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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: George Scithers

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Photo by John Teehan

Photo by John Teehan

The Best Professional Editor category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953. It was introduced in 1973 as a replacement for the Best Magazine award, partly to recognize the name of the individual who was the driving force behind the magazines, but also, at least in theory, to open the award up to anthology editors, although an anthology editor wouldn’t win until 1985. For the first five years the award was presented, it was won by Ben Bova. In 2007, the award was split into Best Editor, Long Form and Best Editor, Short Form. Gardner Dozois won the Best Professional Editor Award fifteen times, including a six-year streak and a seven-year streak. George H. Scithers won the award for the first time in 1978, ending Ben Bova’s streak, and then for a second time in 1980.

George Scithers had a long career in science fiction, both professionally and in fandom. He began publishing articles in the fanzine Yandro in 1957 and in 1959, he began publishing his own ‘zine, Amra, which won Scithers his first two Hugo Awards (in 1964 and 1968). Amra, which was a Robert E. Howard specialty ‘zine, is also the ‘zine which coined the term “Sword and Sorcery.”

In 1963, Scithers chaired Discon I, the 21st World Science Fiction Convention. He wrote The Con-Committee Chairman’s Guide to provide guidance for future chairmen. For several years in the 60s, he also served as the Worldcon Parliamentarian.

Scithers founded Owlswick Press in 1973 and over the years published works by Roy Krenkel, L. Sprague de Camp, Jack Williamson, Barry B. Longyear, and others. The final two volumes published by Owlswick came out in 1991 and 1993 and were collections by Avram Davidson.

Scithers was selected to be the founding editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in 1977 and oversaw the selection of stories from the first issue through 1982, when he left to take over the editorship of Amazing Stories for four years.

During 1979, Scithers published twelve stories by Barry B. Longyear in the pages of IASFM, as well as seven stories by John M. Ford. He published two Feghoots by Reginald Bretnor (writing as Grendal Briarton) as well as stories by Asimov, Jo Clayton, Gene Wolfe, George Alec Effinger, and Sharon Webb. He was also a Guest of Honor at NorthAmericon, the 1979 NASFIC.

After leaving Amazing Stories, Scithers worked to reestablish Weird Tales in conjunction with John Gregory Betancourt and Darrell Schweitzer. Schweitzer and Scithers eventually won a World Fantasy Award for their work on the project. Scithers also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Con in 2002. In 2001, Scithers was one of the Guests of Honor at Millennium Philcon, that year’s Worldcon.

George H. Scithers died on April 19, 2010.

To earn his second Professional Editor Hugo Award, Scithers had to best Ben Bova, Jim Baen, Edward L. Ferman, and Stanley Schmidt.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

3 Comments »

  1. Did you purposely post this on Scithers’ birthday?

    I found his Asimov’s a very enjoyable magazine during his stay.

    Comment by Rich Horton - May 14, 2019 7:46 am

  2. Funny how that timing works…

    Comment by Steven H Silver - May 14, 2019 8:40 am

  3. Specifically: “The term “sword and sorcery” was coined in 1961 by the celebrated American author Fritz Leiber in response to a letter from British author Michael Moorcock in the fanzine Amra, demanding a name for the sort of fantasy-adventure story written by Robert E. Howard.” I think we should give Fritz the credit, as he is given so little for doing so much

    Comment by RobertZoltan - May 15, 2019 11:47 pm


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