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.