American science fiction magazine
Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.
As of 2018, Amazing has been published, with some interruptions, for ninety-two years, going through a half-dozen owners and many editors as it struggled to be profitable. Gernsback was forced into bankruptcy and lost control of the magazine in 1929. In 1938 it was purchased by Ziff-Davis, who hired Raymond A. Palmer as editor. Palmer made the magazine successful though it was not regarded as a quality magazine within the science fiction community. In the late 1940s Amazing presented as fact stories about the Shaver Mystery, a lurid mythos that explained accidents and disaster as the work of robots named deros, which led to dramatically increased circulation but widespread ridicule. Amazing switched to a digest size format in 1953, shortly before the end of the pulp-magazine era. It was sold to Sol Cohen's Universal Publishing Company in 1965, which filled it with reprinted stories but did not pay a reprint fee to the authors, creating a conflict with the newly formed Science Fiction Writers of America. Ted White took over as editor in 1969, eliminated the reprints and made the magazine respected again: Amazing was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award three times during his tenure in the 1970s. Several other owners attempted to create a modern incarnation of the magazine in the following decades, but publication was suspended after the March 2005 issue. A new incarnation appeared in July 2012 as an online magazine. Print publication resumed with the Fall 2018 issue.
Gernsback's initial editorial approach was to blend instruction with entertainment; he believed science fiction could educate readers. His audience rapidly showed a preference for implausible adventures, and the movement away from Gernsback's idealism accelerated when the magazine changed hands in 1929. Despite this, Gernsback had an enormous impact on the field: the creation of a specialist magazine for science fiction spawned an entire genre publishing industry. The letter columns in Amazing, where fans could make contact with each other, led to the formation of science fiction fandom, which in turn had a strong influence on the development of the field. Writers whose first story was published in the magazine include John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Howard Fast, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, and Thomas M. Disch. Overall, though, Amazing itself was rarely an influential magazine within the genre after the 1920s. Some critics have commented that by "ghettoizing" science fiction, Gernsback harmed its literary growth, but this viewpoint has been countered by the argument that science fiction needed an independent market to develop in to reach its potential.
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