Amazing Stories | publishing history

Publishing history

1920s

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1926 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9
1927 1/10 1/11 1/12 2/1 2/2 2/3 2/4 2/5 2/6 2/7 2/8 2/9
1928 2/10 2/11 2/12 3/1 3/2 3/3 3/4 3/5 3/6 3/7 3/8 3/9
1929 3/10 3/11 3/12 4/1 4/2 4/3 4/4 4/5 4/6 4/7 4/8 4/9
1930 4/10 4/11 4/12 5/1 5/2 5/3 5/4 5/5 5/6 5/7 5/8 5/9
1931 5/10 5/11 5/12 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4 6/5 6/6 6/7 6/8 6/9
1932 6/10 6/11 6/12 7/1 7/2 7/3 7/4 7/5 7/6 7/7 7/8 7/9
1933 7/10 7/11 7/12 8/1 8/2 8/3 8/4 8/5 8/6 8/7 8/8
1934 8/9 8/10 8/11 8/12 9/1 9/2 9/3 9/4 9/5 9/6 9/7 9/8
1935 9/9 9/10 9/11 10/1 10/2 10/3 10/4 10/5 10/6 10/7
1936 10/8 10/9 10/10 10/11 10/12 10/13
1937 11/1 11/2 11/3 11/4 11/5 11/6
1938 12/1 12/2 12/3 12/4 12/5 12/6 12/7
1939 13/1 13/2 13/3 13/4 13/5 13/6 13/7 13/8 13/9 13/10 13/11 13/12
Issues of Amazing to 1939, identifying volume and issue numbers, and indicating
editors: Gernsback (yellow), Lynch (red), Sloane (blue), and Palmer (purple)

Initially the magazine focused on reprints; the first original story was "The Man From the Atom (Sequel)" by G. Peyton Wertenbaker in the May 1926 issue.[9] In the August issue, new stories (still a minority) were noted with an asterisk in the table of contents.[10] The editorial work was largely done by Sloane, but Gernsback retained final say over the fiction content. Two consultants, Conrad A. Brandt and Wilbur C. Whitehead, were hired to help find fiction to reprint. Frank R. Paul, who had worked with Gernsback as early as 1914, became the cover artist; Paul had produced many illustrations for the fiction in The Electrical Experimenter. Amazing was issued in the large bedsheet format, 8.5 × 11.75 in (216 × 298 mm), the same size as the technical magazines.[7] It was an immediate success and by the following March reached a circulation of 150,000.[11] Gernsback saw there was an enthusiastic readership for "scientifiction" (the term "science fiction" had not yet been coined), and in 1927 started a Discussions section[12] and issued Amazing Stories Annual. The annual sold out, and in January 1928, Gernsback launched a quarterly magazine, Amazing Stories Quarterly, as a regular companion to Amazing. It continued on a fairly regular schedule for 22 issues.[13][14] Gernsback was slow to pay his authors and creditors; the extent of his investments limited his liquidity. On 20 February 1929 his printer and paper supplier opened bankruptcy proceedings against him.[15][16] It has been suggested that Bernarr Macfadden, another magazine publisher, maneuvered to force the bankruptcy because Gernsback would not sell his titles to Macfadden, but this is unproven.[17][18] Experimenter Publishing did not file any defence and was declared bankrupt by default on 6 March 1929; Amazing survived with its existing staff, but Hugo and his brother, Sidney, were forced out as directors. Arthur H. Lynch took over as editor-in-chief, though Sloane continued to have effective control of the magazine's contents. The receivers, Irving Trust, sold the magazine to Bergan A. Mackinnon on 3 April 1929.[16][19][20]

1930s

In August 1931, Amazing was acquired by Teck Publications, a subsidiary of Bernarr Macfadden's Macfadden Publications.[21][22] Macfadden's deep pockets helped insulate Amazing from the financial strain caused by the Great Depression.[23] The schedule of Amazing Stories Quarterly began to slip, but Amazing did not miss an issue in the early 1930s.[14] However, it became unprofitable to publish over the next few years. Circulation dropped to little more than 25,000 in 1934, and in October 1935 it switched to a bimonthly schedule.[24][25]

