In keeping with this week’s focus on Boston Area Fan History (see our post today about FANAC’s Upcoming Zoom meeting), we bring you Galileo and its “Starry Messenger” cover by artist Tom Barber (which depicts Galileo and Voyager, if you need to be bludgeoned about the head and shoulders today)
This is one of the magazines that debuted in the 70s that I “discovered” on the newsstand, and it shares a history with both the popular Boston area bookstore Avenue Victor Hugo, which was actually on Newbury Street in the Back Bay, and Galaxy magazine. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to visit both the Boston store and the New Hampshire location it was moved to before it sadly closed down. On my visit to the second location I was able to meet with Vincent McCaffrey, the owner of the store and the publisher of both Galileo and, briefly, Galaxy magazine.
Recent news has highlighted Amazon’s gutting of its magazine subscription program and the detrimental effects that could have on our present crop of publications, somewhat echoing the trials and tribulations of both Galileo and Galaxy, which were driven from the stands, at least in part by distribution – related issues.
It seems that its early and rapid growth in subscriptions led to a decision to increase print runs for newsstand distribution, with the increased print run being advanced by the printer. Meanwhile, issues related to computerizing the magazine’s analog records caused subscriptions to go missing or being delayed, which negatively affected renewals; additionally, actual newsstand sales were not as good as had initially been anticipated, all taking place right at the same time that expenses increased.
This ultimately forced the company into bankruptcy (debt was eventually paid off), taking both Galileo and Galaxy (which McCaffrey had acquired the rights to and was planning to alternate on the stands with Galaxy – and interesting mix of a semi-professional magazine and a professional level one) off the stands.
Galileo was edited by Charles C. Ryan (who would go on to edit Aboriginal), and was known for its discovery and support of new authors. It would last for a total of 15 issues, from 1976 to 1980.
Tom Barber, who’s art graced many a magazine and book cover back in those days was himself “rediscovered” not too long ago and was commissioned to do a cover for Amazing Stories (below) and you can find a gallery of some of his work here.