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Science Fantasy [magazine]

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Publication.


1. UK Digest-size magazine published from Summer 1950 by Nova Publications as a companion to New Worlds; subsequently taken over by Roberts & Vinter in June/July 1964, thereafter in a pocketbook format. 81 issues appeared as Science Fantasy Summer 1950 to February 1966, and twelve more March 1966 to February 1967 as Impulse (March-July 1966) and SF Impulse (August 1966-February 1967). Issues #1 and #2 (Summer-Winter 1950) were edited by Walter Gillings; John Carnell then took over until Nova folded. The Roberts & Vinter version was edited until September 1966 by Kyril Bonfiglioli; the last five issues were ed Harry Harrison and Keith Roberts, though for one week in late May/early June 1966 J G Ballard was editor.

Science Fantasy was numbered consecutively from #1 to #81 (February 1966). Numeration was begun again with the title change to Impulse, in March 1966, with one volume of twelve numbered issues (hence Impulse is sometimes regarded as a separate magazine). Early on Science Fantasy appeared irregularly, with only six issues 1950-1953, but from March 1954 an uneasy bimonthly schedule began, lapsing to quarterly every now and then, improving in the late 1950s. A regular monthly schedule ran from March 1965 to the end.

Science Fantasy used offbeat Fantasy together with some sf not too different from that published in its companion, New Worlds (but only rarely the kind of whimsical story associated with the US Unknown). While Carnell was editing both, Science Fantasy tended to use stories of greater length than New Worlds, including numerous novellas. Many of its lead stories were supplied by John Brunner, Kenneth Bulmer and Michael Moorcock, all of whom published some of their best early work in its pages. Brunner's stories "City of the Tiger" (December 1958) and "The Whole Man" (April 1959) were combined as his Hugo-nominated novel The Whole Man (exp fixup 1964; vt Telepathist 1965). The first of Brunner's Traveller in Black stories appeared here, "Imprint of Chaos" (August 1960), and likewise the first of Moorcock's Elric stories, "The Dreaming City" (June 1961). Science Fantasy also published some of the earliest stories of Brian W Aldiss and J G Ballard, part of Aldiss's first sf novel, Non-Stop (1956 #17; exp 1958; cut vt Starship 1959) and virtually all the important early work of Thomas Burnett Swann. Science Fantasy was nominated for the Hugo award in three successive years, 1962-1964.

After Bonfiglioli became editor in 1964, Keith Roberts, Christopher Priest, Josephine Saxton and Brian Stableford all made their debuts in the magazine, and the early Impulse issues featured Keith Roberts's Pavane stories (March-July 1966; fixup 1968). During Carnell's incumbency Science Fantasy published material of a higher quality than its companion, but after its sale in 1964 – despite Bonfiglioli and his editorial successors buying some good material – it was overshadowed by Moorcock's New Worlds, with which it ultimately merged. New Worlds and Science Fantasy were the best sf magazines published in the UK before Interzone joined them in this category. As with New Worlds some unsold issues of the Roberts & Vinter Science Fantasy were bound up in twos and threes and sold under the title SF Reprise, these being SF Reprise 3 (anth 1966) containing #67-#69; SF Reprise 4 (anth 1966) containing #70-#71; and SF Reprise 6 (anth 1966) containing #72-#73.

The cover art of Science Fantasy was intermittently of a high standard, especially that by Brian Lewis, who did most of the covers 1958-1961, and Keith Roberts, who did nearly all the covers from 1965 until the end. Roberts's bold semi-abstractions were quite outside the conventions of genre-sf Illustration, and Lewis's surreal landscapes, reminiscent of the work of Max Ernst (1891-1976), were also unusual. The Daymakers: Selected Stories from Science Fantasy (anth 2014), edited by John Boston and Damien Broderick, is an Anthology drawn from the magazine. [BS/MA]

see also: Fantasy Review.

2. See Science Fantasy Yearbook, of which Science Fantasy was a variant title.

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