By 1938, with Amazing's circulation down to only 15,000, Teck Publications was having financial problems.[24] In January 1938 Ziff-Davis took over the magazine and shortly thereafter moved production to Chicago;[26] the April issue was assembled by Sloane but published by Ziff-Davis. Bernard Davis, who ran Ziff-Davis's editorial department, attempted to hire Roger Sherman Hoar as editor; Hoar turned down the job but suggested Raymond A. Palmer, an active local science fiction fan. Palmer was hired that February, taking over editorial duties with the June 1938 issue.[24] Ziff-Davis launched Fantastic Adventures, a fantasy companion to Amazing, in May 1939, also under Palmer's editorship.[27] Palmer quickly managed to improve Amazing's circulation, and in November 1938, the magazine went monthly again, though this did not last throughout Palmer's tenure: between 1944 and 1946 the magazine was bimonthly and then quarterly for a while before returning to a longer-lasting monthly schedule.[14][28]

1940s

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1940 14/1 14/2 14/3 14/4 14/5 14/6 14/7 14/8 14/9 14/10 14/11 14/12
1941 15/1 15/2 15/3 15/4 15/5 15/6 15/7 15/8 15/9 15/10 15/11 15/12
1942 16/1 16/2 16/3 16/4 16/5 16/6 16/7 16/8 16/9 16/10 16/11 16/12
1943 17/1 17/2 17/3 17/4 17/5 17/6 17/7 17/8 17/9 17/10
1944 18/1 18/2 18/3 18/4 18/5
1945 19/1 19/2 19/3 19/4
1946 20/1 20/2 20/3 20/4 20/5 20/6 20/7 20/8 20/9
1947 21/1 21/2 21/3 21/4 21/5 21/6 21/7 21/8 21/9 21/10 21/11 21/12
1948 22/1 22/2 22/3 22/4 22/5 22/6 22/7 22/8 22/9 22/10 22/11 22/12
1949 23/1 23/2 23/3 23/4 23/5 23/6 23/7 23/8 23/9 23/10 23/11 23/12
Issues of Amazing in the 1940s, with the volume/issue number identified. Ray Palmer
was editor throughout the 1940s so only a single color is used.

In September 1943 Richard Shaver, an Amazing reader, began to correspond with Palmer, who soon asked him to write stories for the magazine. Shaver responded with a story called "I Remember Lemuria", published in the March 1945 issue, which was presented by Palmer as a mixture of truth and fiction. The story, about prehistoric civilizations, dramatically boosted Amazing's circulation, and Palmer ran a new Shaver story in every issue, culminating in a special issue in June 1947 devoted entirely to the Shaver Mystery, as it was called.[notes 1][30] Amazing soon drew ridicule for these stories. A derisive article by William S. Baring-Gould in the September 1946 issue of Harper's prompted William Ziff to tell Palmer to limit the amount of Shaver-related material in the magazine; Palmer complied, but his interest (and possibly belief) in this sort of material was now significant, and he soon began planning to leave Ziff-Davis. In 1947 he formed Clark Publications, launching Fate the following year, and in 1949 he resigned from Ziff-Davis to edit that and other magazines.[31]

Howard Browne, who had been on a leave of absence from Ziff-Davis to write fiction, took over as editor and began by throwing away 300,000 words of inventory that Palmer had acquired before he left.[31] Browne had ambitions of moving Amazing upmarket, and his argument was strengthened by Street & Smith, one of the longest established and most respected publishers, who shut down all of their pulp magazines in the summer of 1949. The pulps were dying, largely as a result of the success of pocketbooks, and Street & Smith decided to concentrate on their slick magazines. Some pulps struggled on for a few more years, but Browne was able to persuade Ziff and Davis that the future was in the slicks, and they raised his fiction budget from one cent to a ceiling of five cents per word. Browne managed to get promises of new stories from many well-known authors, including Isaac Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon. He produced a dummy issue[32] in April 1950, and planned to launch the new incarnation of Amazing in April 1951, the 25th anniversary of the first issue. However, the economic impact of the Korean War, which broke out in June 1950, led to budget cuts. The plans were cancelled, and Ziff-Davis never revived the idea.[33]

1950s

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1950 24/1 24/2 24/3 24/4 24/5 24/6 24/7 24/8 24/9 24/10 24/11 24/12
1951 25/1 25/2 25/3 25/4 25/5 25/6 25/7 25/8 25/9 25/10 25/11 25/12
1952 26/1 26/2 26/3 26/4 26/5 26/6 26/7 26/8 26/9 26/10 26/11 26/12
1953 27/1 27/2 27/3 27/4 27/5 27/6 27/7 27/8
1954 27/8 28/1 28/2 28/3 28/4 28/5
1955 29/1 29/2 29/3 29/4 29/5 29/6 29/7
1956 30/1 30/2 30/3 30/4 30/5 30/6 30/7 30/8 30/9 30/10 30/11 30/12
1957 31/1 31/2 31/3 31/4 31/5 31/6 31/7 31/8 31/9 31/10 31/11 31/12
1958 32/1 32/2 32/3 32/4 32/5 32/6 32/7 32/8 32/9 32/10 32/11 32/12
1959 33/1 33/2 33/3 33/4 33/5 33/6 33/7 33/8 33/9 33/10 33/11 33/12
Issues of Amazing in the 1950s, identifying volume and issue numbers, and
indicating editors: Browne (green), Fairman (dark yellow), and Goldsmith (orange)

