Buy F&SF • Read F&SF • Contact F&SF • Advertise In F&SF • Blog • Forum • RSS

F&SF, March 1954

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, March 1954, cover by Kirberger#‎TBT‬ to the March 1954 F&SF. Fred Kirberger’s cover illustrates “5,271,009” by Alfred Bester.

“5,271,009” is Bester at his typically atypical, a structural tour-de-force that plays Dickian mind games. In this story, the protagonist, Solon Aquila, shifts into various sf premises, Walter-Mitty-like-but-real, which Bester then desconstructs. Several sources indicate that F&SF‘s editors showed Bester the cover art and he came up with the story to match.

But Bester’s novelet is only one of three famous stories in this issue. “Bulletin” by Shirley Jackson is a collection of documents found in the returned briefcase of a missing time traveler. The third story is “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, about sunshine on Venus and the cruelty of schoolchildren. The editors knew that these were special stories at the time – Bester, Bradbury, and Jackson’s names are emblazoned first across the cover. The issue also features “Call Me From The Valley,” a John the Balladeer story, by Manly Wade Wellman, part of a popular series at the time.

The rest of the issue shows the usual range of stories, famous names, and newcomers, that you expect from any issue of F&SF. “Mrs. Hinck” by Miriam Allen DeFord is an understated tale of domestic horror, playing on the worst fears of parents. “Spunk Water” by Bill Brown is a homey comic fantasy about a goose, gold, and, as Tom Sawyer knows, the magic power of old stump water. “Man Friday” by Roger Dee is a Martian Crusoe story and “The Firefighter” by Roger Abernathy feels like a theme-and-variation on Fahrenheit 451.

Two other stories in the issue bear special mention. “The Last Caper” by Charles Beaumont is a noir story set on Venus, by “one of the most rapidly rising younger authors of science-fantasy.” In the intro to Beaumont’s story, F&SF‘s editors say they can no longer stay “aloof from excesses of sex and sadism.” They expand: “If the literature of today is harsh and violent, surely we can expect even more emphasis on such qualities in the literature of the future.” The violence in Beaumont’s story seems tame by today’s standards, so perhaps Boucher and McComas were onto something.

The cover of this issue promises “a selection of the best stories of fantasy and science fiction, new and old,” but the issue has only one old story, “Sriberdegibit” by Anthony Boucher, a reprint first published by John Campbell in Unknown Worlds in 1943. Boucher wrote his own introduction for this clever man-out-smarting-a-demon-he-summoned story. The story shows Boucher’s love for the genre and the ability to play with the tropes that made him such a good editor for others.

Interview: Cat Rambo on “Red in Tooth and Cog”

– Tell us a bit about “Red in Tooth and Cog.”

The title, “Red in Tooth and Cog,” is a play on a passage from Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H.

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed

The story deals, in its way, with issues of memory and what’s left behind, in several ways, from the opals on the phone case to the discarded appliances and then finally to the story’s conclusion. In the end, it is perhaps through acts of kindness that we can best survive — but we should choose them carefully.


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

The idea of appliances with AI going feral after being discarded came to me, and it seemed like it would be fun to do.


– Was “Red in Tooth and Cog” personal to you in any way? If so, how?

I wanted to hit at that horrified moment one can have where you realize good intentions have gone awry and we’ve hurt someone. I’m reasonably sure most of us know the feeling. Communication is so fraught with potential misunderstandings and even more so when you’re dealing with nonhuman intelligences.

In another way this story is deeply meaningful. I’ve been sending submissions to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for over a decade and after (literally) dozens of submissions, it is deeply satisfying to finally appear in its pages.


– What kind of research, if any, did you do for this story?

I didn’t research, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about what the park and its inhabitants looked like.


– You’re almost a year into your term as SFWA President. Has this experience given you any new perspective on your own writing, or the field in general?

I certainly have learned plenty in my time so far, abundantly so. I don’t know that a lot of it has been about writing so much as how to fiercely defend one’s writing time despite an onslaught of demands and people going “SFWA should” with expectant looks on their faces.

One of the nice things about letting indie writers in last year has been that many of the new members have been very generous with sharing their knowledge of and experience with independent publishing, so I’ve learned a great deal about that side of things.

I’ve come to an even deeper appreciation of the team — particularly Kate Baker, Maggie Hogarth, Bud Sparhawk, and Steven H Silver — and how lucky I am to be working with them. Maggie recently agreed to run for a second term as Vice President, and I’m looking forward to another year of amazing stuff, particularly since I know some of the nifty things coming down the pike. :)


“Red in Tooth and Cog” appears in the March/April 2016 issue of F&SF.  You can buy that issue here:

You can subscribe to F&SF here:

Visit Cat Rambo’s website at:

Interview: James L. Cambias on “Golden Gate Blues”

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

“Blues” came out of a conversation I had with my daughter as we were driving home one night from someplace about a year ago. She was mentioning how the Golden Gate Bridge gets clobbered in practically every monster movie. One of us, and I don’t remember if it was me or my daughter, said in a fake Don LaFontaine voice, “The Bridge is back, and this time it’s personal.” And then I realized that was a great story idea. Since the Golden Gate Bridge is in San Francisco, I naturally had to include a private detective, and the elements sort of fell into place after that.


– Was “Golden Gate Blues” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Because of its genesis, it’s kind of an uncredited collaboration with my daughter, so I deliberately gave the protagonist a daughter of his own (slightly younger than mine was at the time we came up with “Blues”) and made their relationship one strand of the story. I did something similar several years ago with my story “The Dinosaur Train” which was inspired by my son (who at that point was a preschooler) playing with his toy train loaded with plastic dinosaurs. So that one focuses on relationships between fathers and sons.


