Fantastic Novels

Fantastic Novels
The words "FANTASTIC Novels" in red letters with black outlines on a horizontal lightning bolt of yellow above a row of amphibian humanoids standing behind a woman
Mary Gnaedinger continued to reprint work by A. Merritt in the second series of Fantastic Novels. (September 1948 issue pictured)
EditorMary Gnaedinger
CategoriesScience fiction
Year founded1940
Final issue1951
CompanyMunsey Company
Popular Publications
CountryUnited States
Great Britain
Based inNew York City

Fantastic Novels was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published by the Munsey Company of New York from 1940 to 1941, and again by Popular Publications, also of New York, from 1948 to 1951. It was a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Like that magazine, it mostly reprinted science fiction and fantasy classics from earlier decades, such as novels by A. Merritt, George Allan England, and Victor Rousseau, though it occasionally published reprints of more recent work, such as Earth's Last Citadel, by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.

The magazine lasted for 5 issues in its first incarnation, and for another 20 in the revived version from Popular Publications. Mary Gnaedinger edited both series; her interest in reprinting Merritt's work helped make him one of the better-known fantasy writers of the era. A Canadian edition from 1948 to 1951 reprinted 17 issues of the second series; two others were reprinted in Great Britain in 1950 and 1951.

Publication history

The cover of the November 1949 issue, by Virgil Finlay.

In the early 20th century, science fiction stories were frequently published in popular magazines,[1] with the Munsey Company, a major pulp magazine publisher, printing a great deal of science fiction.[1] In 1926 Amazing Stories became the first specialist pulp magazine publisher of science fiction.[2] Munsey continued to print sf in Argosy during the 1930s, and in 1939 took advantage of the new genre's growing popularity by launching Famous Fantastic Mysteries, a vehicle to reprint the most popular fantasy and sf stories from the Munsey magazines.[3]

The new title immediately became successful, and demand for reprints of old favorites was such that Munsey decided to launch an additional magazine, Fantastic Novels, in July 1940, edited, like Famous Fantastic Mysteries, by Mary Gnaedinger.[3] The two magazines were placed on bimonthly schedules, arranged to alternate with each other,[2] though the schedule slipped slightly with the fifth issue of Fantastic Novels, dated April 1941 but following the January 1941 issue.[4] Fantastic Novels was suspended after that issue and merged with Famous Fantastic Mysteries.[4] The stated reason was that Famous Fantastic Mysteries "is apparently the favorite title", but it seems likely that production difficulties caused by World War II played a part.[4] The June 1941 and August 1941 issues of Famous Fantastic Mysteries both carried the slogan "Combined with Fantastic Novels Magazine" on the cover.[5][6]

Fantastic Novels reappeared in 1948 through Popular Publications, which had acquired Famous Fantastic Mysteries from Munsey at the end of 1942.[7] Gnaedinger remained editor of Famous Fantastic Mysteries when Popular took over, and was editor of the second incarnation of Fantastic Novels.[4][7] The March 1948 issue, the first of the new series, was catalogued volume 1, number 6, as if there had been no break in publication.[4] This version lasted for a further 20 issues, ending without notice with the June 1951 issue. It was apparently a sudden decision; the final issue had announced plans to reprint Otis Adelbert Kline's Maza of the Moon.[8]

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