Galaxy Science Fiction
Galaxy Science Fiction was an American
Gold published many notable stories during his tenure, including
Under Pohl Galaxy had continued success, regularly publishing fiction by writers such as
At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction genre. It was regarded as one of the leading sf magazines almost from the start, and its influence did not wane until Pohl's departure in 1969. Gold brought a "sophisticated intellectual subtlety" to magazine science fiction according to Pohl, who added that "after Galaxy it was impossible to go on being naive." SF historian
The first science fiction magazine,
|Issues of Galaxy from 1950 to 1959, showing volume/issue number. H. L. Gold|
was editor throughout the 1950s.
Gold initially suggested two titles for the magazine, If and Galaxy. Gold's art director, Washington Irving van der Poel, mocked up multiple layouts and Gold invited hundreds of writers, editors, artists, and fans to view them and vote for their favorite; the vote was strongly for Galaxy as the title.[notes 1] For the first issue, Gold obtained stories by several well-known authors, including
In the summer of 1951, disagreements within World Editions led to attempts to disrupt Galaxy's distribution. According to Gold, the circulation director and the head of the American office stockpiled many issues instead of distributing them, and made sure that the ones that did get distributed went to areas of the United States, such as the South, where there was little or no audience for the magazine.[notes 3] The head of the French office of World Editions came to the United States to find out what the problem was, and recommended that the magazine be sold to the two Americans, for $3,000—a very low price. They tried to recruit Gold, but he contacted the Italian office, which rejected the sale and eventually agreed to sell Galaxy to the printer, Robert M. Guinn. It was only after the sale was complete that the sabotaged distribution came to light; World Editions wanted to buy back the magazine, but Guinn quoted a price four times as high as he had paid. In Gold's words, "he, Guinn, knew what he was buying, whereas World Editions hadn't known what they were selling".
Guinn's new company was named Galaxy Publishing Corporation, and it took over beginning with the October 1951 issue. Gold remained as editor, but lost the assistance of staff at World Editions, relying instead on help from
By the late 1950s, the science fiction magazine boom was over, and the relatively low circulation of the magazines did not endear them to distributors, the middlemen who transported magazines from the publishers to the newsstands and other outlets. Gold changed the title from Galaxy Science Fiction to Galaxy Magazine with the September 1958 issue, commenting that the term science fiction "scares many people away from buying". Galaxy's circulation, at about 90,000, was the highest of the science fiction magazines, but Guinn decided to cut costs, and in 1959 raised the cover price and changed the magazine to a bimonthly schedule, while increasing the page count. Guinn also cut the rates paid to authors from three (and occasionally four) cents a word to one and a half cents a word. These changes saved Galaxy over $12,000 a year. The result was a fall in circulation to about 80,000 within two years, but this was sustainable because of the savings from the fiction budget.[notes 4]
|Issues of Galaxy from 1960 to 1969, showing volume/issue number. Issues are|
color-coded to show when each editor was in charge; the editorship passed from
H.L. Gold to Frederik Pohl and then to Ejler Jakobsson during the 1960s. Note
that the apparent error in volume numbering in late 1969 is in fact correct.
Pohl attempted to persuade Guinn to double the pay rate of one and a half cents a word back to the former level of three. Guinn refused, but Pohl was able to find enough material that he could purchase at a low rate to allow him to offer some authors three cents per word. The strategy was successful in improving circulation, and Guinn eventually acceded to the rate increase.
Pohl also tried hard to persuade Guinn and
In 1969, Guinn sold Galaxy to Universal Publishing and Distribution Corporation (UPD). Pohl was in
Galaxy's circulation had held relatively steady in the mid-1960s, ranging between 73,000 and 78,000, but the UPD acquisition coincided with a precipitous drop—from 75,300 for the year ended October 1968, circulation fell to 51,479 just one year later. Difficulties with distribution also cut into income, and Arnold Abramson, UPD's owner, decided to cut costs and maximize profits. Galaxy went bimonthly in August 1970, ending a two-year spell of monthly scheduling (though a couple of months had been missed). The page count, which had been cut from 196 to 160 when UPD bought it, was increased again, and the price was raised from 60 cents to 75 cents. A British edition began in May 1972, published by Tandem Books, which was owned by UPD. The net effect of all these changes was a substantial increase in profitability. Circulation in 1972 also rose by about 6,000 issues, though it is possible that this was solely due to the new British edition.
|Issues of Galaxy from 1970 to the last issue, including the revival in 1994, showing|
volume/issue number; the apparent errors at July and September 1973, and the odd
numbering of volume 35, are in fact correctly shown. The editors, in sequence, were
Ejler Jakobsson, James Baen, J.J. Pierce, Hank Stine, Floyd Kemske, and E.J. Gold.
UPD began to have financial difficulties in the early 1970s, and when Judy-Lynn del Rey (formerly Judy-Lynn Benjamin) left in May 1973 to work at Ballantine Books, Jakobsson's workload increased greatly. He resigned less than a year later, citing overwork and other issues, and was replaced by
Baen was replaced by John J. Pierce, but the situation only worsened. Pierce resigned within a year: the company was in increasing debt, and his office assistant recalls that the office appeared inefficiently run, though he commented that Pierce "clearly loved what he did and knew what he was talking about". Pierce's replacement was
The last few years of Galaxy's life were marked by stories of unpaid contributors.
In 1994, the magazine reappeared briefly as a semi-professional publication under the editorship of E. J. Gold, son of H. L. Gold. E. J. Gold produced eight issues on a regular bimonthly schedule, starting with the January–February 1994 issue, and ending with March–April 1995.