When Galaxy came out in 1950, the old pulp magazines were still doing reasonably well, though they were clearly on the decline. Galaxy editor Horace L. Gold put out a one-page ad on the back of the first issue making fun of the Space Westerns that had typified the pulps since the 20’s and promising that no such trash would appear between the covers of his fine magazine.
Gold kept his promise and seems to be having the last laugh. The pulps were pretty well gone by the time I’d gotten hooked on science fiction digests (1954), and the digests that continue the tradition of the Space Western seem to be dying out.
Except for Amazing. The first of the science fiction magazines has not changed its content in a long time, and reading an issue is like traveling back ten or twenty years. Tales of strong-chinned heroes and tough-talking thugs and beautiful damsels gallivanting around the planets like folks taking the stage from Pecos to El Paso, with terrain to match. This latest issue (November 1958) includes a story that takes place on the moon, which is adorned with volcanoes and vegetation. In 1958! Just to make sure I was with the times, I went into my daughter’s room and leafed through Roy A. Gallant’s fine hardcover, “exploring the planets,” (lower-case transcribed faithfully). Sure enough, the moon is dead and airless. Gallant’s book was published this year, and I don’t doubt its accuracy. I guess someone needs to tell Paul Fairman (Amazing’s editor) what decade this is.
Now, I suppose I’m going to get a lot of negative comments such as the ones that I read in a similar magazine, “Imagination,” (“Madge” to its readers) before it, too, went out of print. “Madge” was filled with angry letters and defiant editorials denigrating “egghead sci-fi.” After a long day at work (the editor said) a guy just wanted some adventure yarns. He shouldn’t have to think so hard.
(Of course, I only read “Madge” for Fandora’s Box, Mari Wolf’s excellent round-up of conventions and fanzines. I miss her. I believe her replacement on the column by Robert Bloch in ’56 was the proximate cause for the magazine’s recent demise. And the lousy stories. Oh, did I say that out loud?)
Anyway, back to Amazing. I can’t imagine there is much of an audience anymore for the kind of backward stuff appearing in its pages. Anyone into such fare would be better served by the sci-fi movies coming out these days. I’ll go out on a limb right now and predict that Amazing will be off the shelves before the decade is through.
Of course, I reserve the right to pretend I never made this prediction if Amazing does survive. My fans (bless both of you!) will be kind enough to burn their copies of this article, I’m sure.
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