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F&SF, February 1991

For the past six or seven months, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, Feb 1991, cover by Steve Vance#‎TBT‬ to the February 1991 F&SF. Steve Vance’s cover illustrates Paul Di Filippo’s alternate history story “Mairzy Doats.”

The issue leads with “Ma Qui” by Alan Brennert, a ghost story about imperialism and the Vietnam War. It won the Nebula Award the same year that Brennert won an Emmy Award for his work as a producer and writer on L.A. Law. Brennert was runner-up for the 1975 Campbell Award. He probably isn’t a household name in science fiction but his work is well known. He was a writer, story editor, and producer on genre tv shows like Wonder Woman, Buck Rogers in the 21st Century, The New Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Stargate Atlantis, and Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as other shows like L.A. Law. He also wrote comics for DC and Marvel, including Detective Comics #500, which introduced Barbara Kean Gordon, now featured in tv’s Gotham. These days he writes best-selling historical novels, returning to the kinds of research and themes of racial discrimination found in “Ma Qui.”

The cover story, “Mairzy Doats” by Paul Di Filippo, is a nostalgic and funny alternate history featuring a plausibly elected President Robert Heinlein. This story was recently reprinted in Di Filippo’s collection of alternate history stories, Lost Pages.

The rest of the stories in the issue show the usual range of subgenres that you expect in any copy of F&SF. “The Breaking-Up Yard” by John Griesemer is a historical fantasy about a shipwreck in the arctic in the 1830s. Peg Kerr’s “Athena Keramitis” is a near-future medical sf story. “Micro Macho” by Thomas A. Easton skewers big game hunting. “Reaper” by James Alan Gardner is a grim reaper story variation. “The Beastbreaker” by Ray Aldridge is an exoplanet adventure in his Dilvermoon series.

The issue closes with “Raccoon Music” by Sheri S. Tepper, one of her Crazy Carol Magnuson stories, in which a woman celebrates her fiftieth birthday by driving her junker car across Colorado, where it breaks down in the middle of nowhere and an adventure ensues.

Algis Budrys’s book column is devoted entirely to Kathe Koja, and Orson Scott Card’s Books to Look For focuses on non-fiction. Isaac Asimov’s science column starts with his lunch with Gorbachev, an example of the importance for scientists to talk to non-scientists. He ends the anecdote with an observation about why writes his science column for F&SF

It seems to me extremely important that scientists should spend an adequate portion of their time speaking to non-scientists, trying to get across to the wider public what science means, what scientists have done and are doing, and, just as important, perhaps gathering what the wider public thinks of science and what its hopes and fears of science and technology might be.
It is because of this belief of mine that I have spent so large a portion of my life writing and speaking about science and technology to the general public. And it is the essay series in this magazine, which has been continuing now, without a break, for a third of a century, that I consider my most important contribution in this direction.

…before turning to a more practical discussion of the history and science of the electronic production of images.

This issue, which came out 25 years ago this month, is one of the last five edited by Ed Ferman before he passed the reins to Kristine Kathryn Rusch

F&SF, February 1975

For the past six or seven months, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

* * *

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Feb 1975, cover by David Hardy#‎TBT‬ to February 1975 F&SF and this untitled David Hardy cover. Hardy’s dinosaur in outer space cover doesn’t illustrate any story in the issue, but even today it seems ready to inspire one.

In many ways, this is a typical 1970s issue of F&SF: a novella, a piece of flash, 3 series stories, 2 Nebula finalists, a lot of big names.

Phyllis Eisenstein’s novella and the lead story for the issue is “The Lords of All Power,” one of her early Alaric the Minstrel tales. The introduction says “This story concludes the vastly entertaining series about Alaric…” It was right about the entertaining. Also wrong. Eisenstein returned to Alaric several times, most recently with “The Caravan to Nowhere” (F&SF, June 2014). A new Alaric tale, with revelations about the character and his world, will appear in F&SF this summer. One of our longest running series.

The issue’s shortest tale is also about a storyteller. “Innocence” by Joanna Russ is another of her delightfully sharp-edged sf flash pieces.

John Varley’s “Retrograde Summer” is an Eight Worlds novelet set on Mercury. It was nominated for the Nebula in 1976. “Polly Charms, The Sleeping Woman” by Avram Davidson is one of his Doctor Eszterhazy stories and another 1976 Nebula novelette nominee.

“The Killing of Mother Corn” by famed comics writer Dennis O’Neil, “With The Evening News” by Richard Lupoff, and “Something Had to Be Done” by David Drake round out the issue, giving it a range of genre, tone, and high quality stories.

This issue is notable for containing an editorial by Ed Ferman, who wrote only 4 of them during his 36 years as editor and publisher. But those seeking scintillating or controversial opinions will be disappointed. The editorial explains F&SF’s first price increase in years.

Baird Searles’ column focuses on television, including the Planet of the Apes and Night Stalker series, about which he is fairly critical. Searles opines “As an alternative to the TV series form developed in this country, there is the British method of making serials – so far most adapted from literature – that do have a definite limit and do actually have a conclusion – infinitely more satisfactory.” It seems like a prescient observation, given the way genre TV series are made today.

There’s also Isaac Asimov’s science column, Gahan Wilson’s book reviews, a Gahan Wilson cartoon, and an F&SF Competition. Competition winners include Greg Hartmann and Steve Utley, both of whom later went on to publish fiction in F&SF. When F&SF’s next Competition results appear in the May/June issue, will it be another chance to play “Spot the Future Writer”?

