In JohnJosMiller by JohnJosMiller4 Comments


By the time the mid-1940s rolled along, sf & fan had been around long enough to accumulate an impressive back list of short stories, many of which were unfamiliar to the then current crop of readers. Some of the current magazines featured reprints on a regular basis (mostly, I suspect, because they frequently purchased universal rights and didn’t have to pay authors if they reprinted their stories), but several magazines were also started to cater to the market clamoring for reprints of classic tales.

The best of these reprint zines, in my opinion, was the AVON FANTASY READER. Ably edited by Donald Wollheim, 18 issues appeared between 1947 and 1952. These were somewhat bare bones efforts in that there were no features, letter pages, or review columns. Interior art was non-existent although largely the covers were very good (as you’ll see below).

What you did get were stories — 169 in the 18 issues, or about nine and a half, on average, per issue. The cast of writers reads like a who’s who in the sf & fan hall of fame. Here’s a list of the most frequently appearing authors, with the number of their stories in the run: H. P. Lovecraft (8 — many his more obscure collaborative efforts), R. E. Howard (7), Ray Bradbury (6), Clark Ashton Smith (6), William Hope Hodgson (5), and, arguably the greatest fantasy writer ever, Lord Dunsany (5).

Wollheim did yeoman work in keeping these names still alive until a wider audience could rediscover them. If you want to sample some of the finest fantasy (and some science fiction) of the first half of the 20th century, check some out. They’re still readily available. If you search eBay diligently, you can find them for under $15. Good luck in your hunt, and enjoy the covers replicated below.

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