Asimov's Science Fiction

Asimov's Science Fiction

"Asimov's Science Fiction" (ISSN 1065-2698) is an American science fiction magazine which publishes science fiction and fantasy and perpetuates the name of author and biochemist Isaac Asimov. It is currently published by Dell Magazines 10 times a year, with double issues in April/May and October/November.

"Asimov's Science Fiction" began life as the digest-sized "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" (or "IASFM" for short) in 1977. Joel Davis of Davis Publications approached Asimov to lend his name to a new science fiction magazine, after the fashion of "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" or "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine". Asimov refused to act as editor, but served instead as editorial director, writing editorials and replying to reader mail until his death in 1992.

Initially a quarterly, its first issue was dated Spring 1977. It changed to a bimonthly in 1978 and began publishing monthly in 1979. In the mid-1980s it was published once every four weeks, with an extra "mid-December" issue. Double issues were added in the early 1990s before the schedule was scaled back to the present 10 issues per year.

The magazine was sold to Bantam Doubleday Dell in January 1992, a few months before Asimov's death, and the title changed to "Asimov's Science Fiction". Its parent company, Dell Magazines, has changed hands several times since then. In 1998, the magazine's size changed; it is now taller and slightly wider than the standard digest format (matching other magazines published by its newest corporate parent).

The magazine briefly became a figure of controversy in February 2004 when WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan ran a story (later disputed by "Asimov's") alleging that it was an "adult" magazine being targeted towards children. The event subsequently became a minor cause celebre among many Internet science fiction fans.

Asimov's Science Fiction celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2007, with an anthology edited by the magazine's current editor, Sheila Williams. Drawing on stories published from 1977 to the present day, it was published by Tachyon Publications.

Circulation in 2007 was 17,581. [ [http://www.jasonsanford.com/jason/2008/02/2007-sff-magazi.html] ]

Editors

* George H. Scithers, 1977-1982
* Kathleen Moloney, 1982 [interim]
* Shawna McCarthy, 1983-1985
* Gardner Dozois, 1986-2004
* Sheila Williams, 2004-present

Scithers was an editor whose taste in science fiction was similar to Asimov's, favoring traditional stories with a strong hero in a future setting. His successors made the magazine more "literary", until under Dozois it became the most influential magazine in the field since H. L. Gold's "Galaxy Science Fiction". Many of the stories he published were set on Earth in the present day or near future, with ordinary people as protagonists.

Scithers left the magazine after five years, winning two Hugo awards as best editor, and was succeeded by Shawna McCarthy. McCarthy held the position for three years, winning one Hugo award. Gardner Dozois edited the magazine from 1985 to 2004, winning 15 Hugo awards, before stepping down and becoming its contributing editor. Sheila Williams is the current editor.

2004 controversy

The magazine briefly became a figure of controversy in February 2004 when WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan ran a story alleging that it was an "adult" magazine being targeted towards children. A mother had purchased a subscription for her 13-year old daughter via a school fundraiser and, after looking through it, decided that the content was overtly sexual. She then called "Asimov's" to complain, and also notified the local television news station, which subsequently ran a report [http://woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1645394&nav=0RclKpQF] on the 12th of that month about "Asimov's" being an adult magazine inexplicably aimed at children in the school sale, implying in the process that it was the only "adult" magazine available through the sale and that it was listed due to the negligence of those running the sale; it also stated that "since [WOOD-TV] started this investigation, QSP has permanently severed its relationship with this science fiction magazine," implying that the magazine was put on the list by mistake and was dropped by the distributor due to its adult content.

In truth, the magazine was only one of several "adult-oriented" magazines available through the sale ("Asimov's" in their [http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0403/response.shtml February 18 response] to the news report notes that "Esquire", "Vogue", "GQ" and "Elle" were also all available through the fundraiser), none of which was listed in the "Children" section in the fundraiser's catalog; "Asimov's" was "correctly listed in the catalog"," under not "Children", but rather "Science/Technology/Environmental."; this fact is not mentioned in the news report, and in fact the report states that "Asimov's" "did not know it was on the school magazine list", which "Asimov's" disputes.

In addition, "Asimov's" has stated that contrary to the news report's statement that the magazine had been dropped "since [WOOD-TV] started... [the] investigation", it had actually severed ties with the QSP company several months prior to the report: "In fact, we provided Ms. Andersen with documentation showing that our relationship with QSP ended several months earlier over remit rates (the amount of money the publisher receives from the agent for each subscription the agent sells), not as a result of this incident."

The magazine's editors further objected to its characterization in the report, stating "Reporter Kristi Andersen and the News 8 anchors portrayed Asimov’s as a pornographic magazine. They characterized it as "full of sexual content," "an adults-only magazine," and said that it "contained stories about sex, drugs, and molestation." Probably because it doesn’t fit with their one-sided characterization, they did not mention that Asimov’s is a highly respected literary magazine. Its stories have won numerous awards, including at least 40 Hugo awards and 24 Nebula awards. The magazine’s editors have received 17 Hugo awards for Best Editor...". "Asimov's" claims that they were also promised a preview of the report and notification of when it would air by Ms. Andersen, claiming that she "said that she would let us know when the story was going to run and provide us with a way to see it," and that "she never did provide this information"."

"Asimov's" wrote that "News 8 should have allowed Asimov’s Science Fiction the opportunity to respond to their characterization of our magazine, and our disappointment in their distortion of the facts is profound. In our opinion, Ms. Andersen and the News 8 channel are not practicing journalism, but sensationalism."

The event became a minor cause celebre among many Internet science fiction fans.

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.asimovs.com/ Asimov's Science Fiction] (official web site)
* [http://www.sfsite.com/columns/asimov.htm A Brief History of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine]
* [http://woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1645394&nav=0RclKpQF Wood TV 8 report]
* [http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0403/response.shtml Response to News 8] (from the magazine)


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