I was in my local second-hand bookshop the other day, and as soon as I walked in the door I saw a pile of science fiction magazines. Most were Analog issues from around five years ago, but there were also three magazines that were much, much older.
I am now the proud owner of Future Science Fiction, June 1958 issue, and two issues called just Science Fiction Stories from March 1956 and March 1955. The March 1955 issue of Science Fiction Stories is now the oldest book I own. I know nothing about these magazines, but I still had to get them. There are some familiar names on covers. Isaac Asimov has contributed an essay in one issue, and the cover story for one issue is a short story called The Spaceman’s Van Gogh by Clifford D. Simak, an author I’ve been meaning to try. Finding the time to actually read thee magazines is going to be a challenge though. Due to their age and fragility, I don’t want to take them to work with me, and my kitten Knight is eager to stick his nose into everything I do, including reading. But even if it takes me years to read these issues, having them on my shelf still satisfies my urge to collect.
As usual with old magazines, I find myself fascinated by the ads. The ad for the book club and it’s featured book on the back of the June 1958 Future Science Fiction issue was really interesting. It was selling the book Satellite! By Erik Bergaust and William Beller, a book about the U.S plans to launch the American answer to Sputnik. The blurb ends saying the book discusses the possibility of manned flights to the moon. Looking back at these ads from 2019, it’s hard to imagine living just before the start of the space age. But even at the time this magazine came out, the ad was dated. This ad ran in June 1958. The first American satellite, Explorer I, was launched January of that year. It’s a reminder just how fast technology was moving back then.
Also, the book cost 10c for bookclub members. I know inflation is a thing and 10c back then was a lot, but I can’t wrap my head around 10c for a book.
I’ve always been interested in history, and I think I enjoy these old magazines for that reason as much as the stories.