I don’t know when or where I first encountered The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was some time in the early 1980s, though. F&SF was one of the few science fiction or fantasy magazines you could buy on the newsstands here in Perth, Western Australia and I searched the few newsagents who carried it regularly for the latest issue. It never occurred to me to subscribe to the magazine and, even though I’ve bought every issue since January of 1987, I’ve either done so from a local newsagent or from Slow Glass Books in Melbourne.
Although it seems odd now, what got me buying F&SF initially wasn’t the great fiction. I bought it for Algis Budrys’s book reviews and for Harlan Ellison’s film reviews. I found the former fascinating and the latter hilarious. Somewhere along the way, I did read the fiction, of course. How could I not? Looking back to the May 1986 issue, then editor Ed Ferman was featuring Brad Denton, Stan Robinson, and Michael Shea in one issue, and followed it with Jim Kelly and Michael Bishop. These were the writers I wanted to be reading.
There’s no doubt that the magazine has had an enormous impact on my reading and my reading tastes over the past 25 years. As it has changed editors, moving from Ferman to Rusch to Van Gelder, it has changed and I’ve moved with it. It’s still the first fiction magazine I look for every month, still the one I’m happiest to see drop into my email inbox. And it’s more than just an old friend. I’m still discovering or rediscovering writers in its pages and, for me at least, it’s as vital as ever.
Why mention this now? Well, first of all, I would always encourage Coode Street’s readers to subscribe to the the magazine (I know, but I get it every month and this is the cheapest way to get it). The other reason is that over on the Night Shade Boards Gordon has made an offer to bloggers. Be amongst the first fifty to blog about F&SF, and he’ll send you a free copy of the July issue of the magazine. Now, me, I don’t need a copy. I buy it anyway, and he emails it to me, so I’ve seen the issue. This one has great stories by Ysabeau Wilce, Terry Bisson, Matt Hughes and (best of all) my friend and others. Go check it out, blog, get a copy, read the magazine, and support it. It’s been going since 1949, and it’s still the most contemporary magazine out there.