This one was a complete surprise for me. I was far more heavily involved with paintball than with Science Fiction at the time (working on creating the first professional league for the sport, actually) and just happened to see it on the newsstand at a Barnes & Noble – but it stopped me dead in my tracks.
How could it not? Just look at that cover!
I really wasn’t expecting anything new from magazine Science Fiction at the time – Asimov had recently died (the premiere issue of ‘Age features a tribute and an homage story by Adam-Troy Castro) and the field itself was in a “bust” interlude (Del Rey proposed a “boom and bust” cycle for the field which doesn’t entirely pan out but there is a waxing and waning of magazines serving the field and Science Fiction Age came along pretty much at the beginning of the next upward tick.
The cover is, fittingly, a variation of Michael Whelan’s book illustration for Asimov’s The Robots of Dawn. The contents are stellar (as you would expect from a premiere issue of a truly professional SF magazine).
Science Fiction Age did very well during its first couple of years, given very high marks for its layout, greater than usual use of artwork (a feature that we replicated with Amazing Stories – a “cover illustration for every story”), all in a “slick” sized (letter) format. SF Ency states that it had better circulation numbers upon debut than a couple of the legacy mags already on the stands.
Science Fiction Age was helmed by Scott Edelman (another contemporary friend) who had previously published The Last Wave, a semi-prozine dedicated to the (at the time) waning “New Wave”.
The magazine lasted, uninterrupted and un-retitled (meaning that I do not have an excuse to post additional covers, lol) until 2000, after a run of some 46 issues.
Realms of Fantasy (also in the V1N1 collection) was later introduced as a companion magazine and something referenced as “Science Fiction Age Presents SCI-FI FALL TVPREVIEW” is referenced on the ISFDB site, but I can’t find anything else on that (perhaps Scott will weigh in), otherwise it would be in the collection.
The entire first issue, as well as other issues of this magazine, are viewable on the Internet Archive site. Check out the layout of this fine magazine.
(The above image offers some insight into how a single illustration can be repurposed for different publishing needs. Whelan’s original can be found here.)