History of Analog Science Fiction and Fact
by Trevor Quachri
Analog/Astounding 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.” Gadgets and action were no longer sufficient; writers needed to 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 the old title began to seem too “sensational” to reflect what the magazine was actually doing. Campbell 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 between the imagined science in the stories and the real science being done in laboratories around the world.
Real science and technology have always been important in Analog, 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 the office to find out where the leak was. (There was no leak – just attentive, forward-thinking writers!)
The pages of Astounding/Analog have been home to many of science fiction’s foremost writers and stories. Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Ben Bova, David Brin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Michael F. Flynn, Robert A. Heinlein, Geoffrey Landis, George R.R. Martin, Spider Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer, Charles Sheffield, Michael Swanwick, Harry Turtledove, and Timothy Zahn are just a few of the prominent names that have appeared in our pages, and we have a long tradition of discovering and cultivating new talent. Our stories have also won many Hugo and Nebula Awards, and such classics as Asimov’s Foundation, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight first appeared in Analog.
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. No matter the era, our underlying philosophy remains the same: solidly entertaining stories exploring solidly thought-out speculative ideas. But the ideas, and consequently the stories, are always new.
Since 2008, the magazine has also been a very popular digital download available from a variety of popular vendors – see them here.