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SF Commentary

Entry updated 4 March 2024. Tagged: Fan, Publication.

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Australian Fanzine (1969-current) edited, published, and written by Bruce Gillespie, Melbourne, 97 issues to August 2018; some individual issues guest-edited by John Foyster (#10, #19, #27, #32, #34, #38) and Barry Gillam (#16).

US quarto (letter-size); duplicated #1 (January 1969) to #48/49/50 (October 1976); photo-offset #51 (March 1977) to #52 (June 1977); duplicated #53 (April 1978) to #55/56 (January 1979); photo-offset #57 (November 1979) to #66 (June 1981); duplicated #67 (January 1989) to #68 (March 1990). A4 photo-offset #69/70 (January 1991) onward; digital PDF only from #94 (June 2017) onward. Duplicated issues typically 40pp; photo-offset issues typically 60pp.

The magazine began as a successor to the influential Australian SF Review (first series) edited by John Bangsund. Early issues featured essays by Gillespie about the novels of Philip K Dick, collected in Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd (anth 1975) edited by Gillespie. #31 (December 1972) featured Dick's Vancouver Convention speech, "The Android and the Human". From #14 (August 1970), SF Commentary became more personal with the column "I Must Be Talking to My Friends" – combining diary entries, commentary, convention reports and letters of comment – becoming the central feature.

From 1969 to 1974, SF Commentary published major critical essays by Stanisław Lem (translated by Franz Rottensteiner and Werner Koopmann). "SF: A Hopeless Case: With Exceptions" (July 1973 #35/36/37) indirectly led to Lem's expulsion from Science Fiction Writers of America because of his perceived denigration of all American sf except that of Philip K Dick. There have been many large special issues: #10 (January 1970), featured Gillespie's 12,000-word study of the early novels of Brian W Aldiss; #19 (January 1971) reprinted the full text of John Foyster's small-circulation critical magazines exploding madonna and Journal of Omphalistic Epistemology (JOE); #43 (August 1975; republished as #79, February 2004) featured long essays about Wilson (Bob) Tucker by multiple contributors; #51 (March 1977) was the Robert Silverberg issue, with essays by Barry Gillam, George Turner and others; #54 (November 1978) featured 1978 Melbourne Convention speeches by Roger Zelazny and Brian Aldiss. The most consistent contributor was George Turner: 100,000 words of his essays, reviews and autobiographical essays appeared as #76 (October 2000), subtitled The Unrelenting Gaze.

Since 1995, most covers for most Gillespie fanzines have been created as computer graphics by Dick Jenssen, nicknamed Ditmar. SF Commentary was nominated three times for the Best Fanzine Hugo and won three Ditmar Awards; and received the FAAn Award for best genzine in 2024. [BG]

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