This also figures as the third magazine devoted to SF to be published in the UK. It had been preceded by Scoops (1934), a “boy’s adventure magazine” (that I passed on spending about 10k on the entire run a few years back…that one is very hard to find) and by Tales of Wonder (1937), another difficult to find title.
Scoops was published by Pearson’s, who some in the UK like to credit as the first magazine devoted to SF (english language/professional) because they published a Christmas Annual issue in 1919. Those Brits! Always trying to claim SF firsts…first convention (not), first magazine (not). Why, they even claim to have owned ‘merika at one point, often going so far as to say that they “let” us win that dispute over taxes because they were “busy” with other things. Riiiiight.
You can make the argument, but a Holiday Marketing Special created to sell soap around the holidays does not a science fiction magazine make – unless of course the soap is rocket-shaped. If that had been the case, we might be able to have a discussion. (And as for the convention claim: it’s a “Con” when officers are designated, someone takes notes and they call it such. At least in this biased Patriot’s opinion.)
But enough of stoking international rivalries, as it looks like Scotland may be stealing a march on both the US and UK when it comes to being a home for science fiction. (Check out the Dublin Worldcon coming in 2024.)
Actually, no, I’m not done with international rivalries. Look at these two covers and you tell me which one is for a “Science Fiction” magazine:
I mean, one’s got Saturn, square riggers and ice skaters on one of Saturn’s moons, the other looks like two rivals squaring off against each other in an old English sitting room. If you captioned them, those captions might read something like “Before we duel over the young lady’s affections (who has no agency), how about a spot of tea?” and “Man, the lower gravity on this extraterrestrial body really alters the coefficient of drag! Good thing there’s a fully breathable atmosphere!”).
I promise you, no 12 year old on the verge of discovering science fiction and with a quarter in their pocket, perusing newsstands of their day is going to buy that Pearson’s. Not a one. And with that being the case – where’s your first con now, huh? In bloody Scotland, that’s where!
While you’re in an SFnal frame of mind, why not pop on over to our store and pick up an SF100 T-shirt to help support our Centennial Celebration, coming at you in 2026!