Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines, 1970-1980 (Liverpool University Press - Liverpool Science Fiction Texts & Studies)
by Mike Ashley
Cover Artist: Kelly Freas
Review by Sam Tomaino
Liverpool University Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1846310024
Date: 15 March, 2007 List Price $75.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Gateways to Forever – The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines, 1970-1980 by Mike Ashley is a great history of the turbulent world of the science fiction short story from 1970-1980. Ashley writes about the death of John Campbell and the changes in Analog, the death of some major magazines, the rise of the original anthology, some small press and alternative magazines, the birth of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Omni and many other fascinating topics.
Mike Ashley's Gateways to Forever – The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines, 1970-1980 is the third in a series of volumes collectively called The History of the Science Fiction Magazine. Previous volumes have covered from the beginning to 1950 and from 1950-1970, respectively. A fourth volume will take us to the present day. This is the first one I've read and, based on how wonderful Volume III is, I'll have to go back and read the first two!
I find the time period of this volume particularly interesting because this is when I began to pay attention to the science fiction magazine. One good thing is that, even though this mainly covers the years from 1970-1980, Ashley is flexible enough to tell us what has gone before (and a little of what followed) that period.
Ashley prefaces the book with a brief chronology of the major events in the genre short story field from 1970-1980. His first chapter, "Goodbye To All That: The Old Gateways" deals roughly with the time period from 1970-1977. Sections discuss the death of John W. Campbell, Ben Bova's editorship of Analog, the changes to Galaxy and Amazing, the decline of If and Fantastic, new editors like Jim Baen, the remarkable consistency and quality of F&SF and the sudden appearance and disappearance of new magazines devoted to fantasy.
The next chapter is entitled "All This And Elwood, Too: Rival Gateways" discusses the rise of the all-original anthology including Orbit, Universe, New Dimensions, Again, Dangerous Visions and others. Ashley talks about the editors like Damon Knight, Terry Carr, Robert Silverberg and the "notorious" Roger Elwood. Elwood is usually accused of killing the original anthology by flooding the market. Ashley does not parrot this view but defends Elwood against that charge with statistics to back him up. Ashley also goes into detail about what is going on in Great Britain. As he does throughout the book, Ashley also tells us something about some of the genre's new authors who rose at this time: Joe Haldemann, John Varley, Joan Vinge and others.
The third chapter, "Small But Dangerous: The Alternate Gateways", Ashley details the "little magazines" , what we would call semi-professional today. He doesn't miss anything here discussing the fiction and non-fiction journals that either appeared or continued through this decade. We get information on Richard Geis's Science Fiction Review, Leland Sapiro's Riverside Quarterly and Andrew Porter's Algol. We also learn of even smaller magazines like Perihelion, Eternity, Space and Time, Amra, The Howard Collector, Whispers and many others. British and Australian magazines are also covered. Ashley does not overlook the large size comics like Creepy, Eerie, Metal Hurlant, Heavy Metal and 2000 A.D.. Gaming magazines are covered as are magazines and anthologies in the pure fantasy and horror genres. There is a section on the academic journals and publications.
Chapter Four, "Back to the Future: The Final Gateways" details the demise of some magazines and the rise of new ones. We get a section called "The Rise and Fall of Galileo" detailing that magazines brief history. There is a sad section on the demise of Galaxy, and the brief time of Cosmos. But there is good news, too. Sections deal with the appearance and success on Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and the brief run of Asimov's SF Adventures. Stanley Schmidt's takeover of the editorial reins of Analog is discussed. There is a discussion of Elinor Mavor's editorship of Amazing and the merging with Fantastic. Ashley has a section on the media magazines like Starlog. The slick Omni has a section as does the paperback "magazine" Destinies.
Ashley concludes the main body of the book with a summary chapter, "Looking Back: The Gateways in Perspective" and furnishes appendices "Non-English-Language Science Fiction Magazines", a summary of all the magazines listing the months and years from 1970-1980, a directory of editors and publishers, a directory of cover artists and circulation figures.
The book is just chockfull of information and leaves no stone unturned. I did notice a few minor errors. The original Star Wars premiered in May of 1977 not in March. But they do not detract from the scope of this book. Everything is covered. More importantly, Ashley writes in a very engaging style. This book was a joy to read. I loved it and I can't wait for the next volume, The Eternal Chronicles!