Browne's interest in Amazing declined when the project to turn it into a slick magazine was derailed. Although he stayed involved with Fantastic Adventures, another Ziff-Davis magazine, he left the editing work on Amazing to William Hamling and Lila Shaffer. In December 1950, when Ziff-Davis moved their offices from Chicago to New York, Hamling stayed behind in Chicago, and Browne revived his involvement with the magazine.[34]

In 1952, Browne convinced Ziff-Davis to try a high-quality digest fantasy magazine. Fantastic, which appeared in the summer of that year, focused on fantasy rather than science fiction and was so successful that it persuaded Ziff-Davis to switch Amazing from pulp format to digest in early 1953 (while also switching to a bimonthly schedule). Circulation fell, however, and subsequent budget cuts limited the story quality in both Amazing and Fantastic. Fantastic began to print science fiction as well as fantasy. Circulation increased as a result, but Browne, who was not a science fiction aficionado, once again lost interest in the magazines.[35]

Paul W. Fairman replaced Browne as editor in September 1956.[36][37] Early in Fairman's tenure, Bernard Davis decided to try issuing a companion series of novels, titled Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novels. Readers' letters in Amazing had indicated a desire for novels, which Amazing did not have room to run. The novel series did not last; only one, Henry Slesar's 20 Million Miles to Earth, appeared. However, in response to readers' interest in longer fiction, Ziff-Davis expanded Amazing by 16 pages, starting with the March 1958 issue, and the magazine began to run complete novels.[36]

Fairman left to edit Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine at the end of 1958, and his place was taken by Cele Goldsmith. Goldsmith had been hired in 1955 as a secretary and became assistant editor to help cope with the additional work created when Ziff-Davis launched two short-lived magazines, Dream World and Pen Pals, in 1956. Ziff-Davis were not confident of Goldsmith's abilities as an editor, so when Fairman left, a consultant, Norman Lobsenz, was hired to work with her. She performed well, however, and Lobsenz's involvement soon became minimal.[38]

1960s

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1960 34/1 34/2 34/3 34/4 34/5 34/6 34/7 34/8 34/9 34/10 34/11 34/12
1961 35/1 35/2 35/3 35/4 35/5 35/6 35/7 35/8 35/9 35/10 35/11 35/12
1962 36/1 36/2 36/3 36/4 36/5 36/6 36/7 36/8 36/9 36/10 36/11 36/12
1963 37/1 37/2 37/3 37/4 37/5 37/6 37/7 37/8 37/9 37/10 37/11 37/12
1964 38/1 38/2 38/3 38/4 38/5 38/6 38/7 38/8 38/9 38/10 38/11 38/12
1965 39/1 39/2 39/3 39/4 39/5 39/6 40/1 40/2 40/3
1966 40/4 40/5 40/6 40/7 40/8 40/9
1967 40/10 41/1 41/2 41/3 41/4 41/5
1968 41/6 42/1 42/2 42/3 42/4
1969 42/5 42/6 43/1 43/2 43/3 43/4
Issues of Amazing in the 1960s, identifying volume and issue numbers, and indicating
editors: Goldsmith (Lalli) (orange), Wrzos (purple), Harrison (green), Malzberg
(yellow), and White (blue)

Goldsmith is well regarded by science fiction historians for her innovation, and the impact she had on the early careers of writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Zelazny,[38] but circulation lagged during her tenure. By 1964 Fantastic's circulation was down to 27,000, with Amazing doing little better. The following March both Amazing and Fantastic were sold to Ultimate Publishing Company, run by Sol Cohen and Arthur Bernhard.[39][40] Goldsmith was given the choice of going with the magazines or staying with Ziff-Davis; she stayed, and Cohen hired Joseph Wrzos to edit the magazines, starting with the August and September 1965 issues of Amazing and Fantastic, respectively. Wrzos used the name "Joseph Ross" on the mastheads to avoid mis-spellings.[40] Both magazines immediately moved to a bi-monthly schedule.[41][42]

