Galileo Magazine of Science & Fiction, November 1979: A Retro-Review

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018 | Posted by Adrian Simmons


Cover art by Larry Blamire – “Louis Wu Making Good His Escape”

I’m going to start my review of the November 1979 issue of Galileo magazine by talking about Omni. I’ve heard people, people of a certain age — people who were there, man — talk about Omni like it was the second coming of Christ. I bring that up because Galileo magazine was like Christ rolled the stone out of the way and was serving up fancy drinks in the tomb.

I’m also going to start my review of Galileo Magazine by kicking F&SF while it’s down. F&SF can’t scrape together a single piece of internal artwork? Galileo has artwork, multiple pieces at times, for each story, each article. Yes, yes, we know how it ends; slow and steady F&SF eventually wins this race, but you get my point.

In short, Galileo, while not perfect, certainly swings for the fences. It was a science fiction magazine that had one foot well in the world of sf/f writers, one foot well in the world of the serious sf/f fan, one hand guiding the casual sf/f fan, and one hand embracing the growing spheres of TV, movies, and games. It had artwork (although it was all black and white, which is one of the only things about it that seems a bit dated), and yes, it had fiction. Pretty good fiction, all around.

It is a crying shame that Galileo magazine folded in January, 1980 — literally the very next issue! It burned a bright trail in sf/f for a little less than four years.

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Finding Galileo in Florence

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


Galileo’s tomb in Santa Croce, Florence

Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and home to countless great names in art, literature, and science. For me, though, one figure towers over them all–Galileo Galilei. He was a man who profoundly changed how we look at the universe, a true genius whose impact is still felt today.

So I and my astronomer wife went searching for him in Florence. Call it a pilgrimage if you want. It certainly felt that way to me.

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Asimov’s Science Fiction, November 1979: A Retro-Review

Monday, August 12th, 2019 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

Asimov’s Science Fiction November 1979-small

Asimov’s Science Fiction, November 1979
Edited by George H. Scithers
Published by Davis Publications. 196 pages, $1.25

I heard you missed me! I’m back!

Technically, this is Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (now known as Asimov’s Science Fiction). It was a refreshing change of pace after Galileo’s ‘story behind the story,’ and Analog’s massive book review. Asimov’s was pretty much fiction and nothing but fiction. 192 pages of it, as the cover advertises!

Also advertised, Dungeons and Dragons — and not ‘Advanced’ D&D, but the original. Takin’ it back! Also, as I’ve said elsewhere, taking readers away from sci-fi magazines in the long run.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, July 5th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Heinlein accepting the Nebula

Heinlein accepting the Nebula

Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein

The Forry Award has been presented annually by LASFS (the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society) since 1966 and is named for Forrest J Ackerman.  The award celebrates lifetime achievement in science fiction and the recipients are selected by a vote among LASFS members. The first award was presented in 1966 to Ray Bradbury and has generally been presented to science fiction professionals, although an occasional fan has received the award as well.  Ackerman didn’t receive the award until 2002. Robert A. Heinlein received the award in 1980. The award was presented at Loscon 7, the weekend of November 28-30 at the Anaheim Sheraton.

Books have and will continued to be written about Robert A. Heinlein, some recent examples being William H. Patterson’s two volume Heinlein biography and Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. From 1979, there was H. Bruce Franklin’s Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, which I discussed on May 6. Of course, Heinlein also has his staunch devotees and partisans as well as his detractors.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Locus

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver







The Best Fanzine category was not one of the original Hugo categories in 1953, but was introduced at the second awards in 1955, when it was won by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten for Fantasy-Times. Since then, some version of the award has been a constant, with the exception of 1958, when the award was dropped. Although achievement in fanzines was recognized throughout the history of the Hugo Awards, the name of the away was in flux. Originally called the Hugo for Best Fanzine, in 1956 and 1957, the award was presented for Best Fan Magazine. The name then switched back and forth at random intervals between Best Amateur Magazine (in 1959, 63-64, 66, 72-75, 77-78) and Best Fanzine (the other years in that sequence) until it permanently became the award for Best Fanzine in 1979.

Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, losing to Richard E. Geis’s Science Fiction Review. It was then nominated every year until 1983 with the exception of 1979, winning the Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1971, 1972, 1976, 1978, and from 1980 to 1983 inclusive, at which time it was no longer eligible for the category with the creation of the Hugo Award for Best Semi-Prozine. During the 1970s and early 80s, Locus, which began in 1968 to promote the Boston bid for a Worldcon in 1971, which became Noreascon I, was becoming less and less of a fanzine, accepting advertisements and paying for content.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Leanne Frahm

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gavin O'Keefe

Cover by Gavin O’Keefe

The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned. Ditmar would eventually win the Ditmar Award for best fan artist twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010.

The first Ditmar for Best Fan Writer was awarded in 1979, when it was won by Marc Ortlieb. The award has been presented each year since then with a record four-year winning streak set by Bruce Gillespie (1989-92). Gillespie tied with Ian Gunn in the second year of that winning streak and has won the award a record nine times between 1989 and 2005. Leanne Frahm won the award for the first time in 1980 and would win the award a second time in 1998.

Leanne Frahm was born in Brisbane, Australia on February 28, 1946.

Frahm attended James Cook University and worked in a bank. She became involved in acting in and directing community plays and eventually attended a writers’ workshop in Sydney, which led to her publishing in fanzanes and a professional career.

