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Science Fiction Adventures

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Publication.


Title used on two US Digest-size magazines during the 1950s, and on one UK magazine that began as a reprint and continued, using original material, after its parent – the second US magazine – folded. The title was used also as a variant title of Science Fiction Classics, January-May 1973, September and November 1974.

1. The first US magazine published nine issues November 1952 to June 1954. #1 was published by John Raymond's Science Fiction Publications (later Future Publications), New York. The issues November 1952-September 1953 were edited by Lester del Rey as Philip St John; Harry Harrison took over from December 1953. The schedule was irregularly bimonthly. It was one of four similar magazines published by Raymond and edited by del Rey with Space Science Fiction as the more senior title, Rocket Stories as the juvenile title and Science Fiction Adventures somewhere in between. (The fourth title was Fantasy Fiction.) Science Fiction Adventures was somewhat uneven and fitted uncomfortably between the policies of the other two sf titles, running material that could have slotted into either. Its most memorable publication was the serialization of Cyril M Kornbluth's The Syndic (December 1953-March 1954; 1953). Otherwise the magazine seemed to stand at a borderline between the old Pulp-style fiction and the new more thoughtful, socially aware fiction of the 1950s. It ran material by Raymond Z Gallun and Ross Rocklynne alongside Poul Anderson, Algis Budrys and Thomas N Scortia (his first story). Del Rey contributed his own serial, the rather hard-boiled Police Your Planet (March-September 1953; cut 1956) as by Erik Van Lhin. Damon Knight contributed a book review column and there was an interesting series of articles about science fiction, including "The Fiction in Science Fiction" (February 1954) by William Tenn.


2. The second US magazine, published by Royal Publications, was edited by Larry T Shaw and ran for twelve issues in eighteen months, December 1956-June 1958. The first issue was numbered, confusingly, volume 1 #6, continuing the numeration of a defunct magazine (Suspect Detective Stories) from the same publisher; however, the second was numbered volume 1 #2. Like Lester del Rey's magazine though more overtly, Shaw's concentrated on adventure stories. It focused on longer stories, usually featuring three long novelettes per issue. Edmond Hamilton contributed the first issue's lead story "The Starcombers" (December 1956), which promptly gave the magazine the feel of old-style Pulp fiction; few subsequent contributors did much to change that perception. Robert Silverberg, under various names, and sometimes in collaboration with an equally pseudonymous Randall Garrett, was a particularly prolific contributor with magazine versions of six of his early novels appearing there. Other contributors included Harlan Ellison and three who made a link back to del Rey's earlier title: Algis Budrys, Harry Harrison and Cyril Kornbluth. The magazine was unpretentious and enjoyable enough for the period, but holds little of interest today. It generated a British edition (see 3 below).


3. Novelettes from Shaw's magazine were resorted into five issues of a UK edition marketed March-November 1958 by Nova Publications, with both Shaw and John Carnell credited as editors. When the US edition ceased, Carnell alone, no longer using material from the parent magazine, continued Science Fiction Adventures for a further 27 issues until May 1963, using a great deal of material by Kenneth Bulmer (under various names) and novellas and novelettes by other writers regularly featured in the companion magazines New Worlds and Science Fantasy. Notable stories included John Brunner's Society of Time series (stories 1962; fixup as Times without Number 1962; rev 1974), the magazine version of J G Ballard's The Drowned World (January 1962; exp 1962), and, in #29 (November 1962) and #32 (May 1963), the novellas assembled as Michael Moorcock's first sf novel The Sundered Worlds (fixup 1965; vt The Blood Red Game 1970). The UK Science Fiction Adventures was numbered consecutively #1-#32, appearing approximately bimonthly to #14 and regularly bimonthly from then on. Though sometimes regarded as more juvenile than its two companion publications, it remained continuously enjoyable. An attractive feature for many readers was the magazine's focus on novella-length work: a typical issue would contain two substantial novellas, plus one or two short stories if they could be fitted in.

further reading


4. Variant title of Science Fiction Classics, January-May 1973, September and November 1974. [BS/MA]

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