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Author: Erik Mona

Reading the Avon Fantasy Reader — Issue 1: What Defines a Classic?

Reading the Avon Fantasy Reader — Issue 1: What Defines a Classic?

Avon Fantasy Reader #1 (Avon Books, February 1947). Cover artist unknown

On the occasion of this year’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention — my fifth — I resolved to learn from past mistakes and come armed with a specific list of items needed to plug holes in my considerable collection of science fiction and fantasy paperbacks and pulps. This year, I came looking to complete my set of all 18 volumes of Donald A. Wollheim’s Avon Fantasy Reader, a digest magazine I’d poked at before due to its propensity to publish works by Clark Ashton Smith, a writer who never disappoints. The convention coughed up all but two of my missing issues, but crucially provided the first volume in the series, which I had never before seen in person. I snagged it immediately, of course, and began reading it that day.

The Avon Fantasy Reader ran 18 issues, from February 1947 to March 1952. Originally intended as a quarterly, it usually managed three issues per year. Wollheim’s introduction to the first volume promises tales of fantasy and imagination about “those strange forces which exist just beyond the boundaries of knowledge.” He further touts a roster of authors that represented “a sure guarantee of the best stories of their kind available.”

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