Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2007, it is the longest continually published magazine of that genre. Initially published in 1930 in the United States as Astounding Stories as a pulp magazine, it has undergone several name changes, primarily to Astounding Science-Fiction in 1938, and Analog Science Fact & Fiction in 1960. In November 1992, its logo changed to use the term "Fiction and Fact" rather than "Fact & Fiction".

One of the major publications of what fans and historians call the Golden Age of Science Fiction and afterward, it has published much-reprinted work by such major SF authors as E.E. Smith, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt, Lester del Rey, and many others.

Publishing history

In 1926, Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories, the first science fiction magazine. Gernsback had been printing scientific fiction stories for some time in his hobbyist magazines, such as Modern Electrics and Electrical Experimenter, but decided that there was enough interest in the genre to justify a monthly magazine. Amazing was very successful, quickly reaching a circulation of over 100,000. William Clayton, a successful and well-respected publisher of several pulp titles, considered starting a competitive title in 1928: according to Harold Hersey, one of his editors at the time, Hersey had "discussed plans with Clayton to launch a pseudo-science fantasy sheet". Clayton was unconvinced. The following year, however, Clayton decided to launch a new magazine, mainly because the sheet on which the color covers of his magazines were printed had a space for one more cover. He suggested to Harry Bates, a newly hired editor, that they start a magazine of period adventure stories. Bates proposed instead a science fiction pulp, to be titled Astounding Stories of Super Science, and Clayton agreed.

The early years

Astounding was initially published by Publisher's Fiscal Corporation, which later became Clayton Magazines. The first issue appeared in January 1930, with Bates as editor. Bates aimed for straightforward action-adventure stories, with scientific elements only present to provide minimal plausibility. Clayton paid much better rates than Amazing and Wonder Stories—two cents a word on acceptance, rather than half a cent a word, on publication (or sometimes later)—and consequently Astounding attracted some of the better-known pulp writers, such as Murray Leinster, Victor Rousseau, and Jack Williamson. In February 1931, the original name Astounding Stories of Super-Science was shortened to Astounding Stories.

The magazine was profitable, but the Depression caused Clayton problems. Normally a publisher would pay a printer three months in arrears, but when a credit squeeze began in May 1931, it led to pressure to reduce this delay. The financial difficulties led Clayton to start alternating the publication of his magazines, and he switched Astounding to a bimonthly schedule with the June 1932 issue. Some printers bought the magazines which were indebted to them: Clayton decided to buy his printer to prevent this from happening. This proved a disastrous move. Clayton did not have the money to complete the transaction, and in October 1932 Clayton decided to cease publication of Astounding, with the expectation that the January 1933 issue would be the last one. As it turned out, there were enough stories in inventory, and enough paper, to publish one further issue, so the last Clayton Astounding was dated March 1933. In April Clayton went bankrupt, and sold his magazine titles; the buyer quickly resold the titles to Street & Smith, a well-established publisher.

Street & Smith possessed two pulp titles that occasionally ventured into science fiction: The Shadow, which had begun in 1931 and was tremendously successful, with a circulation over 300,000; and Doc Savage, which had been launched in March 1933. They gave the post of editor of Astounding to F. Orlin Tremaine, an experienced editor who had been working for Clayton as the editor of Clues, and who had come to Street & Smith as part of the transfer of titles after Clayton's bankruptcy. Desmond Hall, who had also come from Clayton, was made assistant editor; because Tremaine was editor of Clue and Top-Notch, as well as Astounding, Hall did a lot of the editorial work, though Tremaine retained final control over the contents. The first Street & Smith issue was dated October 1933; it was not until the third issue, in December 1933, that the editorial team was named on the masthead. Street & Smith had an excellent distribution network, and they were able to get Astounding's circulation up to an estimated 50,000 by the middle of 1934. The two main rival science fiction magazines of the day, Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories, each had a circulation of about half that. Astounding was the leading science fiction magazine by the end of 1934; and it was also the largest, at 160 pages, and the cheapest, at 20 cents. Street & Smith's rates of one cent per word (sometimes more) on acceptance were not as good as the rates paid by Bates for the Clayton Astounding, but they were still better than those of the other magazines.