Cohen had acquired reprint rights to the magazines' back issues, although Wrzos did get Cohen to agree to print one new story every issue. Cohen was also producing reprint magazines such as Great Science Fiction and Science Fiction Classics, but no payment was made to authors for any of these reprints. This brought Cohen into conflict with the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), a professional writers' organization formed in 1965. Soon SFWA called for a boycott of Ultimate's magazines until Cohen agreed to make payments. Cohen agreed to pay a flat fee for all stories, and then in August 1967 this was changed to a graduated rate, depending on the length of the story.[43] Harry Harrison had acted as an intermediary in Cohen's negotiations with SFWA, and when Wrzos left in 1967, Cohen asked Harrison to take over. SF Impulse, which Harrison had been editing, had folded in February 1967, so Harrison was available. He secured Cohen's agreement that the policy of printing almost nothing but reprinted stories would be phased out by the end of the year, and took over as editor with the September 1967 issue.[43]

By February 1968 Harrison decided to leave, as Cohen was showing no signs of abandoning the reprints. He resigned, and suggested Barry Malzberg to Cohen as a possible successor. Cohen knew Malzberg from his work at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, and thought that he might be more amenable than Harrison to continuing the reprint policy. Malzberg took over in April 1968, but immediately came into conflict with Cohen over the reprints, and then threatened to resign in October 1968 over a disagreement about artwork Malzberg had commissioned for a cover. Cohen contacted Robert Silverberg, then the president of SFWA, and told him (falsely) that Malzberg had actually resigned. Silverberg recommended Ted White as a replacement. Cohen secured White's agreement and then fired Malzberg; White assumed control with the May 1969 issue.[43]

1970s

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1970 43/5 43/6 44/1 44/2 44/3 44/4
1971 44/5 44/6 45/1 45/2 45/3 45/4
1972 45/5 45/6 46/1 46/2 46/3 46/4
1973 46/5 46/6 47/1 47/2 47/3 47/4
1974 47/5 47/6 48/1 48/2 48/3 48/4
1975 48/5 48/6 49/1 49/2 49/3
1976 49/4 49/5 50/1 50/2 50/3
1977 50/4 50/5 51/1
1978 51/2 51/3 51/4 52/1
1979 52/2 52/3 52/4 27/5
Issues of Amazing in the 1970s, identifying volume and issue numbers, and
indicating editors: White (blue) and Mavor (pink). The apparently erroneous
volume numbering for the November 1979 issue is in fact shown correctly.

When White took over as editor, Amazing's circulation was about 38,500, only about 4% of which were subscribers (as opposed to newsstand sales). This was a very low ebb for subscriptions; Analog, by comparison, sold about 35% of its circulation through subscriptions. Cohen's wife mailed out the subscription copies from home, and Cohen had never tried to increase the subscriber base as this would have increased the burden on his wife.[44] White worked hard to increase the circulation despite Cohen's lack of support, but met with limited success. One of his first changes was to reduce the typeface to increase the amount of fiction in the magazine. To pay for this he increased the price of both Fantastic and Amazing to 60 cents, but this had a strong negative effect on circulation, which fell about 10% from 1969 to 1970.[45][46]

In 1972, White changed the title to Amazing Science Fiction, distancing the magazine slightly from some of the pulp connotations of "Amazing Stories".[45] White worked at a low wage, and his friends often read manuscripts for free, but despite his efforts the circulation continued to fall. From near 40,000 when White joined the magazine, the circulation fell to about 23,000 in October 1975. White was unwilling to continue with the very limited financial backing that Cohen provided, and he resigned in 1975. Cohen was able to convince White to remain; White promised to stay for one more year, but in the event remained as editor until late 1978.[47]

Amazing raised its price from 75 cents to $1.00 with the November 1975 issue. The schedule switched to quarterly beginning with the March 1976 issue; as a result, the 50th anniversary issue had a cover date of June 1976. In 1977, Cohen announced that Amazing and Fantastic had lost $15,000, though Amazing's circulation (at nearly 26,000) was as good as it had been for several years. Cohen looked for a new publisher to buy the magazines, but in September of the following year sold his half-share in the company to his partner, Arthur Bernhard.[46][48] White had occasionally suggested to Cohen that Amazing would benefit from a redesign and investment; he made the same suggestions to Bernhard in early October. According to White, Bernhard not only said no, but told him he would not receive a salary until the next issue was turned in. In late 1978 White resigned, and returned all manuscripts in his possession to their authors, even if copy-edited and ready for publication. White claimed Bernhard had told him to do this, though Bernhard denied it.[49]

