Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Fantastic Adventures

US pulp Magazine, 128 issues May 1939-March 1953, published by Ziff-Davis, New York, initially bimonthly, but monthly January-June 1940 and again from May 1941; ed nominally Raymond A Palmer (1910-1977) May 1939-December 1949, and Howard Browne (1908-1999) January 1950-March 1953, though William L Hamling (1921-    ) was managing editor November 1947-February 1951.

Like Fantastic, FA was launched as a fantasy companion to Amazing Stories (see SFE link below), although early issues contained much immature sf, but with a wider remit to include Lost-Race stories. Palmer was a fanatical devotee of Edgar Rice Burroughs, whom he was able to lure to FA from #2. Nevertheless, FA almost folded in 1940; it was only the reader reaction to Jongor in "Jongor of Lost Land" (October 1940) by Robert Moore Williams (1907-1977) – imitation Tarzan – that saved it. During WWII FA provided a diet of lighthearted whimsical fantasies adequately produced by Nelson S Bond, Robert Bloch, William P McGivern (1924-1982), David Wright O'Brien (1918-1944) and Leroy Yerxa (1915-1946). Series included Bloch's Lefty Feep and McGivern's Enchanted Bookshelf, in which the Three Musketeers return to life. FA was visually attractive, especially the covers by Harold McCauley (1913-1983).

After WWII, steered by Hamling, FA turned to more darkly Supernatural Fictions, still mostly written by Ziff-Davis's Chicago stable but also including stories by Ray Bradbury, August W Derleth, Geoff St Reynard (real name Robert W Krepps; 1919-1980) and Theodore Sturgeon. A brief success came with the Toffee stories, about a Dream girl, by Charles F Myers (1920-2006), beginning with "I'll Dream of You" (1947). In its final years, FA published some strong material by Lester del Rey, Fritz Leiber, Sturgeon and William Tenn (real name Philip Klass; 1920-2010). Its liberal policy allowed the introduction of new, more experimental writers, and it was in FA that John Jakes and Mack Reynolds (1917-1983) first appeared. But, with the success of Browne's slick-styled Fantastic, FA's days were numbered, and the two magazines were merged in May/June 1953.

Unsold issues of FA were rebound and published as Fantastic Adventures Quarterly (2 series: 8 issues Winter 1941-Fall 1943; 11 issues Summer 1948-Spring 1951). Two separate UK editions were published in cut form, 2 issues (undated July, September 1946) and 24 issues (undated June 1950-February 1954). No anthology has been based solely on FA, although Fantastic reprinted heavily from FA in the period 1965-1970, as did the companion reprint magazines Fantastic Adventures Yearbook (1 issue 1970), Strange Fantasy (6 issues Spring 1969-Fall 1970, though numbered #8-#13 as it continued from another reprint title, Science Fiction Classics), The Strangest Stories Ever Told (1 issue Summer 1970) and Weird Mystery (4 issues Fall 1970-Summer 1971). Hamling continued his formula from FA briefly in Imagination (63 issues October 1950-October 1958) and Imaginative Tales (26 issues September 1954-November 1958; #24-#26 retitled Space Travel), but both of these became solely sf from 1955. [MA]

further reading: The Annotated Guide to Fantastic Adventures (1985) by Edward J Gallagher (1940-    ).


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.