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Future Fiction

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Publication.


US magazine. 17 issues November 1939 to July 1943, 48 further issues May/June 1950 to April 1960. Published by Blue Ribbon Magazines, later Double Action Magazines and (from April 1941) Columbia Publications; edited by Charles D Hornig (November 1939-November 1940) and Robert A W Lowndes (April 1941-April 1960). Future Fiction began as a companion magazine to Science Fiction (see Science Fiction Stories), with similar editorial policies. It absorbed its parent magazine in October 1941, changing its title to Future Combined with Science Fiction. Under Lowndes's editorship it began to feature stories by such fellow Futurians as James Blish, C M Kornbluth and Donald A Wollheim, often under pseudonyms. It also carried some of the earliest magazine covers done by Hannes Bok. The title changed again to Future Fantasy and Science Fiction in October 1942, and finally to Science Fiction Stories in April 1943. The two issues of this final wartime incarnation are virtually identical in appearance to Science Fiction, but as they continue the numbering of Future Fiction they are considered part of its run.

Future Fiction was one of the many magazines to fall victim to wartime paper shortages, but it was revived under the same editor in 1950 as Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories, which became Future Science Fiction Stories in January 1952 and, finally, Future Science Fiction in May 1952. It changed from Pulp to Digest size in June 1954. It was one of several respectable magazines edited on shoestring budgets by Lowndes during the 1950s. The volume numbering was taken over by Science Fiction (see Science Fiction Stories) with its January 1955 issue (vol 5 #4), suggesting the death of Future Science Fiction; however, the latter reappeared a little later in 1955, apparently unhurt, with #28.

Lowndes knew that with his limited budget he had to rely either on rejects from the major magazines, especially after Galaxy appeared in 1950, or on acquaintances within the field. This proved his strength as he was a very personable editor and Lowndes would often receive stories that were perfectly adequate but didn't quite fit the requirements of John W Campbell Jr at Astounding or Horace Gold at Galaxy. Two good examples are "Testament of Andros" (January 1953) by James Blish a bleak apocalyptic vision by a deranged mind and "The Liberation of Earth" (May 1954) by William Tenn, a defiant anti-McCarthyesque story of combating alien domination. When Science Fiction was revived in 1955, Future thereafter played second fiddle though it did not stop Lowndes capturing the occasional masterwork such as Philip K Dick's dystopic vision of a Computer controlled future, "Vulcan's Hammer" ([April] 1956; exp 1960 #29). Future published the first stories by F M Busby and Carol Emshwiller. Lowndes made Future a home for studies of the science-fiction field with a perceptive book review column (with many by Damon Knight), and his own illuminating editorials which included a series looking back at the early days of the science fiction Magazines, "Yesterday's World of Tomorrow" (Summer 1957-August 1959). Future was a good example of the triumph of ingenuity over resources.

There were two UK reprint runs of Future Science Fiction, 14 issues 1951-1954 in pulp format (under similar variant titles), and 11 digest issues 1957-1960. [MA/MJE/PN]


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