Note: Revised November 30, 2015
Many science fiction fans already know about the plans to revive the 1980s TV anthology series, “Amazing Stories”, announced late last month. What fans may not know is this: current “Amazing Stories” trademark owner Steve Davidson plans to relaunch the series in its original format–the print magazine!
Said to have been the first science fiction magazine, “Amazing Stories” was launched in 1926 by editor and publisher Hugo Gernsback who has been recognized as one of the fathers of science fiction. It helped start the pulp fiction boom that ran from the 1920s through the 1950s. According to the New Hampshire newspaper, the “Concord Monitor”, the “Amazing Stories” “print magazine died in the 1980s and never came back to life. . .”
Ironically, during the same decade “Amazing Stories” ceased publication, its television adaptation was born. Although produced by Steven Spielberg, it featured relatively few episodes that fell under the sci fi genre. Most of the stories were supernatural fantasy. Many, regardless of genre, were campy and overly comical. Most of the few sci fi episodes were very loosely based on scientific events. For example, an episode that involved a young Alamo soldier who traveled forward in time to the present day indicated very little about the science of time travel (season one, episode three). In fact, it didn’t even suggest supernatural explanations for the time transportation.
But Davidson says that the science fiction crowd may be disappointed with the new TV series (which he says he has no control over) over more than just poorly portrayed scientific phenomena. He says they may also be disappointed with the use of worn-out plots. The original TV series often used these, even though that shouldn’t have been too surprising since the show was based on the early pulp magazine. Examples of these plots are stories of victims possessed by the spirits of dead people whose apparel they wear (e.g. season one, episode 21“Hell Toupee” and season two, episode one “The Wedding Ring”) and one about an ordinary man who is given extraordinary intelligence by aliens (season one, episode 23). Yet he is hopeful and believes that the new series can satisfy both the hardcore science fiction community as well as a general audience.
Regardless of the quality of storytelling in the TV series, Davidson plans to revive the print magazine. A few years ago, he purchased the “Amazing Stories” trademark to prevent it from being used for non-science-fictional ends, becoming a savior of the publication. In 2012, he launched a non-profit, online version of the magazine. Because it is non-profit it is a free publication and so its writers volunteer their talents. Davidson told the “Monitor” that he hopes to use the licensing fees he would receive from the producers of the new TV show to pay the magazine’s writers and relaunch both its print and online version as a paid publication.