Galileo

Tagged: Publication

US letter-size magazine. 16 issues September 1976-January 1980, with #11/12, May 1979, being a double issue. Planned as quarterly, but bimonthly to September 1978, then irregular, with the last 4 issues bimonthly. Published by Vincent McCaffrey of Avenue Victor Hugo, Boston, Massachusetts; edited by Charles C Ryan.

Published on a small budget, Galileo hoped to survive through subscription sales rather than newsstand distribution. 8000 copies of the first issue were printed and sold. In magazine terms this is small, but the circulation steadily increased, at least initially. Printed on cheap newsprint, and using a number of stories by little-known writers, Galileo began quietly but showed signs of improvement by the third issue (April 1977). The great Renaissance scientist was evoked in the title because Galileo was planned to emulate his "indomitable spirit ... [and] undying quest for knowledge". Almost half of Galileo was devoted to science-fact articles, reviews and interviews because Ryan believed a magazine could no longer survive on fiction alone and it needed a diversity of content to attract and retain readers. He also felt that diversity would encourage interest in the topics closest to his own heart which was how science could help humanity save itself and the planet. At its core, therefore, Galileo was sprung from the same vat as Analog but with the social conscience of the early Galaxy. Early contributors included Brian W Aldiss, Ray Bradbury, Robert Chilson, Hal Clement (science fact) and Larry Niven, the latter with a serialization of Ringworld Engineers (1979; 1980). Ryan was good at encouraging new writers and his discoveries include Cynthia Felice, John Kessel and Lewis Shiner as well as re-starting the career of Connie Willis. Galileo published Willis's first Hugo-nominated story, "Daisy, in the Sun" (November 1979). Robert Silverberg's column, "Opinion" started its long life in issue #9 (July 1978) and continues today as "Reflections" in Asimov's.

Galileo soon became a victim of its own success. Sales increased rapidly, particularly subscriptions which leapt from a few thousand for the first issue to over 50,000 by July 1978. The records had originally been kept manually and the publisher hired a computer company to establish a system, but he changed through several companies to find one suitable and in that process records were lost. This meant re-entering all of the data from scratch, which delayed issues and resulted in the double issue in May 1979. This delay frustrated many new subscribers and subscriptions were not renewed. At this same time it was decided to distribute Galileo nationally, which meant printing more copies, and the distributor advanced McCaffrey the money for this. However the newsstand sales were not as high as anticipated and this coincided with the drop in subscription renewals. The result was that from a successful high, Galileo was suddenly in debt by $125,000. McCaffrey had to pull the plug and although the March 1980 issue was prepared it was never published. McCaffrey had also acquired the right to Galaxy which was going to alternate with Galileo, but although one issue of that was released in July 1980 no more appeared. In December Avenue Victor Hugo went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and though McCaffrey eventually paid off the debts, Galileo was no more. Editor Charles Ryan would, however, return with Aboriginal. [MA/PN]

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