Over on File770 today, they had two interesting pieces, among many others: one presented some interesting information about Amazing Stories (yet to be investigated…we’re talking the legacy here, not this incarnation), and a piece about collecting complete runs of magazines (meaning obtaining every issue published under that title). Both appeared in the same posting, #10 (and I just noticed now that I read the poll question incorrectly: it asks which magazine would you want a “restored” complete run of.
Well, obviously a question not asked by a collector, because what collectors want is a complete run of Mint Condition ORIGINAL issues (not that such a thing could ever be assembled, especially not for older magazines with long runs…but anyways). (And I’m not entirely sure what the poster means by “restored”: does he mean original copies that have gotten the museum restoration treatment, or facsimile editions. Again, but anyways….)
This reminded me of the portrait of an SF magazine collector offered up in Barry Malzberg’s novel Dwellers of the Deep (as by K. M. O’Donnell) that details “Collector” (not Fan) Izzinius Fox’s difficulties in attempting to obtain a complete run of Tremendous Stories Science Fiction magazine (a stand-in for Astounding). Fox is beset by all manner of obstacles, including an avaricious pulp huckster, a neighbor who is trying to get him to join Fandom (and possibly become his girl friend), a lack of employment (he quit his job to pursue collecting), not to mention aliens who take over his mind at inconvenient moments in order to pressure him into obtaining a copy of Tremendous, because that issue contains an article by an analog of Hubbard. Fox suspects that they want the article in order to conquer humanity.
Malzberg also wrote another short novel about Fandom, Gather in the Hall of the Planets, in which aliens are also trying to take over, this time by coercing a burnt out, award-winning science fiction author.
Both novels offer comedic, satiric takes on Fandom, conventions and Fans that are often disturbingly accurate (for 1950s Fandom) and that after Malzberg has claimed that he wrote it all without any direct experience of that community at the time.
There IS a difference, at least for a collector, between obtaining a desired issue and obtaining an issue that “completes a run”, meaning every issue produced under that magazine’s title. It’s a “completeness” thing. You can only get it once for an individual title. Achieving this does NOT cure the collecting itch. But it is a milestone in a collector’s – career? – and does seem to enhance the value of the associated individual issues.
If you would really like to understand at least some aspects of those with the collector’s bug, you wouldn’t go far wrong by reading Dwellers of the Deep.
(Copies are readily available on the web, for reasonable prices.)