If you’re among that large and growing fraction of our blog readerrs who never miss anything in the blog and never forget anything you haven’t missed, you may recall an occasional musing from me about how much fun (and also how much labor) editing Galaxy and If was. Pay was putrid, work was unending, but it was the best job I ever had, and if someone made me a comparable offer today I’d have a really hard time turning it down.

Well, no one has, but something is stirring in that general area. Lately I’ve been going over the problems involved in starting a new magazine. It would be called Super Science Stories, which is the name I christened one of the two magazines I created for the giant pulp house of Popular Publications when they gave the kid me his first editorial job.

It would use all reprints, swiping the idea from Famous Fantastic Mysteries, the magazine Mary Gnaedinger piloted for the Munsey group in the ’40s. Pulp paper. 4-color cover. 128 pages. Price somewhere around $1.95. Lettercol and, in every issue, a truculent J.W. Campbell-like editorial. Sound like fun? It does to me — with, of course, some other distinguishing traits I don’t want to talk about right now.

Retrome, Satanas!

I know I shouldn’t give it a thought, but if an offer got real, how could I say no?


  1. Jim Flanagan says:

    Count me as a subscriber. And, when I am in town as a volunteer clerk.

  2. Jack William Bell says:

    Sounds like we need a Kickstarter!

    But, why pulp paper? I say do it electronic and provide a paper omnibus edition once a year as a hardback collectors book. That way the collectors are happy and everyone else gets to read on their phones/tablets/etc.

  3. jasonmitchell says:

    this wouldn’t be too difficult to do as an app:
    – commentary and links to stories in the public domain
    – truculent editorials
    – splashy art as cover (mix of new but ‘retro’ looking art and classic period pieces)
    – sprinkling of original stories or even content from this blog
    – a few ads
    I’d subscribe for $10-12/year

  4. B. Morris Allen says:

    Sounds like a terrific plan! Except for the paper part. There’s a market, but I’m not sure how big. Maybe web-based free-with-advertising would work better.

  5. Karen Anderson says:

    I’d certainly subscribe! If this does get under way, please let the Lotts Agency know. They’re handling the Anderson estate.

  6. John C. Boland says:

    Dear Fred,

    The economics of this seem doubtful, newsstand sales difficult, demand for reprints questionable.

    My experience running a small mystery press (Perfect Crime Books) has tempted me once or twice to launch a two- or four-times a year mystery magazine to be sold as a large paperback on Amazon, B&N and so on as well as on Kindle and Nook. But it’s a daunting prospect. The positives are that you can set up a title for zero cost at CreateSpace and Amazon, but once that’s done the production cost and Amazon’s cut (which is less than a traditional distributor’s) forces a price of at least $12 on a 250-page book. If you pay even insulting prices for stories and art, it’s almost certain to lose money. And judging by our sales of $2.99 Kindle editions vs. paperbacks, genre readers are more and more ebook readers. (Who will be the next generation of pulp collectors?)

    Fred Pohl’s name as editor would make a difference for an sf title, but what would fill the magazine? No Jack Vances, no C.C. McApps, no Jack Williamsons.

    Still, I hope you get something running.

    I think I mentioned once before that I recurrently dream about walking into a newsstand (of the sort that doesn’t seem to exist anymore) and finding a rack with recent issues of IF,for some reason with a Pederson cover, and thinking “Wow, this is still going on!”

    What a nice thought.

    Best wishes.

  7. John Armstrong says:

    What vintage would the reprints be – era specific, all over the place, public domain?

  8. Rob DJ says:

    Just do it:) Life’s too short not to! If you get the stories I’ll get them distributed – the only part of the dream you will need to let go of is the pulp paper.

  9. Dan Gollub says:

    I have an idea for a truculent editorial. Marijuana reportedly (according to a U.S. government document) makes people very lazy. In the states where marijuana is legalized for personal use, professionals who provide services to the public, including healthcare and law, and who use marijuana should have to identify themselves as doing so. Would you choose a doctor who is lazy? I wouldn’t.