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New Writings in SF

Entry updated 28 November 2022. Tagged: Publication.

Original-Anthology series begun in 1964 by John Carnell after he relinquished the editorship of New Worlds and Science Fantasy, though planned several months before he announced his departure, when Carnell believed the day of the fiction magazine was over in Britain and the future was in the paperback book. The UK paperback editions (all published by Corgi) sometimes preceded hardcover publication, and in the case of #30, the last in the series, there was no hardcover. The hardcover editions were published by Dennis Dobson to #20, then by Sidgwick and Jackson. New Writings in SF carried on the tradition of Carnell's New Worlds: predominantly middle-of-the-road sf, leavened with occasional more adventurous pieces and saved from staleness by his willingness to publish new writers. Regular contributors included not only Colin Kapp (chiefly with his Unorthodox Engineers series), Douglas R Mason (under his own name and as John Rankine), John Rackham (J T Phillifent) and James White (including several stories in his Sector General series), but also Keith Roberts, while M John Harrison and Christopher Priest both published early short stories in its pages and Damien Broderick made his first sale here. New Writings in SF was intended to be a quarterly, but later its appearances became erratic. New Writings in SF 1 (anth 1964) was followed by New Writings in SF 2 (anth 1964), and so on to New Writings in SF 21 (anth 1972), this last being published after Carnell's death. Nine volumes of this series were published in the USA by Bantam Books 1966-1972, with some difference in contents after the first 6: the US #7 drew from the UK #7, #8 and #9; US #8 drew from UK #10, #11 and #12; US #9 drew from UK #12, #13, #14 and #15.

The series remained alive after Carnell's death, its editorship being taken over by Kenneth Bulmer from New Writings in SF 22 (anth 1973). This brought about no substantial change in policy, although one feature of Bulmer's New Writings in SF was Brian W Aldiss's Three Enigmas series of offbeat triptychs. New authors to debut in the later issues included David Langford, Charles Partington (see New Worlds; Something Else) and Cherry Wilder, and there were early stories by Robert P Holdstock and Ian Watson. Bulmer continued to edited the series from New Writings in SF 23 (anth 1973) to New Writings in SF 30 (anth 1978). At this point the market for Anthologies was looking even gloomier than usual in the UK, and the series ended.

Seldom groundbreaking but always reliable, New Writings in SF had many UK devotees but failed to achieve a genre impact comparable to the major original-anthology series in the US (e.g., Orbit, Universe), which mostly began somewhat later. Associated anthologies are The Best from New Writings in SF: First Selection (anth 1971) edited by Carnell and three omnibus volumes: New Writings in SF: Special 1 (anth 1975), containing #21 and #23; New Writings in SF: Special 2 (anth 1978), containing #26 and #29; and New Writings in SF: Special 3 (anth 1978), containing #27 and #28. [MJE/PN/MA/DRL]

New Writings in SF

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