Galaxy Science Fiction  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Galaxy Science Fiction was a digest-size science fiction magazine, the creation of noted editor H. L. Gold, who found a responsive readership when he put the emphasis on imaginative sociological explorations of science fiction rather than hardware and pulp prose.



The magazine came into being because Vera Cerutti, a previous employee of Gold's, recommended him to the Italian publisher, Edizioni Mondiale (aka World Editions), which had failed to reach an American audience with their romance magazine, Fascination. Following Cerutti's suggestion, they approached Gold for magazine concepts. When he presented the notion of a science fiction magazine with a different approach, they not only went for the idea, they offered him the position of editor.

Gold kicked off his first issue (October 1950) with a line-up of heavyweight authors. In addition to short stories by Isaac Asimov, Fredric Brown, Fritz Leiber and Richard Matheson, the contents page listed novelettes by Theodore Sturgeon (The Stars Are the Styx) and Katherine MacLean (Contagion), plus part one of a serial by Clifford D. Simak (Time Quarry). The Matheson story, "Third from the Sun," was later adapted for a memorable episode of Twilight Zone's first season. Along with an essay by Gold, Galaxy's premiere issue introduced a book review column by celebrated anthologist Groff Conklin (which ran until 1955) and a Willy Ley science column that continued until his death in 1969.

Galaxy had a partnership with NBC's X Minus One, and a number of stories from the magazine had radio adaptations.

Begun as a monthly, the magazine varied between monthly, bimonthly and eventually irregularly-issued status at different times during its 30+ year run. In 1953 a French edition, Galaxie, was launched, and in 1957, a German edition, Galaxis.

After Conklin stepped down as book reviewer, his column was continued by Floyd C. "Gale" (actually Gold, H. L. Gold's brother). (Claims that Conklin himself continued the column after 1955 appear to be in error.) In February, 1965, Pohl brought Algis Budrys on as book reviewer; he was succeeded later by Sturgeon, who passed the job to Spider Robinson in 1975.

With the January 1975 issue, Galaxy incorporated its sister magazine, Worlds of If, founded in March 1952, with which it had shared several editors after purchase from founding publisher James Quinn in the latter 1950s. In 1980, Galaxy was acquired from UPD Publishing by Boston's Avenue Victor Hugo as a companion magazine to their Galileo Science Fiction. Editor Floyd Kemske produced a single issue (July 1980) in a standard magazine format rather than a digest, but without newsstand distribution, Galaxy ceased publication that same year.

In the early 1990s the magazine was purchased by E. J. Gold, son of the founder, who published eight bi-monthly issues in 8"x11" format on pulp stock (January-February 1994 to March-April 1995). His plans to continue Galaxy online did not develop, though he maintains a scattering of Galaxy-related web pages.


Notable illustrators for the magazine during the 1950s included Chesley Bonestell, Paul Callé, Ed Emshwiller, Virgil Finlay, Dick Francis, Jack Gaughan, Don Sibley, David Stone and Wally Wood. Vaughn Bode briefly contributed a comic strip, Sunpot, during the early 1970s. Jerry Pournelle served as science columnist under Baen. In the late 1970s, the critic and erotica author Richard E. Geis wrote a fannish commentary column ("The Alien Viewpoint") which had first appeared in Baen's If.


Spanning three decades, Galaxy published acclaimed science fiction under a succession of editors:

Related publications

  • Fascination, a magazine devoted to romantic fumetti, the first major project in the USA from Galaxy's founding publisher World Editions.
  • Beyond Fantasy Fiction, a digest-size fantasy fiction magazine edited by H. L. Gold, 1953-1955. Poor sales led to a title change for its last issues to Beyond Fiction.
  • Galaxy Novels, a digest-size line of reprints (often abridged), 1950-1958. The line was sold to Beacon Books, which kept the name but changed the format to small paperback and published another 11 issues in 1959-1961.
  • Galaxy Magabooks, an early 1960s similar project.
  • Worlds of Tomorrow, starting in 1963 and incorporated into If four years later, is notable for some of its nonfiction content, including R. W. Ettinger's early articles on cryonics. The title was briefly relaunched under Jakobsson, 1970-71.
  • Worlds of Fantasy (1968), edited by Lester del Rey, by then a member of the Galaxy staff, and briefly revived under Jakobsson (1970-71).
  • International Science Fiction (1968), a short-lived attempt, edited by Pohl, to offer a wide range of international sf, including many first-time translations into English.

Anthologies compiled from the magazine include the Galaxy Reader of Science Fiction series and Galaxy: Thirty Years of Innovative Science Fiction, edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander (Playboy Press, 1980).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Galaxy Science Fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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