Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The

US digest Magazine, Fall 1949-current (534 issues to December 1995), originally quarterly, then bimonthly from February 1951, monthly from August 1952. Since 1991 the October/November issues have been combined. First published by Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Press, then bought out by General Manager Joseph W Ferman (1906-1974) in 1954; he published it until 1965; his son, Edward L Ferman (1937-    ) has published it since. Ed Anthony Boucher and J Francis McComas (1911-1978) Fall 1949-August 1954, by Boucher alone until August 1958, Robert P Mills (1920-1986) September 1958-March 1962, Avram Davidson April 1962-November 1964, Joseph W Ferman December 1964-December 1965, Edward L Ferman January 1966-June 1991, Kristine Kathryn Rusch since July 1991.

F&SF has for nearly 50 years been the primary magazine of fantasy. It began as The Magazine of Fantasy (#1 only); "Science Fiction" was introduced to the title to meet the growing post-WWII sf market. Although for a period in the late 1950s F&SF became sf-dominated, it has always sustained a varied and healthy diet of fantasy. One level – the one at which F&SF is strongest – was the cultivation of Slick Fantasy. F&SF wanted to distance itself from the image of the pulps and be acceptable to readers of The New Yorker, Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post. Boucher and McComas thus reprinted many examples from these magazines and elsewhere – including fictions by Robert Graves (1895-1985), Gerald Heard, F Tennyson Jesse (1889-1958), James Stephens, James Thurber and P G Wodehouse – and encouraged other contributors. The shining example from the early years was Shirley Jackson, and the F&SF approach attracted a high proportion of women writers, including Mildred Clingerman (1918-    ), Miriam Allen DeFord (1888-1975), Carol Emshwiller, Zenna Henderson (1917-1983), Kit Reed (1932-    ), Joanna Russ (1937-    ), Margaret St Clair (1911-    ) – whose alter ego Idris Seabright was one of Boucher's favourite contributors – and Evelyn E Smith (1927-    ). Male writers often seemed to opt for the Club Story or Tall Tale, exemplified by the Gavagan's Bar series by L Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, and including the Murchison Morks stories by Robert Arthur, the Papa Schimmelhorn tales by Reginald Bretnor (1911-1992), and later the Brigadier Ffellowes adventures by Sterling Lanier (1927-    ).

At another level F&SF could be seen as a continuation of Weird Tales, primarily in its focus on supernatural Horror and Ghost Stories. In this vein it not only inherited some of WT's writers – e.g., Ray Bradbury, August W Derleth and Manly Wade Wellman – and continued the resurrection and reprinting of stories by the older generation of supernaturalists – e.g., H Russell Wakefield and Lord Dunsany – it also rapidly developed a strong stable of its own, especially Richard Matheson, Bruce Elliott (1914-1973) and Russell Kirk (1918-1994), while more recently it has drawn upon the talents of Robert Aickman, Charles L Grant, J Michael Reaves, Michael Shea and Karl Edward Wagner.

Early in its life F&SF was able to exemplify the way ancient horrors could be modernized with Donald A Wollheim's story "The Rag Thing" (1951 as David Grinnell), though the greatest exponents of this development were Fritz Leiber and Theodore Sturgeon. Both these writers, like Boucher, had been contributors not only to WT but also to Unknown, and F&SF soon emerged as a fusion of these two great magazines; but its content was raised to the next level through the ever-deepening veneer of slick fantasy. Thus within a short time F&SF's content had created a middle ground. The magazine was not alone in doing this – much of the same development had been happening at Beyond, Fantastic and Fantasy Magazine – but it was fortunate in having the financial support and the vision of its publisher and editors in seeing this through. Its maturing was underscored in an ironic fashion when Robert Bloch's "That Hell-Bound Train" (1958) became the first Supernatural Fiction to win the Hugo Award.

From the outset Boucher banned Heroic Fantasy, singling out Robert E Howard's work in particular, and this policy was continued by Mills and Davidson. As a result F&SF's Weird Fiction throughout the 1950s was entirely in the supernatural vein, though it never stagnated and writers showed a tremendous ability to explore new themes. Among the most original was Manly Wade Wellman, who drew upon local Appalachian Legends for his John the Ballad-Singer stories and turned to Native American beliefs for his tales as Levi Crow. Later editors entertained heroic fantasy if it developed stories from legend and was treated realistically or lightheartedly. Poul Anderson made the breakthrough with Three Hearts and Three Lions (1953; rev 1961), which was also F&SF's first serial. Later Gordon R Dickson contributed "St Dragon and the George" (1957; exp vt The Dragon and the George 1976).

Boundaries were pushed back further in the 1960s under the more liberal editorship of Edward Ferman, especially with tales by Roger Zelazny, whose work imported mythic resonances into the mechanics of sf. Through F&SF Zelazny presented This Immortal (1965 as ". . . And Call Me Conrad"; exp 1966), "Dawn" (1967) and "Death and the Executioner" (1967) – the latter two being self-contained extracts from Lord of Light (1967) – and Jack of Shadows (1967). It is interesting that, once Zelazny's tales became more rooted in tradition – as with the Amber series – he became a less frequent contributor to F&SF; likewise, when Stephen King established himself in the Horror field, it was not his horror that F&SF pursued but his more mythic fantasy, the Dark Tower sequence, which began with "The Gunslinger" (1978). Although Sword and Sorcery stories began to appear in the magazine from the mid-1960s – including Jack Vance's Cugel the Clever, Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Phyllis Eisenstein's Alaric the Minstrel and John Morressy's Kedrigern stories – these were tales that tested and expanded the existing subgenre. Throughout its life F&SF has opened to writers who explored this mythic quality of fiction, examples of which are prevalent in the works of Thomas M Disch, Harlan Ellison, Philip José Farmer, Robert Holdstock (whose Mythago Wood sequence – launched with "Mythago Wood" [1981 F&SF] – is a natural extension of this development), Tanith Lee, Leiber, Richard McKenna, Walter M Miller Jr (1922-1996), Tom Reamy, Lucius Shepard and Thomas Burnett Swann.

