What a heady year 1977 was for me, at least in terms of Science Fiction Fandom: I was on the committee for the upcoming WorldCon; I’d met and become friends with numerous BNFs and the first fan-turned author on the eve of his first professional publication (Jack Chalker, A Jungle of Stars); I’d be graduating from High School (in less than a year my college would give me a grant to publish my fanzine Contact as a semi-pro magazine) and several new magazines were hitting the stands, including one being edited right across the Delaware river in Philadelphia from my Jersey home – Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine –
I and my local cadre of fans of course knew this was coming for a while via the fan press, but it nevertheless was very exciting to see Ike right there on the newsstand. I knew Asimov. I’d spent a fair amount of time with him at various conventions and attended a few of his lectures on this and that. I always found him to be very friendly and accommodating. Yes, I am aware that he has been called into question regarding behaviors that were tolerated in earlier times and are problematic now. I was a witness to such and it shocked me at the time, both the behavior and its acceptance. That was, as they say, a different time.
The magazine however was not Isaac, despite his face appearing on the cover of the first four issues (it was a quarterly when first released); Dr. A was very popular and recognizable at the time, having been doing rounds on television, commercials and lectures, and part of the reason to produce the magazine was to take advantage of that popularity.
It also gave the editorial staff of my Fanzine and opportunity to actually visit the offices of a REAL LIVE SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE. We paid a visit to the magazine’s eidtor, George Scithers, at his Philadelphia home for an interview (a planned but unpublished issue of the fanzine was to feature interviews with all of the editors of the leading SF magazines at the time – Scithers, Bova, Hartwell, Ferman, Baen) and had a good and interesting time.
Asimov’s would eventually come to be edited by Gardner Dozois, who brought it to prominence in the field, both in awards and in circulation. Along the way it has published first stories by many of the field’s influential names, although in the beginning it was often perceived as a magazine for a younger audience (which perception caused a few controversies along the way (complaints by parent of younger readers).
This, of course, was not the first SF magazine to be named for an author: some previous examples being A. Merritt’s Fantasy Magazine, Vargo Statten’s Science Fiction Magazine, but it was the first SF magazine named for someone I actually knew and read.
The following year (1978), would see the introduction of the short-lived companion, Isaac Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, (also in the collection) which was both different in size (slick), featured a centerfold mini-poster of the cover art and published lighter, more space opera oriented fare.
In 1992 the magazine’s name would change to Asimov’s Science Fiction (once again featuring the Doctor on the cover) and it would also generate a magazine-like bi-annual anthology series – Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Anthology, which would run for four years (also in the collection).
And it is still going strong today, considered one of the top markets in the field.