Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine

Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine was a British science fiction magazine which published nineteen issues between 1954 and 1956. E.C. Tubb and John Russell Fearn were regular contributors, and Kenneth Bulmer also published several stories in the magazine. Barrington Bayley's first story, "Combat's End", appeared in May 1954. The editor was initially Alistair Paterson, but after seven issues Fearn took the helm: "Vargo Statten" was one of Fearn's aliases, and the magazine's title had been chosen because of his popularity. Neither editor had enough of a budget to attract good quality submissions, and a printing strike in 1956 brought an end to the magazine's life.

Publication history and contents

In the early 1950s, British publisher Scion published dozens of science fiction (sf) novels by John Russell Fearn under the pseudonym "Vargo Statten". These were very successful, and Scion decided to take advantage of the popularity of the name by issuing a monthly sf magazine. The first issue was dated January 1964 and was edited by Alistair Paterson. The target audience included long-time fans: Scion had notified established science fiction fan groups before the launch, so there was a letter column in the first issue, and a column by Vincent Clarke, a well-known fan, covered fan news.[1] Scion's stated intention was to have at least 10% of the magazine devoted to the science fiction fan community, and also to publish only stories by British writers. Paterson's editorial policy for the fiction was aimed at younger readers, which led him to return a story by Brian Aldiss with a request for a rewrite to make it more suitable for teenaged readers. Aldiss, then right at the start of his career, refused, and never submitted a story to the magazine again.[2]

In early 1954, Scion were fined heavily for publishing a pornographic gangster novel; Scion's staff formed a new company named Squire, and refloated Scion under the name Scion Distributors, with Paterson continuing as editor; the magazine format was changed from digest to pulp with the first issue from Scion Distributors.[1][2] Squire had also acquired Scion's debts when they took over the company, and this included a large debt to the printers, Dragon Press, of Luton. Scion gave Dragon Press control of the magazine as payment for the debt, along with the novels they had rights to and their contract with Fearn. Paterson resigned and Fearn took his place, insisting when he did so that his pseudonym be removed from the magazine's title. It was renamed The British Science Fiction Magazine from the September 1954 issue. The quality of the magazine began to improve significantly, with stories by E.C. Tubb, Barrington Bayley, Ken Bulmer, and Fearn himself, but when the circulation began to fall, Dragon Press quickly cut Fearn's budget in half, from 25 shillings to only 12/6 per thousand words. This was half the going rate at other British markets of the era, and left Fearn unable to compete for the best stories.[2] Fearn printed material of his own that he had been unable to sell elsewhere,[3] and was also able to save some money by reprinting stories of his that had originally appeared in the U.S. More money was saved by changing the format to paperback size, and simplifying and standardizing the cover design. The magazine struggled on until early 1956, when a printers strike caused Dragon Press to fold. The last issue appeared in January 1956.[2]

Bibliographic details

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1954 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8
1955 1/9 1/10 1/11 1/12 2/1 2/2 2/3 2/4 2/5 2/6
1956 2/7
Issues of Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine from 1954 to 1956,
showing volume and issue number, and colour-coded to indicate the editor:
Alistair Paterson (blue), and John Russell Fearn (yellow). Note that some of

the earlier issues were not dated internally and approximate dates have been

assigned based on the contents of the magazines.[1]

The first seven issues were edited by Alistair Paterson, and the remainder by John Russell Fearn. The magazine was priced at 1/6 throughout its run. It was initially pulp-sized and 64 pages long, but changed to digest format at 128 pages with the May 1954 issue, and then to a paperback size, also at 128 pages, from the February 1955 issue onwards. The title was initially Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine; this changed to Vargo Statten British Science Fiction Magazine with the May 1954 issue, then to The British Science Fiction Magazine with the September 1954 issue, and finally to The British Space Fiction Magazine with the June 1955 issue. The publisher was Scion, Ltd. of London for the first three issues, then Scion Distributors, Ltd. of London for the next four issues, and finally Dragon Publications Ltd. of Luton for the remaining issues.[1]

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d Ashley (1985), pp. 703−705.
  2. ^ a b c d Harbottle & Holland (1992), pp. 89−90.
  3. ^ Harbottle (2001), p. 9.

References

  • Ashley, Mike (1985). "Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine". In Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 703–705. ISBN . 
  • Ashley, Mike (2005). Transformations:The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN . 
  • Harbottle, Philip; Holland, Stephen (1992). Vultures of the Void. San Bernadino CA: Borgo Press. ISBN . 
  • Harbottle, Philip (2001). "Introduction". The Best of John Russell Fearn: Volume Two: Outcasts of Eternity and Other Stories. Gillette NJ: Wildside Press. pp. 6–11. ISBN . 
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