1980s to 2000s

Spring Summer Fall Winter
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1980 27/6 27/7 27/8 27/9
1981 27/10 27/11 27/12 28/1 28/2 28/3
1982 28/4 28/5 28/6 28/7 28/8
1983 28/9 56/5 57/1 57/2 57/3 57/4
1984 57/5 57/6 58/1 58/2 58/3 58/4
1985 58/5 58/6 59/1 59/2 59/3 60/1
1986 60/2 60/3 61/1 61/2 61/3 61/4
1987 61/5 61/6 62/1 62/2 62/3 62/4
1988 62/5 62/6 63/1 63/2 63/3 63/4
1989 63/5 63/6 64/1 64/2 64/3 64/4
1990 64/5 64/6 65/1 65/2 65/3 65/4
1991 65/5 65/6 66/1 66/2 66/3 66/4 66/5 66/6 66/7 66/8
1992 66/9 66/10 66/11 67/1 67/2 67/3 67/4 67/5 67/6 67/7 67/8 67/9
1993 67/10 67/11 67/12 68/1 68/2 68/3 68/4 68/5 68/6 68/7 68/8
1994 68/9 69/1 69/2
1995 69/3
1998 70/1 70/2
1999 70/3 71/1 71/2 71/3
2000 71/4 71/5 72/1 72/2
2004 73/1 73/2 73/3 73/4
2005 74/1 74/2 74/3
2012 0/1 0/2
2013
2014 75/1
2018 76/1 76/2
2019 76/3
Issues of Amazing from the 1980s onwards, identifying volume and issue numbers,
and indicating editors: Mavor (pink), Scithers (green), Price (orange), Mohan (purple),
Gross (olive), Berkwits (yellow), Davidson (lt blue). The odd volume numbering in 1983 is correctly
shown. Issue 71/5 was labelled "Special Edition" and was not dated with a month or
season. The volume numbering in 2012 is correctly shown.

Elinor Mavor took over as editor in early 1979. She had worked for Bernhard as an illustrator and in the production department of several of his magazines, though not for Amazing. She had also been an editor at Bill of Fare, a restaurant trade magazine. Mavor had read a good deal of science fiction but knew nothing about the world of science fiction magazines when she took over. She was not confident that a woman would be accepted as the editor of a science fiction magazine, so she initially used the pseudonym "Omar Gohagen" for both Amazing and Fantastic, dropping it late in 1980. Circulation continued to fall, and Bernhard refused to consider Mavor's request to undertake a subscription drive, which might have helped. Instead, in late 1980, Bernhard decided to merge the two magazines. Fantastic's last independent issue was October 1980; thereafter the combined magazine returned to a bimonthly schedule. At the same time the title was changed to Amazing Science Fiction Stories. Bernhard cut Mavor's salary after the merger, as she was editing only one magazine. Despite this, she stayed with Amazing, but was unable to prevent circulation from dropping again, down to only 11,000 newsstand sales in 1982.[50]

Shortly after the merger, Bernhard decided to retire, and approached Edward Ferman, the editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Joel Davis, at Davis Publications, among others, about a possible sale of Amazing. Jonathan Post, of Emerald City Publishing, believed he had concluded a deal with Bernhard, and began to advertise for submissions, but the negotiations failed. Bernhard also approached George H. Scithers, who declined, but put Bernhard in touch with Gary Gygax of TSR. On 27 May 1982 TSR, Inc. acquired the trademarks and copyrights of Amazing Stories.[51] Scithers was taken on by TSR as editor beginning with the November 1982 issue.[50] He was replaced by Patrick Lucien Price in September 1986, and then by Kim Mohan in May 1991. TSR ceased publication of Amazing with the Winter 1995 issue,[52] but in 1997, shortly after they were acquired by Wizards of the Coast,[53] the magazine was relaunched, again with Mohan as editor. This version lasted for only ten issues, though it did include a special celebratory 600th issue in early 2000. The science fiction trade journal Locus commented in an early review that distribution of the magazine seemed to be weak.[54] The title proved unable to survive: the last issue of this version was dated Summer 2000. The title was then acquired by Paizo Publishing, who launched a new monthly version in September 2004. The February 2005 issue was the last printed;[52][55] a March 2005 issue was released in PDF format, and in March 2006 Paizo announced that it would no longer publish Amazing.[56] In September 2011, the trademark for Amazing Stories was acquired by Steve Davidson.[57] Two online issues appeared, in July and August 2012, followed by another in 2014.[58][59] Davidson relaunched print publication of Amazing Stories with the Fall 2018 issue.[60]

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