Today’s Favorite Magazine From The V1N1 Collection: The Magazine of Fantasy

This is one that I definitely acquired in the Huckster’s Room of a convention…probably a Philcon, probably the 1974 or 1975 Philcon.   (I say “Huckster” because that is what it was affectionately called back then.)

Chip Delaney was GoH.  I don’t  remember meeting him at that con, nor do I remember meeting anyone listed in the program book.  Back in those early days I rarely attended panels, spending most of my time equally between the film room and the Huckster’s tables.  (Here’s the program book for Philcon 1975, courtesy of  Many of the illustrations resonate, which suggests to me that this is the convention in question.  I don’t recognize most names, though, notably, Michael Swanwick was the Press Liaison.  It’s got an ad for the Hourglass bookshop in there – the very same Philly SF store I regularly visited.)

For the longest time – extending from my first Fannish awakenings until the internet began to provide excellent tools for research  – (you do know that the first BB was the SFLovers BB and that Fans were among the first adopters of early computers to serve Fannish interests, like compiling databases of magazines, right?) I believed that the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction was the V1N1 for that magazine and was quite proud to have such an important title’s first issue in my collection.

This was the issue I acquired at that Philcon –

Yes, it has suffered a bit in its travels, unfortunately.  The covers in particular are very dry and brittle, as they are for a lot of early F&SF digests.  Probably owing to the paper used.  Anyway.

Yes, you say.  That cover is familiar.  Art Director George Salter created several of these abstract looks for a handful of early issues of the magazine.  But the title for this article says “The Magazine of Fantasy”, not “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”.  What’s up?

Well, it turns out that I was both right and wrong about the above featured issue being a V1N1.  You see, between Winter – Spring 1950 and Fall 1949, the magazine underwent a title change.  They added “and Science Fiction”.

So the image above is (according to my established criteria for the collection) in fact a V1N1 – even though inside it states Volume 1, Issue 2 – because it is the first issue featuring the new title.

I have since acquired the actual very first issue of the magazine that would become The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy –

That  cover is identified as a “Kodachrome” by Bill Stone.  He did a similar cover for Fantasy Fiction magazine (also in the collection).

Prior to the internet, all we had were some small press pamphlets and bibliographies, issue checklists, etc.  Being a new fan, I was not even aware of such things, let alone in a position to even figure out how to obtain them.  (I refer to things like the Day checklist of SF magazines, which I have since acquired.)

You can imagine my confusion when I discovered that the numbering for the F&SF title said “Volume 1, Number 2”, while other, more experienced collectors were informing me that yes, this was the first issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  (Maybe you can’t if you hail from a time post internet.  That’s ok.  Just assume that collecting back then took place in the snow, while you were barefoot and had to walk multiple miles, uphill, BOTH ways, in order to obtain any information about anything at all, let alone a truly obscure subject such as the history of SF magazines.)

The magazine itself was initially edited by the famous Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White – sure does make pseudonyms easier when you’ve got multiple middle names)  and J. Francis McComas.  You may recognize the former as both an author and the editor of the widely distributed (SFBC) two volume anthology Treasury of Great Science Fiction (1959).  The latter, of course, is half of the Healy & McComas team that brought us Adventures in Time and Space: An Anthology of Modern Science-Fiction Stories (1946), one of the best of the early SF anthologies.

Both Boucher and McComas attempted to support higher literary standards with the fiction they published – a legacy that continues to this day with the modern incarnation of the magazine.

Now in its 75th year, F&SF is the second longest continuously published SF magazine (Astounding began in January of 1930, but had interruptions in its publishing schedule starting in September of 1932 and lasting until the October 1933 issue, after which it maintained a regular schedule.  So Astounding (now Analog) has an uninterrupted publishing schedule of 90 years (the anniversary of which is coming up later this year).  (F&SF – 763 issues to date;  Astounding/Analog – 1,056.)

F&SF has also produced a number of anthologies over the years, drawing from the pages of the magazine and beginning with The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1952 and eventually leading to 24 volumes, from The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction 2nd Series to The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction 24th Series, edited by various of the magazine’s editors.

The magazine has had several foreign editions – a first and second British series and an Australian series.  It was also joined, for a time, with Venture Science Fiction, which generally featured more standard, action and adventure SF fare.  Venture was also published in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and was eventually incorporated into F&SF.  (Venture had two series, both of which issues are in the collection, though the UK, NZ and AUS. editions are not…yet.)

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