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Galaxy Online

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Publication.

A website, based in Westlake Village, California, which went live as a pilot on 1 January 2000 and was planned by founder Douglas E Conway as "the largest science-fiction and science-fact-related Interactive Online Network in the universe." The backbone of the website was Galaxy Pictures which, according to the press release, had already amassed "the largest library in the world of science-fiction and science-related shows for internet broadcast." Conway based the website on Omni but he wanted it to be far more interactive and offer a much wider range of material. This included Games, books and more than 7000 items of merchandise and collectibles. Conway assembled an advisory board which included television director Tony Dow, physicist Jim Meecham and scriptwriter and sf writer David Gerrold. Gerrold suggested that Conway bring Ben Bova on board because of his experience at Omni and in publishing. With Bova and Gerrold's connections the rest of the science fiction community was soon involved and the site began to post fiction and essays, with Bova writing editorials. Columnists included David Brin, Gregory Benford and Mike Resnick. The first new fiction was the first English-language appearance of "The Elephants of Poznan" (May 1999 Nowa Fantastyka as "Poznańskie slonie"; 15 January 2000) by Orson Scott Card. Rick Wilber was appointed as fiction editor and each month further stories were uploaded. Most were reprints, including Robert A Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth" (8 February 1947 Saturday Evening Post), but there were a few new stories including "Waterbaby" (10 July 2000) by Orson Scott Card.

Galaxy Online continued to grow during 2000 even though long-term finances had not been secured. Conway sought to acquire the title to Amazing Stories and when that fell through he pursued the rights to Galaxy then in the hands of E J Gold (see Galaxy E-Zine). That was agreed at the end of 2000 and the deal went through in February 2001. However, by then problems had firmly set in. With no prospect of financial support, Ben Bova resigned followed by Rick Wilber. Doug Conway himself resigned in May 2001 at which point Galaxy Online effectively ceased to exist. It had been a bold, ambitious but ultimately ill-planned venture which sought to ride the boom and crashed with it. [MA]

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