Galaxy Magazine: The Dark and the Light Years

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by David L. Rosheim

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It was never an apprentice--A new magazine will usually go through a long apprenticeship, a period of trial and error as it gradually works its way up toward the top ranks in its field. But not Galaxy! From its very first issue in 1950, Galaxy Science Fiction was in the top rank, fully the equal of John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction, hitherto the undisputed leader in the science fiction field. Under the editorship of Horace Gold Galaxy was a superior production in fiction, in artwork, and even in the quality of its cover stock.

Gold ran stories by the best of the established authors, and like Campbell before him, encouraged and developed new authors. But Galaxy was not merely a superior imitation of Astounding. Gold had his own very distinctive voice. Galaxy soon became famous for stories of social satire and character insight. There were fewer of superscientific heroes and more of normal human beings, and even antiheroes. If Campbell asked how new technology would change the society, Gold asked how those social changes would affect ordinary people.

David Rosheim presents a detailed history of Galaxy from its founding in 1950 to its last issue in 1980. He covers both the triumphs (which were many) and the failures (which were few) right up to the financial and management problems which finally killed the magazine. Galaxy had both its light years and its dark years, and if the dark finally took it away from us, we still have the memory of the light.

This is a work of nostalgic affection (not pedantic scholarship) in the tradition of Alva Rogers' A Requiem for Astounding (now out of print, alas). With color frontispiece of the first Galaxy cover and many other covers in black and white (in the hardback edition, which is still available from Advent directly; the paperback has the color cover on the back; and the ebook has each of the covers in color).


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