– Tell us a bit about “Golden Gate Blues.”

It’s a modern-day San Francisco film noir story set in a world where action thrillers, monster movies, and superhero comics are true. My main character is Anthony Mace, a small-time private eye (who can’t actually afford San Francisco office rent, so he works out of San Bruno instead). He’s hired by a retired supervillain to investigate the suspicious death of a giant octopus, and it just gets crazier from there.


– What are you working on now?

I am just this week finishing the first draft of my next novel, which has the working title _Arkad’s World_. It’s a science fiction novel about a boy growing up as the only human on a world inhabited by multiple alien species. Once that’s out the door I will probably write a few short stories, but I haven’t decided which ideas to work on yet.

You can read my random thoughts on a variety of topics at my blog:


“Golden Gate Blues” appears in the March/April 2016 issue of F&SF.  You can buy that issue here:

You can subscribe to F&SF here:

Editor’s Note for Mar/Apr 2016

The March/April issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is now on sale! You can order a single copy of the issue from our website or buy an electronic edition from Amazon or AmazonUK.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2016, cover by Jason Van HollanderThis month’s cover art is by Jason Van Hollander, winner of the International Horror Guild Award for Art and two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award for best artist. In 2004, he contributed a Curiosities column about Josephine Pinckney to our pages, but this is his first cover for us. You can see more examples of his work at his website,, where we encourage you in particular to check out his Hell Stamps collection. That’s because this month’s cover illustrates Marc Laidlaw’s story “The Ghost Penny Post.”


Marc Laidlaw is probably best known to readers of Fantasy & Science Fiction for his fantasy adventure tales of Gorlen Vizenfirth the bard and Spar the gargoyle, and the peculiar curse that binds them. The Gorlen and Spar stories have been appearing intermittently in our pages for twenty years, most recently with “Rooksnight,” our cover story for May/June 2014.

But few people know that Marc Laidlaw’s first appearance in F&SF came in the form of a Letter to the Editor back in our January 1977 issue, published when he was just 16 years old and neither email nor internet forums had yet displaced the time-tested system of setting one’s thoughts down on paper and transferring them across vast distances by the simple act of affixing a stamp and entrusting them to the care of the local postal service. That seems especially appropriate for this month’s cover story, a different kind of fantasy adventure that harkens back to those earlier, but most certainly not simpler, days.


We have other fantasy and horror-tinged stories in this issue. This month’s novella is “The Liar” by John Murphy, his first appearance in F&SF. If you’ve ever wondered what the result would be like if Garrison Keillor wrote a Stephen King story then look no further. Justin Barbeau introduced us to Nanabojou, the old trickster, in our November/December 2014 issue with “Nanabojou at the World’s Fair.” He returns this month to tackle “Nanabojou and the Race Question.” It’s been a few years since James Cambias last appeared in the magazine, but he comes back in monster-sized fashion with a monster movie inspired story, “Golden Gate Blues.”

But our magazine also promises science fiction, and we deliver that as well. Cat Rambo’s “Red in Tooth and Cog” is a story about a different kind of urban wildlife. Back in 1986, Nancy Kress won the Nebula Award for “Out of All Them Bright Stars,” which appeared in our pages. We’re glad to have her back with “Belief,” a thoughtful and thought-provoking story about science and faith. Sheila Finch’s Guild of Xenolinguist stories have been appearing in F&SF for more than twenty-five years. Juliette Wade has been exploring similar issues with stories set in her Allied Systems universe. This month the two of them collaborate to bring us a new Lingster story, “The Language of the Silent.” Chris DeVito brings a short piece of speculative baseball fiction with “Diamond.” And N.J. Schrock is a Ph.D. chemist who makes her fiction debut with “The Silver Strands of Alpha Crucis-d.”


Every issue features one story that we also offer for free download online, via our free electronic digest for Kindle. (The UK version is available here.) This month’s free story — which you can also find in the print edition — is “A Mother’s Arms” by Sarina Dorie. Science fiction has a rich tradition of stories told from alien points-of-view. One of the most delightful and unexpected adventures we’ve read recently in this vein was Sarina Dorie’s “The Day of the Nuptial Flight” in our July/August 2014 issue. With this new story, Dorie returns to that unnamed planet and offers us another perspective on the recent human arrivals.

Even if you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can click on this link and read Dorie’s story and all the columns in the issue for free.


In Books to Look For, Charles de Lint reviews Carry On and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Malediction and Boundary Lines by Melissa F. Olsen, Dead Heat and Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. For Musing On Books, Michelle West reviews An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff, An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet, Slade House by David Mitchell, The Vagrant by Peter Newman, and Arkwright by Allen Steele. Kathi Maio takes a close look at movies about Mars and reviews The Martian, Paul Di Filippo brings us “The Prince and the Pulpster” in his latest Plumage from Pegasus, and Douglas Anderson’s Curiosities column considers Monk’s Magic, the 1931 novel by Alexander de Comeau.


After you read the issue, we hope you’ll share your thoughts on one of these sites:

In the meantime… enjoy!

C.C. Finlay
Fantasy & Science Fiction

« Previous Page

Copyright © 2006–2020 The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction • All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Powered by WordPress • Theme based on Whitespace theme by Brian Gardner
If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to

Designed by Rodger Turner and Hosted by:
SF Site spot art