UK digest Magazine (#1-#3 large digest; pocketbook format from June/July 1964), 81 issues, Summer 1950-February 1966, quarterly until May 1954, then bimonthly to March 1965; title hyphenated for issues #1-#6; published by Nova Publications, London, until April 1964, thereafter by Roberts & Vinter, London; ed Walter Gillings (1912-1979) Summer 1950-Winter 1950/51, E J Carnell Winter 1951/52-April 64, Kyril Bonfiglioli (1928-1985) June/July 1964-February 1966.
SF began as an sf companion to New Worlds, but once both came under the editorship of Carnell it began to paint on a wider canvas and, from 1956, its content became primarily fantasy. The best exponents were John Brunner – whose stories focused on the intrusion of supernatural forces into our own Reality (> Wrongness), as in "The Kingdoms of the World" (1957) – and Kenneth Bulmer, who produced a number of Crosshatch and Secondary-World fantasies involving Thresholds – such as "The Map Country" (1961) and the Watkin's World series beginning with "The Seventh Stair" (1961 as Frank Brandon). By 1961 SF was becoming more critically acclaimed than its companion, and it was nominated in 1962, 1963 and 1964 for the Hugo Award. The December 1960 issue was a special "Weird-Story" issue. SF's peak came during 1961-1964, when it published the first Elric stories by Michael Moorcock, the mythological and historical fantasies of Thomas Burnett Swann – starting with "Where is the Bird of Fire?" in the April 1962 special "Fantasy" issue – and a number of challenging psychological fantasies by J G Ballard, whose first story SF published. SF also issued two rare short stories by Mervyn Peake and the first story by Terry Pratchett.
When the magazine changed hands in 1964 it took a while to establish a new identity; only the writings of Keith Roberts, especially his Anita series, gave it any cohesion.
After the February 1966 issue SF folded, but immediately re-emerged from the same publishers and still (briefly) under Bonfiglioli's editorship as Impulse (12 issues, March 1966-February 1967); after August 1966 it was retitled SF Impulse, with later issues ed Harry Harrison (1925-2012) and Keith Roberts. Impulse was basically a continuation of SF, but the name-change and the reversion in numbering (to start with Impulse #1) confused retailers and distributors, and the magazine lost financially. Impulse was, nevertheless, a superior magazine, the highspot being Roberts's Pavane sequence; it also published early work by Chris Boyce (1943-1999), Christopher Priest and Brian Stableford, and some wonderfully nightmarish fiction by Thomas M Disch. [MA]