The history of classic science fiction (in which SF Gateway has some small interest …) is, in many ways, the history of the pulp magazines. From the beginning of the modern field, in which they were the only realistic avenue for publication, through the Golden Age as exemplified by John W. Campbell‘s influential run on Astounding Science Fiction, through to even the very recent past, when novels routinely appeared first in serialised form in Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction to name but a few.
With the likes of Astounding, Startling Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, F&SF, and later Asimov’s, all active and successful in the US, it’s easy to forget that the UK has its own proud tradition of SF magazines. And it would be wrong to do so for any number of reasons: primarily the ground-breaking, genre-defying run of New Worlds under Michael Moorcock‘s legendary editorship, and, of course, the longest-lived of the British SF magazines, Interzone, which has long been a source of short fiction to rival the best of any of the American magazines.
It is widely accepted that Interzone has launched the careers of a staggering number of now-established British SF greats. From Stephen Baxter, Nicola Griffith and Peter F. Hamilton, through Paul McAuley, Ian McDonald and Kim Newman, to Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross and Liz Williams, the ‘Interzone generation’ has dominated British SF for a generation. It’s arguable that only Campbell’s Astounding can lay claim to such a pedigree.
It would be invidious to attempt to draw out individual works for praise, but we can’t resist just one mention: in an issue of Interzone from a dozen years ago, SF Gateway’s own Ian Watson published a story called ‘Hijack Holiday‘; in it, a group of passengers on a flight to Paris think the terrorist attack mid-flight is a LARP-style piece of theatre for their entertainment, only to be proved – terminally – wrong, when the terrorists force the plane to crash into the Eiffel Tower. The cover date of that issue? April 2001. We take pains to insist that SF shouldn’t be judged as a predictive medium, but you wonder whether sometimes – sometimes – our writers are allowed a brief glimpse into the future . . .