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Sci-fi History

April 2024
1min read

Back in 1964, when I was nine years old, I remember my then fifteen-year-old brother subscribing to only two magazines. One was American Heritage, the other was Analog (which had, only a few years before, changed its name from Astounding Science Fiction ). Within a short time I found myself eagerly awaiting the arrival of each magazine, filled with that oft-written-of “sense of wonder,” both for what had been the recent American past and for what might be in the near or distant future. Thus, during the same month, I might read an article on L. Frank Baum (“The Father of the Wizard of Oz” by Daniel P. Mannix in the December 1964 issue of American’Heritage) as well as a tale about a small group of scientists fighting an alien takeover with the use of old human ghost stories and legends (the multipart saga “Sleeping Planet,” presented in Analog ).

Needless to say, I’ve come to love both American history and science fiction. Modern American science fiction has often used an actual historical event as a jumping-off point from which to speculate and ponder. The old question “What if?” applies not only to how our future could be, should certain trends continue, but also to how our past and present might have been different.

In an era of massive social upheavals that few who read or even wrote science fiction could have ever imagined (from AIDS to the “democratization” of Eastern Europe), it is both wonderful and somewhat oddly disquieting to see battling space armadas under the American Heritage logo (September/ October issue). In any case, thank you. This is certainly an issue of your magazine I won’t soon forget.

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