Saturday, April 26, 2008

Aaron's Magazine of the Week :: Ten Story Fantasy, Spring 1951

Ten Story FantasyContinuing our tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, the Magazine of the Week is the first and only issue of Ten Story Fantasy, published in the Spring of 1951. The artist who drew the absurd and misogynistic cover is uncredited.

Ten Story Fantasy is what we call a one-shot, a magazine that only lasted for a single issue. The magazine died quickly despite having an accomplished editor, Donald A. Wollheim, the creator of DAW books, which continues to publish to this day. What's more, unlike most one-shots, this issue actually contains an impressive list of contributing authors, including John Wyndham (writing under the pseudonym John Beynon, apparently in no hurry to claim credit for writing the cover story "Tyrant and Slave Girl on Planet Venus"), A.E. Van Vogt, L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, C.M. Kornbluth, Lester Del Rey, and August Derleth.

But by far the magazine's greatest claim to fame is that it contains the very first appearance of the Arthur C. Clarke story "Sentinel of Eternity" (later renamed "The Sentinel"), which eventually became the basis for the film and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. While 2001 is typical of the type of science fiction for which Arthur C. Clarke is best remembered, SF with big ideas and profound speculations on the destiny of mankind, he also had a lighter side. We will complete our Clarke tribute next week with his best humorous book.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Reach for Tomorrow by Arthur C. Clarke

Reach for TomorrowContinuing our tribute to the late Arthur C. Clarke, the Book of the Week is Reach for Tomorrow, a collection of early Clarke short stories.

This is a first printing, paperback original, published in 1956. The book is notable for its very unusual cover art by legendary SF illustrator Richard Powers. The cover is horizontally, not vertically, oriented, so you have to turn the book sideways to view it correctly. For next week's BOTW, we will have the pulp magazine that contains the first appearance of the Arthur C. Clarke short story that was later expanded into 2001: A Space Odyssey. You will see that the cover of that magazine has far less artistic merit than the cover of this week's BOTW.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Aaron's Magazine of the Week :: Infinity Science Fiction November 1955

Infinity Science Fiction November 1955Continuing our tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, the Magazine of the Week is the very first issue of digest magazine Infinity Science Fiction, dated November 1955, cover art by Robert Engle. This magazine contains the first appearance of my personal favorite Arthur C. Clarke story, "The Star." It follows a Jesuit priest having a crisis of faith after studying the artifacts of an entire race of aliens wiped out when their sun went nova. "The Star" won Arthur C. Clarke the first of his three Hugo Awards (although he may have won more if the Hugos had been created a few years earlier).

Infinity, edited by Larry T. Shaw, was one of a bumper crop of digest science fiction magazines that appeared in the mid-1950's. This inaugural issue contains stories by some of the best writers of the day, including Robert Bloch, James Blish, and William Tenn. At the same time, publishers were beginning to print collections of short stories all by a single popular author. Next week's Book of the Week will be an early collection of Arthur C. Clarke short fiction, notable for the unusual orientation of the book's cover.