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An Interview With Bhen

By the Anonymous Interviewer
(henceforth to be knows as AI)

with special thanks to David A. Hardy

Bhen by David A. HardyAI: Bhen, I hear it is your fortieth birthday this year?

B: Well, not really. It’s just forty years since you humans became aware of my existence because David Hardy started portraying some of my exploits, which from 1975 appeared on the cover of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction or F&SF. But as it happens I am 397 of your years old this month.

AI: But I read somewhere (it might have been Ansible, or Critical Wave) that Dave and his cartoonist friend Anthony Naylor created you out of green Plasticine one drunken evening in 1973?

B: Hah! That’s a story they cooked up another drunken evening. I mean, who’s going to believe that I really exist? Do you?

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A Gallery of Bhen F&SF Covers

Most covers for Fantasy & Science Fiction illustrate a particular story. But in 1975, when public interest in NASA and space exploration seemed to be declining, David A. Hardy created an illustration to draw attention to NASA’s work and make space seem fun again. He named the alien Bhen (we’ll find out why in an interview with Bhen coming to the blog on Friday), and over the next 40 years the fun-loving big green alien appeared on a dozen F&SF covers, including the current November/December 2015 issue.

Here are all the covers, collected in one place for the first time.

(To see high resolution images of the Bhen illustrations, uncluttered by F&SF logos and text, as well some of Bhen’s non-F&SF appearances, visit David Hardy’s webpage at

Some images courtesy of

Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1975, cover by David Hardy

1. November 1975

The very first Bhen cover! Bhen discovers the Viking I on Mars. The Viking I was sent to discover life, but life discovered it first.

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Two F&SF Stories On 2015 Sturgeon List

Theodore SturgeonOn May 11, the finalists for the 2015 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short SF of 2014 were announced by The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. This year’s list includes two stories from F&SF, “In Her Eyes” by Seth Chambers (Jan/Feb 2014) and “The Lightness of the Movement” by Pat MacEwan (Mar/Apr 2014).

Both “In Her Eyes” by Seth Chambers and “The Lightness of the Movement” by Pat MacEwan were also named 2014 James Tiptree Jr. Awards Honors stories.

The annual award honors short fiction in the spirit of Theodore Sturgeon, who was closely identified with the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Sturgeon is famous for his novel More Than Human, his book reviews, and the episodes he wrote for the original Star Trek series. But he is best known for the more than 200 stories he wrote.

Sturgeon’s frequently reprinted story “The Hurkle is a Happy Beast” was published in Fall 1949 in the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and then selected for inclusion in The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1950. With its second issue, the new periodical changed its name to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Sturgeon published more than a dozen stories in F&SF between the first issue and 1983, including 1960 Hugo finalist “The Man Who Lost the Sea,” 1963 Hugo finalist for novella “When You Care, When You Love,” and 1969 Nebula finalist “The Man Who Learned Loving.”

The Sturgeon Memorial Award is selected by a jury that consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Nöel Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate. A complete list of this year’s finalists may be found at The awards will be presented during the Campbell Conference on Friday, June 12, as part of the Campbell Conference held annually at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

“The Fisher Queen” is a Shirley Jackson Award finalist

Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2014On May 7, the finalists for the 2014 Shirley Jackson Awards were announced and they include “The Fisher Queen” by Alyssa Wong from the May/June issue of F&SF.

“The Fisher Queen” is also a finalist for this year’s Nebula Award for short story, which will be announced in Chicago in June.

The Shirley Jackson Awards are given in recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. They’re voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics.

Shirley Jackson was a contributor to F&SF in the 1950s with her stories “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts” (January 1955), “The Missing Girl” (December 1957), and “The Omen” (March 1958). Jackson, who lived from 1916 to 1965, wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and is famous for her story “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of genre and literary fiction.

The 2014 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on Sunday, July 12, 2016, at Readercon 26, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Massachusetts. The complete ballot with all the nominees can be found at:



Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, originally titled The Magazine of Fantasy, was founded in 1949 by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas…or was it? Describe, in 50 words or less, the secret origins of F&SF. Alternate histories, imagined conversations, and science-fictional (or magical) twists on the truth are more than welcome. Another welcomed element: funny.


Shirley Jackson and Theodore Sturgeon leave a little basket on the doorstep of Anthony Boucher with a tear-stained note: “Please take care of our baby. Raise it as if it were your own.”

You have six chances to rewrite history before midnight EST, May 28th. Send your entries to

Please remember to include your telephone number and snail-mail address.

PRIZES: First prize will receive a subscription to F&SF good for the next sixty years along with a copy of The Diamond Jubilee. Second prize will receive advance reading copies of three forthcoming novels.  Any runners-up will receive one-year subscriptions to F&SF. Results of Competition 78 will appear in the Oct/Nov. 2009 issue.

Judges are the editors of F&SF, and their decision is final.  All entries become the property of F&SF.

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