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It is a thrill for Starship Sloane Publishing Company, Inc. to be bringing back the legendary science fiction magazine, Worlds of IF!
It has been an interesting journey thus far. We’re working with a surplus of enthusiasm on a shoestring budget – which can create some vivid disconnects between vision and reality. You know, I also await the invention that gives us enough time in the day to somehow accomplish everything on those to-do lists that we all have spilling about in our minds and workspaces!
A love of science fiction – the ideas, the art, and the literature – and the special place that Worlds of IF holds in that sphere is the driving inspiration behind this project.
Before going any further, allow me to introduce the team thus far. The exceptionally talented Jean-Paul L. Garnier will serve as deputy editor-in-chief. [Update! Daniel Pomarède has come on board as the science editor and Robert Silverberg as a contributing editor.] I’ll be serving as the editor-in-chief. Together, we might just pull this thing off – or it might be a crazy fiasco. Either way, we’ll have tried.
I always liked Worlds of IF’s content and style, while its cover art was very often the best on the market – and I’m a cover art fanatic. I was just about to turn five-years old when Worlds of IF was merged into Galaxy Science Fiction, its sister publication, after the December 1974 issue (it’s 175th), despite three Hugo wins and finally outselling Galaxy. Years before that, Worlds of Tomorrow had been merged into Worlds of IF, two worlds, one magazine. A certain symmetry there.
Worlds of IF was a magazine for experimentation, taking chances, and trying out new writers. That approach appeals to me and it’s what we’ll be doing – both by design and necessity.
Frederick Pohl stated that he enjoyed his editorial work at Worlds of IF more than at Galaxy and the proof was in the alien pudding as Worlds of IF overtook Galaxy, long one of the leading SF mags, with the readers. Conceptually, Worlds of IF retained more of a focus on rollicking, technology-driven science fiction – my personal preference; while Galaxy, like a good but sobering city council member, focused more on the societal aspect . . . ungh. Accurate or not, my perception of the difference between the two can best be described by quoting Raymond A. Palmer’s now classic utterance, “Gimmee bang bang.” That relentless and very little man with the world-gripping ambition hit the science-fiction nail squarely on the head! Who doesn’t like bang bang?
I will strive to be consistent in my usage of the title Worlds of IF, referring to the magazine from its origin to now, as such. But that is of course not at all accurate, as the story is far more complicated. Isn’t it always?
The magazine was founded by a publisher named James L. Quinn of the eponymous Quinn Publications and it was originally titled If: Worlds of Science Fiction (no colon). However, the title was often presented on the cover in such a manner that it seemed to read as Worlds of If: Science Fiction (again, no colon). Further to this, and I have discovered this to be true of many magazines, Worlds of IF referred to itself with a giddying inconsistency, often in the same issue, by editor, by editorial, by cover, by styling, by arrangement, by spine (remember, it was digest sized), by interior information, by masthead, by publisher, etc. Regarding the capitalization and sometimes italicization of the word-cum-title “if” – who knew that two letters could be presented in so very many ways?! Finally, one of Worlds of IF’s new owners, Universal Publishing and Distribution Corporation had had it with the titular bedevilment and officially changed the name to Worlds of If (but with no specific character stylization identified nor adhered to) in 1972. When the magazine was later revived in 1986 for one issue by the enterprising Clifford Hong (Bueller? . . . Bueller? . . .), the title was stylized like so: Worlds of iF, reflecting both the look of the last issue and the styling of the title during the 70s (though it was also referred to as Worlds of IF in the interior). Now, in a remarkably bold and possibly clarifying move for the magazine, both letters are officially capitalized, which reflects the styling of the magazine's title during the early-to-mid-60s. No one should confuse Worlds of IF with the Johnny-come-latelies, if: Inside Film Magazine and iF: International Focus Magazine.
Also, although this may just add to the confusion, it is intended to provide clarity, at least for this publisher. When our debut issue is published, it will mark the 25th year that Worlds of IF will have been in publication since 1952. March 1952 to be exact. The volume number for our first issue will reflect that total, the total number of years in publication. Meaning that it will be volume 25. A volume 24 will not appear. Hong had it at volume 23 in 1986, the December 1974 issue was volume 22, but looking back, you will see that the volume number did not necessarily reflect the numerical progression of the years in publication due to, I gather, the numbers of issues published in a given year and whatever other criteria were being used by a given publisher and editorial team. As such, the volume number jumps about, staying the same from one year into the next in some cases then changing midyear then resuming a chronological count consistent with the year in the next, then, well, somewhere along the line, a volume year vanished. The one constant is the issue number. Number 175 for the final issue of Worlds of IF before the merge into Galaxy. Number 176 for Hong’s excellent revival. And number 177 for us.
Next on the list: In what forms will we publish this magazine? Initially, online as a PDF. Ebook and print copies will be made available. Paying for another, fancier online magazine platform can come later. As much as I love the webzine format that Starship Sloane Publishing has used on the homesite for its various publications, that won’t be the approach for this new magazine. However, we will be presenting free webzine reissues of the original magazine on the Starship Sloane Publishing website! When those become available, they will be announced on this site, with a link provided. It's exciting to see the classics revitalized in an easy to read and dynamic webzine format.
The debut issue will be free. A gift from us to the world of science fiction. What will the magazine cost later? Maybe nothing if we can round up enough advertising. Will we do paywalls and passcodes and special access paid content and so forth? Not if, like any good highwaymen, we can apprehend enough stagecoaches of advertising gold (but never will we offend our readers with vulgar or intrusive advertising). Advertising rates will be forthcoming.
You may be wondering when the first issue will arrive. Good question. Lots of moving parts right now, but I can tell you with certainty that the first issue will be a very good one as we have been working diligently to procure the work of as many outrageously talented individuals as we possibly can.
What about submission guidelines and a submission portal? Those will be made available at a later date. When? Not sure yet, but probably after the first issue has been published. For a variety of reasons, we're trying to fill this first issue with invited work.
Now we come to the topic of prozine, semiprozine and amateur magazine. Everything is categorized and labeled. I don’t like labels much. But such is life. So, we are an amateur magazine publisher, just rank amateurs and we make no bones about it. There. I feel better now. The work you see is donated by those who, like us, are inspired to see this thing take off. That being said, the objective is to become a paying market, providing semipro rates after the first issue and eventually, professional rates.
Finally, a tip of the hat to Editor Hong, whose inspiring efforts brought Worlds of IF back for one mighty issue – a genuinely impressive accomplishment for which I hold the utmost respect. Mr. Hong then promptly disappeared from the industry and possibly, the planet. I have no idea where he is now or what he is doing. Internet searches in the matter are fairly bewildering. So, I would like to state here that the fans of Worlds of IF very much appreciate Mr. Hong’s issue of the magazine, #176.
I guess that’ll do it for the moment. This gives you some idea of what we’re up to. Please stay tuned!
Justin T. O’Conor Sloane, editor
16 June 2023
A complimentary PDF copy of the debut issue of Worlds of IF magazine will be made available here for your online reading enjoyment.