She was nominated for the Ditmar Award for Best Fan Writer in 1979 and the following year she won the award. She would win a second Ditmar Award for Best Fan Writer in 1998.

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Analog, November 1979: A Retro-Review

Monday, February 11th, 2019 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

Analog 1979-small Analog 1979-back-small

The November 1979 Analog has probably the least appealing magazine cover I’ve ever seen. By Richard Anderson, for the story “Phoenix.” However, when we get to the story itself, that guy… that guy has seen some things, man.

Guest Editorial, by G. Harry Stine.

So… Harry Stine is a writer, space advocate, and a major founder of model rocketry, and he is unhappy with this whole idea that humans will never break the light speed barrier. So, as you do, he writes a bit of a hatchet-job on Albert Einstein, or at least those people lacking enough imagination to assume Einstein didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

He was so successful at it, as a matter of fact, that a whole new cult of Keepers of the Faith have taken over and continue to look upon the Universe with the tunnel vision created by the blinders of their interpretations of Einstein’s work.

He goes on like this for easily 6 pages, hitting all the high points of various scientific ‘certainties’ that were exploded by later experimentations and observations. At least it wasn’t an article about telepathy…

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Pickpockets and Stendhal Syndrome: First Impressions of Florence

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


The fortified palace of the Medici

I love being married to a scientist.

My wife was giving a seminar at Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence last week and instead of staying home and writing like I probably should have, I decided to tag along. It was my fourth time in Italy and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Four days in Florence didn’t change that.

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance is a visual overload of beauty, so much so that when I gave a talk yesterday on using setting in writing, I gave Florence as an example of a place that’s impossible to describe without having an intimate knowledge of it. The entire trip I suffered from Stendhal Syndrome, a condition named after the 19th century French author who fell into a swoon from all the beauty he was exposed to in Florence. It was impossible to take it all in.

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The Big Little SF Magazines of the 1970s

Sunday, August 5th, 2018 | Posted by Rich Horton

analog-aug-74-smallAn earlier version of this article was published in Black Gate 10.

These columns are focused on the history of SF – and so far that has turned out to mean mostly discussion of 50s oriented subjects, with some leakage into nearer years. But now I’d like to take a look at a rather more recent, and rather less celebrated, period. The 1970s. The time of wide ties, leisure suits, and disco. And also the time I discovered SF, and the SF magazines.

My first look at real SF magazines is a moment I remember with a continued thrill. Sometime in late July 1974, in Alton Drugs in Naperville, IL, I wandered by the newsstand and my eyes lit on three magical covers: the August 1974 issues of Analog, Galaxy, and F&SF. That day I bought Analog. The cover story was “Enter a Pilgrim” by Gordon R. Dickson, with a striking, odd, John Schoenherr painting, featuring an alien with a lance and ceramic-appearing armor (a sort of Schoenherr trademark, that ceramic-like surface).

I read that issue quickly and the next day I bought Galaxy, which featured “The Day Before the Revolution,” an Ursula K. Le Guin story that would win a Hugo, as well as parts of two different serials – The Company of Glory by Edgar Pangborn and Orbitsville by Bob Shaw. Of course that issue was also read before the day was out, and the next day I bought F&SF – a very important issue in its own way: it featured John Varley’s first published story (or perhaps his co-first story, as we will see later.) It wasn’t long before I had added Amazing and Fantastic to the roster. Soon I was subscribing to several magazines, and buying the others each month at the newsstand.

Those five were all the major, well-distributed, magazines there were by 1975. Alas, I just missed seeing If, Galaxy’s long time companion: it was discontinued at the end of 1974, and for some reason my local newsstand didn’t carry it, at least not those last few months.

I had formed an opinion, based on received conventional wisdom, that the “Big Three” of SF magazines had been Astounding/Analog, F&SF, and Galaxy since 1950: certainly that was the case in 1975. (You will get an argument for many years prior to that, however: there are partisans for Startling Stories in the early 50s, for If at various times, especially during Frederik Pohl’s peak editorial period in the mid-60s, and for Amazing and Fantastic under Cele Goldsmith’s editorial hand in the early 60s.)

Galaxy, however, was in some financial trouble. Under Jim Baen’s editorship it enjoyed a couple of years as a truly wonderfully enjoyable magazine, but when he left the decline was swift. However, Galaxy’s place in the “Big Three” was quickly taken by Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. And throughout the 70s, the sister magazines Amazing and Fantastic, edited by Ted White, were the other major prozines.

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Vintage Treasures: Fire Watch by Connie Willis

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Fire Watch Connie Willis-small Fire Watch Connie Willis-back-small

Fire Watch was the first collection from Connie Willis, and it had a huge impact on the field. It came in second for the Locus Award for Best Collection in 1986 (beating out George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, Larry Niven’s Limits, and Viriconium Nights by M. John Harrison, and losing out only to Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew). Its publication announced the arrival of a major new talent.

Willis  published over half a dozen additional collections in the next 30+ years, including the Locus Award-winning Impossible Things (1994), the monumental 740-page The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories (2007), and the Locus Award-winning The Best of Connie Willis (2013), but I think it’s fair to say that this is probably still her most famous.

The copy above is the the one I found at Half Price Books last month, and not the first paperback edition. Fire Watch was published in hardcover by James Frenkel’s Bluejay Books in 1985; the first paperback edition appeared from Bantam a year later (see that one below).

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