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Polish monthly Magazine launched in the gloomy times of martial law in October 1982 as the first press publication exclusively devoted to Fantastika (John Clute's umbrella term is consciously and deliberately evoked here as derived from the Eastern European languages, including Polish "fantastyka", which universally covers all literature with fantastic elements in it and rather naturally was chosen as the title for the magazine); its scope was wide enough to include both Genre SF, Fantasy, and even stories by writers never associated with sf, such as Ian McEwan, whose "Solid Geometry" (in First Love, Last Rites, coll 1975) appeared in the March 1985 issue. Before that most sf stories were published in magazines for readers of technical and scientific interests, such as Młody Technik or Problemy, occasionally in the young-adult press, or anthologies.
In the 1980s Fantastyka played a predominant and crucial role in raising the awareness and popularity of science fiction as well as building up Polish fandom at the national level; its initial circulation reached 140 000 copies. Even though between 1982 and 1990 it published stories from various periods and schools of sf, only occasionally did it turn to the New Wave authors, and even less occasionally to contemporary writers, such as the Cyberpunks – in this period only two of their stories were published: Bruce Sterling's "Swarm" (April 1982 the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) in the May 1995 issue and "Mozart in Mirrorshades" by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner (September 1985 Omni) in the January 1987 issue. However, apart from short fiction, reviews, interviews, and columns, the magazine offered novellas and novels in its middle pull-out section. Between 1982 and 1999 many highly diverse texts appeared in it, giving Polish readers a taste of the historical, thematic, and stylistic opulence of fantastic fiction. To give an example of this variety of titles and historical periods suffice it to say that within the first few years of the magazine's sale such novellas and novels were published as "A Song For Lya" (June 1974 Analog) by George R R Martin, Zhuk v muraveinikeamazon (1979; trans by Antonina W Bouis as Beetle in the Anthill 1980) by Arkady Strugatski and Boris Strugatski, Recall Not Earth (1970) by C C MacApp, "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" by James Tiptree Jr (in Aurora: Beyond Equality, anth 1976, ed Vonda McIntyre and Susan J Anderson; 1989 chap dos), Preveval (1980) by Kir Bulychev, Damnation Alley (1969) by Roger Zelazny, Witch World (1963) by Andre Norton, The Stars My Destination (1953) by Alfred Bester, A Princess of Mars (1917) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The City and the Stars (1956) by Arthur C Clarke, "The Merchants of Venus" (July/August 1972 If) by Frederik Pohl. Telepathist (1964) by John Brunner, The Land of Laughs (1980) by Jonathan Carroll, and numerous others.
In addition Fantastyka serialized an original Space Opera comic, Funky Koval, written by its editorial staff members Maciej Parowski and Jacke Rodek, drawn by an established comic artist, Bogusław Polch. The adventures of the eponymous space detective and security agent, lieutenant Funky Koval, became a cult classic in Poland. Not only did they offer an attractive future setting presented in detail by Polch, strong characters based on real people (including Lech Jęczmyk, Parowski, and Rodek themselves), and action, but also some allusions to the political situation of the time. The magazine also presented the work of major graphic artists in the field such as Chris Achilleos and Chris Foss.
As early as in its debut issue Fantastyka announced its first literary contest for a short story, yet it was its second, announced in March 1985, that turned out to be a real breakthrough as two major writers of contemporary Polish sf and fantasy were among its winners, namely Marek S Huberath and Andrzej Sapkowski respectively. Throughout the 1980s the magazine was the most preferred debut venue by those who wished to enter the field of genre literature, particularly sf, later fantasy.
In 1990 the magazine underwent serious alterations. It found a new publisher and in order to celebrate freedom from communism as well as mark a kind of caesura from the past its title was changed to Nowa Fantastyka along with its logo. In the middle of 1990 Lech Jęczmyk took over as its editor-in-chief, and after him, in 1992, Maciej Parowski, who remained on the position for eleven years, untill 2003. Since then the magazine's editors, like football coaches, have been changed more frequently. Initially, in the early 1990s, its original formula was not much diluted; more glossy pages were added and more space was given to film reviews and articles not directly connected with literature, but later during the decade Nowa Fantastyka ceased to be a strictly literary magazine, gaining the character of a publication for those generally interested in the field of the fantastic as well as popular science and culture. Perhaps to make up for this disappointing departure from its original model in 2003 its sister publication was launched, a quarterly titled Fantastyka Wydanie Specjalne ["Fantastyka Special Edition"], containing exclusively fiction at all lengths.
In October 2007, on the magazine's twenty-fifth anniversary, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage awarded it – along with some of its editors and contributors – the Gloria Artis medal, given to both individuals and organizations for contribution to and preservation of Polish culture. [KW]
see also: Poland; SF Magazines.
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 06:07 am on 3 October 2022.