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What is Analog?

Astounding/Analog (often all-encompassingly just called ASF) is often considered the magazine where science fiction grew up. When editor John W. Campbell took over in 1938, he brought to Astounding an unprecedented insistence on placing equal emphasis on both words of "science fiction." No longer satisfied with gadgetry and action per se, Campbell demanded that his writers try to think out how science and technology might really develop in the future-and, most importantly, how those changes would affect the lives of human beings. The new sophistication soon made Astounding the undisputed leader in the field, and Campbell began to think the old title was too "sensational" to reflect what the magazine was actually doing. He chose "Analog" in part because he thought of each story as an "analog simulation" of a possible future, and in part because of the close analogy he saw between the imagined science in the stories he was publishing and the real science being done in laboratories around the world.

Real science and technology have always been important in ASF, not only as the foundation of its fiction, but as the subject of articles about real research with big implications for the future. One story published during World War II described an atomic bomb so accurately-before Hiroshima-that FBI agents visited John Campbell to find out where the leak was. (There was no leak-just attentive, forward-thinking writers!) More recently, many readers first encountered the startling potentials of nanotechnology in these pages, in both fact articles (including one by nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler) and fiction.

The pages of Astounding/Analog have been home to many of science fiction's foremost writers and stories. Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Spider Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael F. Flynn are just a few of the prominent names which have often appeared here, and we have a long tradition of discovering and cultivating new talent. Two recent winners of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (yes, that's our John W. Campbell!), Julia Ecklar and Michael A. Burstein, first came to prominence here. Our stories have also won many Hugo and Nebula Awards, and such classics as Frank Herbert's Dune and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight first appeared in Analog. And our stories are not "just words"; they're often illustrated by some of science fiction's finest artists, such as Kelly Freas, Vincent di Fate, Bob Eggleton, and Jim Burns.

Some people who haven't read Analog assume it has a much narrower emphasis on "nuts and bolts" than it actually has. It's true that we care very much about making our speculations plausible, because we think there's something extra special about stories that are not only fantastic, but might actually happen. But it's just as true that we're very concerned about people (Earthly or otherwise) and how future changes will affect the way they live. If you haven't tried Analog, we hope you will. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised by each issue's mix of fascinating stories about real people in potentially real futures (some terrifying, some exhilarating, some both), fact articles and columns about real trends in science and society, reviews of new books, and an ongoing dialog with our readers in the letter column. Editor Stanley Schmidt, who is both a physicist and a science fiction writer, sees to it that the underlying philosophy remains the same: solidly entertaining stories exploring solidly thought-out speculative ideas. But the ideas, and consequently the stories, are always new.

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