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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.

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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”?

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