The Importance of Actually, You Know, Doing Stuff

When I first heard the announcement that Steve Davidson had secured the trademark for the name “Amazing Stories,” I had a variety of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was delighted to know that Amazing Stories would once again be returning from the dead. But on the other hand…well, let me explain.

Amazing Stories was one of the science fiction magazines I enjoyed reading as a teenager. I remember subscribing to the digest-sized version that was published by TSR, the game company that also published Dungeons & Dragons, and that was edited by George Scithers. Even now, as I think back on those issues, I can remember sitting in the large cushioned chair in my childhood living room as I held a copy of Amazing Stories in my hands. I breathe in and recall the smell of the paper, which was always of a slightly thicker stock than the paper used for Analog and Asimov’s, closer to the paper used for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Somewhere, I have those issues of Amazing Stories in storage, and I know that if I were to find one and pick it up, I’d be transported back in time.

Like many of us, when I was 12 years old or so I got it into my head that I could write science fiction stories, and I submitted them to all the magazines I read. The editors of the magazines usually rejected my work with form letters, and it was no wonder, given how atrocious my feeble attempts were. (Most of the stories I wrote in my teens petered out after only a few hundred words, as they were more ideas for stories than actual stories themselves.) But Amazing Stories always sent back a personal note, because Scithers felt that every submission deserved a personal note. Having been a slush reader much later on, I can’t imagine where he found the time to do that, but this young writer at least appreciated the personal note, even if the note was one sentence long basically telling me that all I had was an idea, and a lame one at that.

I also remember fondly the Amazing Stories TV show, less for the tales they told and more for the attention it helped bring to the magazine and to the world of science fiction short stories in general.

Anyway, let’s cut to 2004. Amazing Stories had been relaunched by Paizo Publishing, and I had hopes for the magazine. But after only a year, the magazine stopped being published, and in March 2006 they announced that were canceling the magazine. This incarnation had barely had a chance to get started. The last issue released, the March 2005 issue (#609), had only been released as a PDF, and I as a subscriber had made sure to get it. It still sits on my hard drive, and for five years I thought it would be the final issue ever of Amazing Stories.

And now here’s where we get to the importance of actually, you know, doing stuff.

When Paizo announced the end of Amazing Stories, I briefly pondered what it might take to purchase the magazine from them. I wondered how much it would cost to buy, if not the inventory or any copyrights, the trademark and rights associated with it. After a year or two passed and Amazing still seemed dead, I briefly wondered if there was a process by which I might apply for the trademark, as it was apparently sitting unused on a shelf somewhere. But, as happens with all of us, life got in the way, and the thought that little old me might actually manage to own something as iconic as Amazing Stories seemed ludicrous. So I ignored my impulses and left them on their own shelf.

But Steve Davidson didn’t. He was dedicated to the idea that Amazing Stories must live again, and patient enough to research and go through the process of securing the trademark. And to the science fiction world’s delight, Steve resurrected Amazing Stories. And although it is bittersweet for me, as I could have been in Steve’s shoes had I acted quickly, I note that the word “bittersweet” still includes the word “sweet.” Thanks to Steve, Amazing Stories not only lives again, but I will get to be a small part of it. And for that, I am very grateful.

But if only I had gotten off my chair and acted first… (!)

Hey, Steve? How much do you want for the trademark? 🙂

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