The News Stand: 40 Years Ago This Month – October 1983

Note that this is what may be the first News Stand post that gets a NSFW warning.  That’s because of the Heavy Metal covers.  There were some shops selling that magazine that kept them in brown paper wrappers.  So word to the wise, if heroic cover art featuring bits of nakedidity are not appropriate for you, you’ll want to brown paper wrap this post.

October of 1983 was a pivotal year for me. Forty years ago at about this exact time(as you are reading this) I was probably in an Army/Navy store buying fatigues for my first ever sojourn into the wild world of Paintball.

It was supposed to be some half-assed team building exercise for members of my group at AT&T. I’d wanted to try this sport for a bit (after all, there are home movies of me directing troops during an assault in my backyard when I was not quite 5) and found some willing, or so I thought, co-workers. We arranged to meet in our office parking lot and then drive together to the “Friendly War Game” in the Poconos.

No one else showed up at what would be tomorrow morning (at an hour earlier than we normally showed up for work!). I was nervous, as I had no real info about the game and was voluntarily heading out into the wilds of Pennsylvania to get shot at!. But I toughed it out and went by myself. I had a blast, went back the next day and was hooked. (Ultimately I would form a team, travel all over to play, and get voted one of the Top 100 Players of All Time and Paintball Person of the Year for 1992.)

None of that is SF related, of course, except that the sport took me on a 30 year GAFIAtion from Fandom…not my interest in the genre (I still managed to hit a few conventions and maintained some magazine subscriptions) but my budget for the genre. See, paintball – especially back in those days, and especially in the competitive arena, was “Polo” and “America’s Cup” level expensive. My dollars didn’t stretch to cover both activities. Not to mention – guess when you hold practice and competitions? Weekends. Yep.

But I was in pursuit of glory on the field. (I’d been pretty active sports-wise growing up, hockey, baseball, soccer, bowling, karate) Anyone else discovering a sport that they have natural talent for will know what it was like for me to discover that I was actually pretty darned good at hunting down people in the woods and shooting them. (Of course, that’s what any paintball player will tell you, but I’ve got the credentials to prove it!)

1983 was the last year that I was keeping my finger on the pulse of the SF world until I came up for air in 2006 (which was when I launched the Crotchety Old Fan Blog, marking my GBIIA Getting Back Into It All – not an official entry in the Fan Speak glossary).

So here we are, forty years ago this month, October of 1983.

I think perhaps the most interesting thing going on at this time was the on-going cross-over of magazines and paperbacks, or anthologies as magazines….

I don’t know what was going on with distribution, printing costs, etc., but it seems that a lot of publishers were experimenting with magazines formatted as paperbacks (Baen’s Destinies, for example) and anthologies distributed like (alongside?) magazines. Examples right here – The Best of Omni, Greatest from the Twilight Zone, Analog anthologies…).

We actually do a bit of that with some of our Amazing Selects titles. They feature a main novelette/novella, but also include non-fiction pieces, illustrations and material similar to what you’d find in a magazine. A little extra bang for your buck.

(Note:  I’m also guessing at the duration of those “best of” titles.  They might all have persisted on the stands, not being replaced.)

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