Hall left Astounding in 1934 to become editor of Street & Smith's new slick magazine, Mademoiselle, and was replaced by R.V. Happel. Tremaine remained in control of story selection. Writer Frank Gruber described Tremaine's editorial selection process in his book, The Pulp Jungle:

As the stories came in Tremaine piled them up on a stack. All the stories intended for Clues in this pile, all those for Astounding in that stack. Two days before press time of each magazine, Tremaine would start reading. He would start at the top of the pile and read stories until he had found enough to fill the issue. Now, to be perfectly fair, Tremaine would take the stack of remaining stories and turn it upside down, so next month he would start with the stories that had been on the bottom this month.

Gruber pointed out that stories in the middle might go many months before Tremaine read them; the result was erratic response times which sometimes stretched to over eighteen months.

Campbell's editorship

Tremaine was promoted to assistant editorial director in 1937. His replacement as editor of Astounding (though not of Clues) was John W. Campbell, Jr.. Campbell had made his name in the early 1930s as a writer, publishing space opera under his own name, and more thoughtful stories under the pseudonym "Don A. Stuart". He started working for Street & Smith in October 1937, so his first editorial influence appeared in the issue dated December 1937. The March 1938 issue was the first that was fully his responsibility. In early 1938, Street & Smith abandoned its policy of having editors-in-chief, with the result that Tremaine was made redundant. He left on May 1, 1938, reducing Street & Smith's oversight of Campbell and giving him a freer rein.

One of Campbell's first acts was to change the title from Astounding Stories to Astounding Science-Fiction with the March 1938 issue. Campbell editorial policy was targeted at the more mature readers of science fiction, and he felt that "Astounding Stories" did not convey the right image. He intended to subsequently drop the "Astounding" part of the title as well, leaving the magazine titled Science Fiction, but in 1939 a new magazine with that title appeared. "Astounding" was retained, though thereafter it was often printed in a color that made it much less visible than the "Science-Fiction" part of the title. At the start of 1942 the price was increased, for the first time, to 25 cents; the magazine simultaneously switched to the larger bedsheet format, but this did not last. Astounding returned to pulp-size in mid 1943 for six issues, and then became the first science fiction magazine to switch to digest size in November 1943, increasing the number of pages to maintain the same total wordcount. The price remained at 25 cents through these changes in format.

The price increased again, to 35 cents, in August 1951. In the late 1950s it became apparent to Street & Smith that they were going to have to raise prices again. During 1959, Astounding was priced at 50 cents in some areas to find out what the impact would be on circulation. The results were apparently satisfactory, and the price was raised with the November 1959 issue. The following year Campbell finally achieved his goal of getting rid of the word "Astounding" in the magazine's title, changing it to Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction. The change began with the February 1960 issue, and was complete by October; for several issues both "Analog" and "Astounding" could be seen on the cover, with "Analog" becoming bolder and "Astounding" fading with each issue.

Condé Nast bought Street & Smith in August 1959, though the change was not reflected in Analog's masthead until February 1962. Analog was the only digest-sized magazine in Condé Nast's inventory—all the others were slicks, such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. All the advertisers in these magazines had plates made up to take advantage of this size, and Condé Nast changed Analog to the larger size from the March 1963 issue in order to conform. The front and back signatures were changed to glossy paper, to carry both advertisements and scientific features. The change did not attract advertising support, however, and from the April 1965 issue Analog reverted to digest size once again. Circulation, which had been increasing before the change, was not harmed, and in fact continued to increase while Analog was in slick format.

After Campbell

Campbell died in July 1971, and was replaced by Ben Bova; the first issue that credited Bova as editor was January 1972. Bova stayed for six years, and was replaced in December 1978 by Stanley Schmidt. In 1980 Condé Nast sold Analog to Davis Publications. The schedule was changed in 1981 to every four weeks, rather than monthly, so that there were thirteen issues a year, rather than twelve. Circulation dropped during the 1970s and 1980s, as newsstand sales fell away while subscriptions did not grow enough to compensate. In 1980 the overall circulation of 104,000 included 45,000 newsstand sales; in 1990 the total of 83,000 included only 15,000 sales from newsstands.

