SCIENCE FANTASY


SCIENCE FANTASY
   1) In the TERMINOLOGY of sf readers, and more especially publishers, this term has never been clearly defined, although it was the title of a well known UK magazine 1950-66 (2), which was also the period when the term was most in general use. More recently it has been partially superseded by the terms SWORD AND SORCERY and HEROIC FANTASY, but it differs from these two categories in that Science Fantasy does not necessarily contain MAGIC, GODS AND DEMONS, HEROES, MYTHOLOGY or SUPERNATURAL CREATURES, though thesemay be present, often in a quasirationalized form. Science Fantasy is normally considered a bastard genre blending elements of sf and fantasy; it is usually colourful and often bizarre, sometimes with elements of HORROR although never centrally in the horror genre. Certain sf themes areespecially common in Science Fantasy - ALTERNATE WORLDS, other DIMENSIONS, ESP, MONSTERS, PARALLEL WORLDS, PSI POWERS and SUPERMEN - but no singleone of these ingredients is essential. Many Science Fantasies are also PLANETARY ROMANCES (many of the books so described in this volume can beregarded as Science Fantasy). A good discussion of the term, which very nearly builds to a definition through the accretion of examples, is "Science Fantasy" by Brian Attebery in Dictionary of Literary Biography:Volume Eight: Twentieth-Century American Science-Fiction Writers: Part 2: M-Z (1981) ed David Cowart and Thomas L. Wymer. Attebery cites the following as among the more important US authors of Science Fantasy: Marion Zimmer BRADLEY, Edgar Rice BURROUGHS, L. Sprague DE CAMP andFletcher PRATT, Samuel R. DELANY, Anne MCCAFFREY, Andre NORTON, Jack VANCE, John VARLEY, Roger ZELAZNY and Gene WOLFE (indeed, in the 1980s Wolfe practically resuscitated the genre single-handedly), to which list should certainly be added Joan D. VINGE and (especially the former) C.L. MOORE and Henry KUTTNER. Attebery also makes special mention of The Deep(1975) by John CROWLEY.
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   2) UK DIGEST-size magazine published from Summer 1950 by Nova Publications as a companion to NEW WORLDS, subsequently taken over by Roberts \& Vinter in June/July 1964, thereafter in a paperback-size format. 81 issues appeared as SF Summer 1950-Feb 1966, and 12 more Mar 1966-Feb 1967 as Impulse (Mar-July 1966) and SF Impulse (Aug 1966-Feb 1967). \#1 and \#2 were ed Walter GILLINGS; John CARNELL thentook over until Nova folded. The Roberts \& Vinter version was ed until Sep 1966 Kyril Bonfiglioli; the last 5 issues were ed Harry HARRISON and KeithROBERTS.SF was numbered consecutively from \#1 to \#81 (Feb 1966). Numeration was begun again with the title change to Impulse, in Mar 1966, with 1 vol of 12 numbered issues (hence Impulse is sometimes regarded as a separate magazine). Early on SF appeared irregularly, with only 6 issues 1950-53, but from Mar 1954 an uneasy bimonthly schedule began, lapsing toquarterly every now and then, improving in the late 1950s. A regular monthly schedule ran from Mar 1965 to the end.SF used offbeat FANTASY together with some sf not too different from that published in its companion, NW (but only rarely the kind of whimsical story associated with the US UNKNOWN). While Carnell was editing both, SF tended to use stories of greater length than NW, including numerous novellas. Many of its lead stories were supplied by John BRUNNER, Kenneth BULMER and Michael MOORCOCK, all of whom published some of their best early work in itspages. SF also published the first stories of Brian W. ALDISS and J.G. BALLARD, and part of Aldiss's first sf novel, Non-Stop (1956; exp 1958;rev vt Starship US 1959) and virtually all the important early work of Thomas Burnett SWANN. After Bonfiglioli became editor in 1964, KeithROBERTS, Christopher PRIEST, Josephine SAXTON and Brian STABLEFORD all made their debuts in the magazine, and the early Impulse issues featured Keith Roberts's Pavane stories (Mar-July 1966; fixup 1968). DuringCarnell's incumbency SF published material of a higher quality than its companion, but after its sale in 1964 - despite Bonfiglioli and his editorial successors buying some good material - it was overshadowed by Moorcock's NW, with which it ultimately merged. NW and SF were the best sfmagazines published in the UK before INTERZONE joined them in this category.The cover art of SF was intermittently of a high standard, especially that by Brian LEWIS, who did most of the covers 1958-61, and Keith Roberts, who did nearly all the covers from 1965 until the end.Roberts's bold semi-abstractions were quite outside the conventions of genre-sf ILLUSTRATION, and Lewis's surreal landscapes, reminiscent of the work of Max Ernst (1891-1976), were also unusual.
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   3) Variant title of SCIENCE FANTASY YEARBOOK.
   See also: FANTASY REVIEW.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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