F&SF, February 1966

For the past six or seven months, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

* * *

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Feb 1966, cover by George Salter#TBT to the Feb 1966 F&SF. George Salter’s art (for Bretnor’s “The Gadge System”) was his last cover for F&SF before he passed away. The issue has stories by R. Bretnor, Doris Pitkin Buck, Miriam Allen DeFord, Randall Garrett, Joanna Russ, Jack Vance and more.

But let’s start with the cover. As a graphic designer, Salter revolutionized book cover art in Europe and the US. You can read a brief summary of his accomplishments here. And you can check out some representative samples of his work here.

Salter was also F&SF’s art editor from 1949 to 1958. He designed the original calligraphic logo for F&SF, created the look of the magazine, and illustrated many early covers. We posted a gallery of Salter’s striking F&SF covers from the early 1950s on the blog earlier today.

George Salter's end mark for F&SFYou can still find Salter’s work in every issue of F&SF in the distinctive filigree F end mark at the end of the stories. Here is a picture of it from the end of a story in the January/February 2016 issue.

The February 1966 F&SF is balanced generally toward sf stories. The exception is Vance’s Cugel the Clever tale “The Mountains of Magnatz.” Other notable stories are “The New Men” by Joanna Russ and “An Afternoon in May” by Richard Winkler, reprinted from a defunct lit mag.

Judith Merril’s book column covers the paperback publication of Tolkien’s trilogy and the controversy over Ace’s failure to pay him royalties. Plus there are the usual science columns by Isaac Asimov and Theodore Thomas, and a cartoon by Gahan Wilson.

The issue opens with an editorial by assistant editor Ted White describing the “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts. Some selected highlights:

“We watched several new writers come up this way, battling rejection slips to finally find their way into our pages.”

“We rejected over a dozen stories by Larry Niven before we enthusiastically bought his ‘Becalmed In Hell’ for our July issue last year.”

“Tom Disch followed the same route—and rubbed our face in it when he pointed out that we’d bounced a story of his we later admired….”

“It is a rare issue of this Magazine when we do not have a ‘first’ story by an author new to print, or new to our field.”

White’s observations are just as true in 2016 as they were in 1966.

The back cover is another in the series of famous people reading F&SF. No Gabor this time… but Louis Armstrong, Hugo Gernsback, and others!

Back cover, F&SF February 1966

A Gallery of George Salter F&SF Covers

As a graphic designer, George Salter (1897-1967) revolutionized book cover art in Europe and the US. Salter was also F&SF’s first art editor, serving from 1949 to 1958. He designed the original calligraphic logo for F&SF and created the distinctive visual design of the magazine. He also illustrated many of the magazine’s early covers. This February marks the 50th anniversary of his final cover for F&SF, so we thought we’d share a gallery of his work.

Images courtesy of the Internet Science Fiction Data Base, or isfdb and Galactic Central and the Visual Index of Science Fiction Cover Art.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Winter/Spring 1950, cover by George Salter

Winter/Spring 1950, Issue #2

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Summer 1950, cover by George Salter

Winter/Spring 1950, Issue #3

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fall 1950, cover by George Salter

Fall 1950, Issue #4

Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1951, cover by George Salter

February 1951, Issue #6

Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1951, cover by George Salter

April 1951, Issue #7

Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1951, cover by George Salter

June 1951, Issue #8

Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1951, cover by George Salter

October 1951, Issue #10

Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1951, cover by George Salter

December 1951, Issue #11

Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1952, cover by George Salter

April 1952, Issue #13

Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1955, cover by George Salter

June 1955, Issue #49

Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1966, cover by George Salter

February 1966, Issue #177

Interview: Leo Vladimirsky on “Squidtown”

– Tell us a bit about “Squidtown.”

Squidtown takes place in the same world as Collar, which you guys so kindly published a few years ago. It’s part of the ‘Freeport’ universe, a world I’ve been slowly developing, story-by-story, that’s inspired by the Hanseatic League. I’ve been trying to build an alternate future for the world (our world) by extrapolating and exaggerating certain things.


– What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Originally Squidtown was a sort of cyberpunky-heist story that began with the first line (unchanged since the first draft.) But the more I worked on it, the more I became intrigued in the place itself, and the crime aspect fell away. The story is inspired by a few things: particularly the rapid gentrification happening all over the world and our corollary romanticizing of decay (of which I am guilty) and the way that we see the world as permanent even though it is the exact opposite. Everything in this story (and in the real world) is about change, and yet we refuse to accept that change is the norm.


– What kind of research, if any, did you do for “Squidtown?”

I did a bit of reading about how people can function without tongues (or with partial tongues) as I was curious what kinds of sounds they made, how they might eat or taste or drink. A lot of the other visual descriptions come from things lodged in my head: squidtown is a bad translate of the nickname for Hakodate, a city in Hokkaido, and the Squidtown in the story is a mishmosh of the Seaport in NYC, San Pedro in LA, and Hakodate as well.


– What are you working on now?

I am in the thick of writing a novel based on an unpublished short story (‘The Horrorists’) I wrote at Clarion West last year. I’d say it’s about half-way done to a first draft that I could show to another person without them laughing in my face. I’ve got a box full of stories from Clarion that need attending to, but I thought I’d try to get to a novel first. I also, slowly, am trying to sort out the Freeport universe, as that will probably be the next big project I tackle.

“Squidtown” appears in the January/February 2016 issue of F&SF.

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