In 1996 Analog returned to a monthly schedule, and the following year reduced the schedule again, to eleven issues, combining July and August into a single issue. Starting in 2004, the number of issues was cut again, to ten, with January and February also being combined into one issue.

Contents and reception

The first incarnation of Astounding was an adventure-oriented magazine, with no interest in education through science. The covers were all painted by Wesso and similarly action-filled; the first issue showed a giant beetle attacking a man. The quality of the fiction was very low, and Bates would not accept any experimental stories, relying mostly on formulaic plots. In the eyes of Mike Ashley, a science fiction historian, Bates was "destroying the ideals of science fiction". One historically important story that almost appeared in Astounding was E.E. Smith's Triplanetary, which Bates would have published had Astounding not folded in early 1933. However, the cover Wesso had painted for the story appeared on the March 1933 issue, the last to be published by Clayton.

Under Tremaine's control, Astounding became a much more serious publication than its previous incarnation. Tremaine introduced the concept of the 'thought variant' story, encouraging authors to come up with genuinely new science fiction ideas rather than recycling the old adventure plots. Stories in the Tremaine Astounding include "Old Faithful" by Raymond Z. Gallun, "Parasite Planet" and "The Lotus Eaters" by Stanley G. Weinbaum, "Sidewise in Time" and "Proxima Centauri" by Murray Leinster, and "Minus Planet" by John D. Clark. In 1934, Astounding became one of the first fiction magazines to print a major work of non-fiction, in the form of Charles Fort's Lo!, which was serialized in eight parts between April and November (this was not the first appearance of Lo!, which had been published in book form three years earlier). By the time Tremaine relinquished editorship in 1937 Astounding had gained a reputation in science fiction fandom as the leading magazine of its time.

The Golden Age

Following eight years of publication under two editors, John W. Campbell took over from the October 1937 issue. The period of Campbell's editorship between the late 1930s and late 1940s is often referred to as "the golden age of Astounding", or even the "Golden Age of Science Fiction".

Campbell brought an unprecedented insistence on placing equal emphasis on both words of "science fiction." No longer satisfied with gadgetry and action alone, Campbell demanded that his writers think out how science and technology might really develop in the future—and, most important, how those changes would affect the lives of human beings. This new sophistication soon made Astounding the undisputed leader in the field.

Perhaps Campbell's most important achievement during the 1940s was to nurture the careers of a number of young and often previously unpublished writers by offering copious amounts of feedback and encouragement, even if accompanied by a rejection slip. Among Campbell's most important "discoveries" of this period were Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon and A. E. van Vogt.

Campbell revealed a sly sense of humor in the November 1949 issue. He had always encouraged literary criticism by Astounding's readership, and in the November 1948 issue he published a letter to the editor by a reader named Richard A. Hoen that contained a detailed ranking of the contents of an issue one year in the future. Campbell went along with the joke and contracted stories from most of the authors mentioned in the letter that would follow the fan's imaginary story titles. One of the best-known stories from that issue is "Gulf", by Robert A. Heinlein. Other stories and articles were written by a number of the most famous authors of the time: Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, Lester del Rey, A. E. van Vogt, L. Sprague de Camp, and the astronomer R. S. Richardson.

In a minor change, in the November issue of 1946 the name of the magazine was changed from Astounding Science-Fiction to Astounding SCIENCE FICTION, with the hyphen missing and the last two words in large block letters. It would retain this logo until January, 1953.

Transitional years

Campbell continued at the helm of Astounding throughout the 1950s, but the magazine's style and reputation altered somewhat during this period. Part of this was due to the emergence of Astounding's first serious competitors like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction, and the boom in paperback originals, which meant that Astounding was no longer the only place to find top-quality science fiction. A second reason was Campbell's increasing interest in what can be described as fringe science, in particular psionics and antigravity-type devices such as the Dean drive. However, this reflected a shift in subject matter rather than quality, and such topics were always dealt with in a serious and rational way.

Many historically important stories and articles continued to appear in the pages of Astounding during the 1950s. Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" - sometimes listed as one of the top dozen or so best science fiction short stories - was published in the August 1954 issue. It generated more response mail than any story the magazine had ever printed. Writer L. Ron Hubbard published the first article on his Dianetics concepts, which would soon expand into Scientology, in the magazine in May 1950.

