Analog Science Fiction and Fact

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Astonishing Stories was an American pulp science fiction magazine, published by Popular Publications between 1940 and 1943. It was founded under Popular's "Fictioneers" imprint, which paid lower rates than Popular's other magazines. The magazine's first editor was Frederik Pohl, who also edited a companion publication, Super Science Stories. After nine issues Pohl was replaced by Alden H. Norton, who subsequently rehired Pohl as an assistant. The budget for Astonishing was very low, which made it difficult to acquire good fiction, but through his membership of the Futurians, a group of young science fiction fans and aspiring writers, Pohl was able to find material to fill the early issues. The magazine was successful, and Pohl was able to increase his pay rates slightly within a year. He managed to obtain stories by writers who subsequently became very well known, such as Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. After Pohl entered the army in early 1943, wartime paper shortages led Popular to cease publication of Astonishing. The final issue was dated April of that year.

The magazine was never regarded as one of the leading titles of the genre, but despite the low budget it published some well-received material. Science fiction critic Peter Nicholls comments that "its stories were surprisingly good considering how little was paid for them", and this view has been echoed by other historians of the field.

Publication history

Although science fiction (sf) had been published before the 1920s, it did not begin to coalesce into a separately marketed genre until the appearance in 1926 of Amazing Stories, a pulp magazine published by Hugo Gernsback. (The "Hugo Awards" for Science Fiction are named after Gernsback.) By the end of the 1930s the field was booming, and several new sf magazines were launched in 1939. Frederik Pohl, a young science fiction reader, was looking for a job that year. He asked Robert Erisman, who was the editor of two pulps, Marvel Science Stories and Dynamic Science Stories, to ask for a job as an assistant. Erisman turned him down, but suggested that Pohl contact Rogers Terrill at Popular Publications, a leading pulp publisher. Erisman had heard that Popular were starting a new line of magazines, and thought that they might be interested in adding a science fiction title. On October 25, 1939, Pohl visited Terrill and persuaded him to give the idea a try, and left Terrill's office having been hired, at the age of nineteen, to edit two new magazines, on a salary of ten dollars per week. Pohl later realized that he got the job by an accident of timing; he applied just as the publisher needed new editors for a new line of magazines. Pohl commented that "they would have hired Mothra, or Og, Son of Fire, just about as readily right then, because they were very interested in expanding". One was Super Science Stories; the other was at one point intended to be titled Incredible Stories, but ultimately appeared as Astonishing Stories.

Popular were not confident that the two new titles would sell well, and decided to publish them under their Fictioneers imprint, which was the umbrella for their lower-paying magazines. Astonishing's first issue was dated February 1940; it was bimonthly, alternating monthly with Super Science Stories. Pohl's budget for an issue was $405: in Pohl's memoirs he recalls Harry Steeger, one of the company owners, breaking down the budget for him: "Two hundred seventy-five dollars for stories. A hundred dollars for black and white art. Thirty dollars for a cover." Pohl could only offer half a cent per word for fiction, well below the rates offered by the leading magazines. By 1938, John W. Campbell at Astounding Stories was paying one cent per word, with a bonus for the readers' favorite story in the issue. At ten cents, the magazine was cheaper than any of the other sf magazines of the day, and it sold well, despite Pohl's limited resources. It was certainly assisted by Popular's wide and effective distribution network, and the publisher soon increased Pohl's budget, to pay bonuses for popular stories. For example, Isaac Asimov records that he was paid five-eighths of a cent per word for his story "Half-Breeds on Venus" in June 1940, Asimov, In Memory Yet Green, and Pohl paid himself three-quarters of a cent per word for "The King's Eye", which appeared in the February 1941 Astonishing under Pohl's "James McCreigh" alias. Pohl later commented that he was uncertain whether the additional funds really helped to bring in higher quality submissions, although at the time he assured Steeger it would improve the magazine. Some of the additional money went to long-time writer Ray Cummings, who was sufficiently well known that the young Pohl felt unable to reject his stories, even though he disliked his work. Cummings came to see Pohl in person to submit his work, and refused to sell for less than one cent a word; since the first visit came on a day when Pohl had some extra money available, Pohl was never able to bring himself to tell Cummings that he could not really afford to pay that rate. Pohl comments in his memoirs that "for months he would turn up regularly as clockwork and sell me a new story; I hated them all, and bought them all."

More information on this topic is available at [ Wikipedia:Analog_Science_Fiction_and_Fact ]
Science fiction pulp magazines

A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine · Amazing Stories · Astounding Stories · Astonishing Stories · Captain Future · Comet · Cosmic Stories · Dynamic Science Fiction · Dynamic Science Stories · Famous Fantastic Mysteries · Fantastic Adventures · Fantastic Novels · Fantastic Story Magazine · Fantasy · Future Science Fiction · Marvel Science Stories · Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories · Out of This World Adventures · Planet Stories · Satellite Science Fiction · Science Fiction · Science Fiction Quarterly · Space Stories · Startling Stories · Stirring Science Stories · Strange Stories · Strange Tales · Super Science Fiction · Super Science Stories · Science fiction magazines · Tales of Magic and Mystery · Tales of Wonder · Ten Story Fantasy · Tops in Science Fiction · Two Complete Science-Adventure Books · Uncanny Stories · Uncanny Tales (Canadian) · Uncanny Tales (U.S.) · Unknown · Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine · Weird Tales · Wonder Stories


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