone. One of the authors is a woman (Winona McClintic!) and one goes only by initials, so who even knows.

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4 thoughts on “Volume 1, Number 1

  1. H. H. Holmes is another pseudonym, along with Anthony Boucher, for editor William A. P. White, for whom Anthony really was his second name and most called him Tony if they knew him at all. Holmes was also one of the pseudonyms affected by the Chicago World’s Fair mass-murderer whom Robert Bloch would write about in the novel AMERICAN GOTHIC and the long essay “Dr, Holmes’ Murder House” and Erik Larson would later write about in his bestselling THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. Boucher was also writing book review columns as Boucher for THE NEW YORK TIMES and, as Holmes, for THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE at the same time…and would sign light filler verse in pages of F&SF with another name affected by the Chicago loon, Herman W. Mudgett. Boucher loved his grim jokes. (The writer Barry Malzberg remembers being a bit chilled when listening to Boucher’s 1960s Pacifica Radio opera program, which was heard nationally on public radio stations affiliated with Pacifica, and Boucher discussed briefly the plight of castrati at the time of that practice, and he couldn’t help chuckling at one point.)

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  2. It’ll be fascinating to see your reaction to these magazines and stories two generations on, so I hope you manage to keep it up.
    The copyright date of the first magazine is 8th September 1949, which I guess was also the publication date (the magazine regularly had the October issue–out in September–as its anniversary edition).
    If you want to know more about Boucher and McComas, you may want to get hold of a copy of ‘The Eureka Years,’ by Annette McComas, Bantam, 1982, although there is other stuff on the web.

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  3. Pingback: The Magazine of Fantasy #1, Fall 1949 | SF MAGAZINES

  4. Enjoy your reading! This is a fascinating project. You like some of the stories more than I do, and dislike some stories I quite like (which means I think you’re reading carefully and thinking for yourself!). F&SF is one of the great sf/f magazines and as you go through you’ll find much to enjoy (and probably much to argue with). Look forward to reading more of your blog.

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