Birth of Analog

Throughout his editorship of Astounding, Campbell felt the title of the magazine was too "sensational" or "juvenile" to reflect what it was actually doing. He addressed this as far back as 1946 by de-emphasizing the word "Astounding", printing it in narrow script above the bold words "SCIENCE FICTION". However, this was not enough, and he renamed the magazine Analog in 1960. Over the course of eight issues, from February to September 1960, the title logo was changed; the large initial "A" stayed the same while the letters "stounding" were faded down and the letters "nalog" faded up on top of them. Bibliographers often abbreviate the magazine as ASF, which can of course stand for either title. The word "and" was sometimes replaced in the logo by a pseudo-mathematical symbol comprising a horizontal right-pointing arrow piercing an inverted U-shape. The symbol, apparently invented by Campbell, was said to mean "analogous to."

Ben Bova's Analog

After Campbell died suddenly in 1971, Ben Bova took over as editor starting with the January 1972 issue. He remained in this capacity until November 1978. He won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor for 5 consecutive years, 1973 through 1978. (The award did not exist before 1973.)

21st century

Bova was succeeded as editor by Stanley Schmidt at the end of 1978. Continuing as editor as of 2008, Schmidt has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor for 26 consecutive years, 1980 through 2006, without winning. Through his tenure, Analog has been the best-selling English-language SF magazine in the world.

Analog frequently publishes new authors, including then-newcomers such as Orson Scott Card and Joe Haldeman in the 1970s, Harry Turtledove, Timothy Zahn, Greg Bear and Joseph H. Delaney in the 1980s, and Paul Levinson and Michael A. Burstein in the 1990s.

Each year, Analog conducts a readers' poll—called the Analytical Laboratory, or AnLab—to determine the favorite stories, articles and cover art published in the magazine in the previous year. Many recipients of the AnLab Award have gone on to receive the Hugo Award.

British reprint editions

From August 1939 until August 1963, the version of ASF that was sold in the United Kingdom was quite different from the American original. These "British Reprint Editions", as they were known, were published by the Atlas Publishing and Distributing Company under license from Street and Smith. The material in the British editions was a subset of the original magazine contents, in the sense that there was nothing in the British edition that had not previously appeared in the U.S. version, but that parts of the original contents were quite often omitted from the British version. This was particularly true up to October 1953, when the British edition was much slimmer than its American counterpart. For this reason the serials, editorials, factual articles and letter columns that were often the most appealing features of the American version were denied to British readers.

The material appearing in the British reprint was usually taken from the American issue dated three or four months earlier. However, this was never systematic, and cross-reference between U.S. and British editions is a complicated process. A further anomaly occurs because the covers of the British editions were almost always redrawn from the corresponding American edition, possibly for copyright reasons. At first sight the covers often look the same, but closer inspection reveals subtle differences.

Like the American original, the British Reprint Edition underwent a gradual change of title from Astounding to Analog. However, due to the lag in contents and cover image, this process was completed a few months later - the first issue completely devoid of the Astounding logo was February 1961 rather than October 1960. The final British Reprint Edition of Analog appeared as the August 1963 issue with an announcement on the inside front cover that "... after 24 years of publication the British Edition ... ceases with this issue"; after this time the American version published by Condé Nast Publications was imported directly into the UK.


Analog's circulation has fallen from a high of about 115,000 per month in 1983, to 28,319 in 2006.


The magazine is known for focusing on the science and technology aspect of science fiction. Author George R.R. Martin described Analog as having "the reputation of being hard-nosed, steel-clad, scientifically rigorous, and perhaps a bit puritanical".




  • Ackerman, Forrest J (1997). Forrest J Ackerman's World of Science Fiction. Los Angeles: RR Donnelley & Sons Company. ISBN 1-57544-069-5.
  • Ashley, Mike (2000). The Time Machines:The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the beginning to 1950. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
  • Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc..
  • Hersey, Harold (1937). Pulpwood Editor. New York: F.A. Stokes.

External links

Search another word or see Analog Science Fiction/Science Facton Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature