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Discovering Galaxy Science Fiction

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

galaxy-may-1952I’ve known about older speculative magazines for a few years – the pulp fiction magazines from decades ago. I listened to people talk about stories they read from those magazines, and it seemed like I was missing out on something.

I’m Matthew Wuertz, a fiction reader and writer. I’ve been a Black Gate reader since issue 7. I’ve met most of the Black Gate team over the years, and even took part in the 2010 Sword & Sorcery Panel Podcast with them at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus. I also have my own blog.

My wife’s van had Sirius Satellite Radio for a year, and I liked listening to the station that played old radio shows — including “X Minus One,” which had episodes of science fiction. One of the episodes was “Surface Tension” by James Blish, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction. When I heard of the episode’s origin, my curiosity in pulp magazines increased. And now I had a title in mind. I recall thinking, “Would it be possible to actually get one of these Galaxy magazines in my hands?”

A short time later, John O’Neill posted the article “How Galaxy Magazine Saved Robert Silverberg from a Life of Smoking,” so I asked how one might acquire an issue. One of the answers was eBay, and John posted several links to active auctions.

At this point, my wife, whose eBay prowess amazes me, became involved. In mere moments, she was saving search results and tracking a number of options. After considering several choices, I chose an auction for 22 issues of Galaxy. So we made a bid. It was a long week until the auction ended, but we won.

When the magazines finally arrived, I was so excited. These were pocketbook-sized magazines with incredible art on the covers, like astronauts mining asteroids with jackhammers while their cylindrical rocket ship floats overhead. This was on the cover of my oldest issue – May, 1952. I was holding a 60-year-old magazine in my hands! I could hardly wait to open the musty, faded pages and read stories written long before I’d been born. See the complete lot here.

What lies within those pages will be revealed another time. I need to stop here. Those astronaut miners are waiting for me.


  1. A fine tale of adventure and discovery, Matt!

    Waiting anxiously to hear more detail on what treasures you found waiting within those ancient pages. Don’t leave us hanging!

    Comment by John ONeill - August 15, 2012 5:48 pm

  2. Nice purchase!

    Will you be forced to share them with your wife?

    Comment by Mister_Alex - August 15, 2012 10:24 pm

  3. It’s kind of hard to explain why holding that 60-year-old magazine is so much different than just a reading a reprint. It’s like holding a piece of history, connecting not only with the writers, but with the fan who first spent thirty-five cents on that issue sixty years ago. And then imagining all the shelves it rested on, how many years it spent buried in packing crates, a treasure whose value is only recognized by a few people.

    And maybe wondering where that issue will be resting sixty years from now, what fan not yet born will be holding that artifact on the next step in its journey.

    Congratulations on winning the bid.

    Comment by MichaelPenkas - August 15, 2012 11:23 pm

  4. Mister_Alex – No, I don’t think she has an interest in reading them for herself. She’s more into comic books. :-)

    Comment by Matthew Wuertz - August 15, 2012 11:36 pm

  5. Michael – Exactly. The back of the oldest issue was stamped with Kessler AFB. Kessler Air Force Base is still around. And this was around the time of the Korean War. Makes you wonder about the story of the original owner.

    Comment by Matthew Wuertz - August 15, 2012 11:38 pm

  6. […] If you’re serious about collecting vintage SF digests, you should probably start with Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Astounding. At least, that’s the conventional wisdom, and it’s hard to argue with. (You can read Matthew Wuertz’s recent experiences getting started collecting Galaxy here.) […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: A Box of 1950s SF and Fantasy Magazines, and the End of the First Era of Space Exploration - August 26, 2012 8:43 pm

  7. […] my last post, Discovering Galaxy Science Fiction, I shared my excitement in discovering Galaxy magazine and getting my hands on some issues. While I […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » You’ll Never See it in Galaxy - September 4, 2012 10:31 am

  8. […] collecting and reading Galaxy magazine (originally titled Galaxy Science Fiction). Within my initial collection I had the May, 1952 issue (Volume 4, Number 2 for those who want to get that detailed). The issue […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1952: A Retro-Review - September 9, 2012 2:17 pm

  9. […] in my discovery of Galaxy magazine, I began reading the first issue, dated October, 1950. I knew what I’d never […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » A Review of Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950 - October 14, 2012 5:44 pm

  10. […] slowly making my way through my collection of Galaxy Science Fiction, continuing with the second issue, dated November, […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1950: A Retro-Review - December 17, 2012 1:03 am

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