This richness and diversity means that F&SF tends to have a wide appeal, and consequently its stories have frequently won awards. Those closer to the fantasy milieu include: "That Hell-Bound Train" (1958) by Bloch; "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth" (1965) and ". . . And Call Me Conrad" (1965) by Zelazny; "Ship of Shadows" (1969), "Ill Met in Lankhmar" (1970) and "Catch That Zeppelin" (1975) by Leiber; "The Queen of Air and Darkness" (1971) by Anderson; "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal" (1973) by Robert Aickman; "The Deathbird" (1973), "Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans . . ." (1974) and "Jeffty is Five" (1977) by Harlan Ellison; "Born With the Dead" (1974) by Robert Silverberg; "San Diego Lightfoot Sue" (1975) by Tom Reamy; "A Crowd of Shadows" (1976) by Charles L Grant; "Stone" (1978) by Edward Bryant; "The Persistence of Vision" (1978) by John Varley (1947-    ); "Cassandra" (1978) by C J Cherryh; "The Bone Flute" (1981) by Lisa Tuttle; "Souls" (1982) by Joanna Russ; "Another Orphan" (1982) and "Buffalo" (1991) by John Kessel (1950-    ); "Black Air" (1983) by Kim Stanley Robinson (1952-    ); "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight" (1987) by Ursula K Le Guin; "Kirinyaga" (1988) and "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge" (1994) by Mike Resnick (1942-    ); "Guide Dog" (1991) by Mike Conner (1951-    ); "Ma Qui" (1991) by Alan Brennert; "Graves" (1992) by Joe Haldeman (1943-    ); and "The Night We Buried Road Dog" (1993) by Jack Cady (1932-    ). F&SF itself won the Hugo for the Best Magazine in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972; when that category was dropped in favour of Best Editor, Edward L Ferman won in 1981, 1982 and 1983 and Rusch in 1994.

F&SF has published occasional celebratory issues featuring a chosen author. Those honoured have been Theodore Sturgeon (September 1962), Ray Bradbury (May 1963), Isaac Asimov (October 1966; who also contributed a science column November 1958-February 1992), Charles Beaumont (June 1967), Fritz Leiber (July 1969), Anderson (April 1971), James Blish (April 1972), Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) (September 1973), Silverberg (April 1974), Damon Knight (November 1976), Ellison (July 1977) and Stephen King (December 1990).

The magazine has been regularly mined for anthologies. The formative years were covered in a tribute volume, The Eureka Years (anth 1982) ed Annette Peltz McComas (1911-1994). Starting in 1952, Boucher and McComas edited The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1952), which continued under that title with Second Series (anth 1953) and Third Series (anth 1954); then, ed Boucher alone, Fourth Series (anth 1955), Fifth Series (anth 1956), Sixth Series (anth 1957), Seventh Series (anth 1958) and Eighth Series (anth 1959); then, ed Robert P Mills, Ninth Series (anth 1960; cut vt Flowers for Algernon and Other Stories 1960), Tenth Series (anth 1961), Eleventh Series (anth 1962), 12th Series (anth 1963), 13th Series (anth 1964), 14th Series (anth 1965); then, ed Edward L Ferman, 15th Series (anth 1966), 16th Series (anth 1967), 17th Series (anth 1968), 18th Series (anth 1969), 19th Series (anth 1971), 20th Series (anth 1973), A Special 25th Anniversary Anthology (anth 1974) – not numbered, but treated as if so – 22nd Series (anth 1977), 23rd Series (anth 1980) and 24th Series (anth 1982). Other retrospectives are: A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1960) ed Robert P Mills; Once and Future Tales from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1968) ed Edward L Ferman; Twenty Years of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1970) ed Ferman and Mills; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction: A Thirty Year Retrospective (anth 1980) ed Ferman; and The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 40th Anniversary Anthology (anth 1989) ed Ferman. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1965 (anth 1981) ed Ferman and Martin H Greenberg is an enhanced reprint of the original contents of that issue, with added articles by the contributors; this issue was selected because it was the first to be edited solo by Ferman. Of special relevance are: The Best Fantasy Stories from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1986) ed Ferman, and The Best Horror Stories from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (anth 1988; in 2 vols US 1989; vt The Best of Modern Horror 1989 UK) ed Ferman and Anne Jordan.

Selective UK editions ran October 1953-September 1954 (12 issues) and December 1959-June 1964 (55 issues). The UK Venture Science Fiction (28 issues September 1963-December 1965) also comprised reprinted material from F&SF and F&SF's former companion magazine Venture SF (2 series: 10 issues January 1957-July 1958, 6 issues May 1969-August 1970). There was a selective Australian reprint edition (14 undated issues 1954-1958), and there have been several foreign-language editions, of which the most important was the French Fiction (412 issues, October 1953-February 1990), which soon developed into a separate magazine and became the backbone of the French sf and fantasy scene (> France). [MA]

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.