Asimov's Science Fiction began life as the digest-sized Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (or IASFM for short) in 1977. Joel Davis of Davis Publications approached Asimov to lend his name to a new science fiction magazine, after the fashion of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine or Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Asimov refused to act as editor, but served instead as editorial director, writing editorials and replying to reader mail until his death in 1992. At Asimov's request George Scithers, the first editor, negotiated an acquisitions contract with the Science Fiction Writers of America providing considerably better terms for writers than had been the periodical standard up to that time.
Initially a quarterly, its first issue was dated December 1976. It changed to a bimonthly in 1978 and began publishing monthly in 1979. In the mid-1980s it was published once every four weeks, with an extra "mid-December" issue (for a total of 13 issues per year). Double issues were added in the early 1990s (while staying at 13 total issues per year) before the schedule was scaled back to 10 issues per year by 2004. From January 2017, the schedule was changed to six "double-sized" issues per year.
The magazine was sold to Bantam Doubleday Dell in January 1992, a few months before Asimov's death, and the title changed to Asimov's Science Fiction. In 1996, Dell Magazines was acquired from BDD by
Crosstown Publications, and as of 2012 is part of Penny Publications which is under the same ownership as Crosstown Publications has been, with headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut and uses a combined Customer Service labelled Penny Press/Dell Magazines. In 1998, the magazine's size changed; it is now taller and slightly wider than the standard digest format (matching other magazines published by its newest corporate parent).
Asimov's Science Fiction celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2007, with an anthology edited by the magazine's current editor, Sheila Williams. Drawing on stories published from 1977 to the present day, it was published by Tachyon Publications.
Martin Gardner wrote a regular column of "puzzle tales" for the magazine from 1977 to 1986. He produced 111 columns in all, many later published in book form.
Scithers left the magazine after five years, winning two Hugo awards as best editor, and was succeeded by Shawna McCarthy. McCarthy held the position for three years, winning one Hugo award. Gardner Dozois edited the magazine from 1985 to 2004, winning 15 Hugo awards, before stepping down and becoming its contributing editor. Sheila Williams is the current editor and won the Hugo Awards for Best Short Form Editor in 2011.