Monday, May 30, 2011
Women editors in fantasy and sf at midcentury...
Laurie Powers has a nice bit of remembrance of Cele Goldsmith, later married to become Cele Lalli (and I didn't know for a long time that "Cele" sounded like "seal"), winner of a special award of not quite Hugo status at the 1962 World Convention (John W. Campbell, Jr., won a relatively undeserved award for the previous year, if one deserved for his career)...Laurie was under the impression that Goldsmith was one of the few editors of the fantastic-fiction magazines in her decade (essentially 1955-1965, as she passed from serving as assistant to the inept Paul Fairman into full editorship of Fantastic and Amazing in 1958, which lasted till her publishers, Ziff-Davis, sold the magazines out from under her in 1965, at which point she moved over to ZD's bridal magazines for the balance of her career). Though Laurie mistook the Goldsmith/Lalli magazines for pulps, a status Fantastic never had (despite merger with its pulp predecessor, Fantastic Adventures, in 1954) and Amazing gave up when Fantastic was founded, in 1952.
Goldsmith/Lalli was one of the great women magazine editors in fantastic fiction, but was hardly alone...in fact, there were almost more female editors of the fully-professional magazines before her than there have been since, even with Ellen Datlow's major projects and Shawna McCarthy and Kris Rusch as editor and/or former editor of two high-profile magazines each; Sheila Williams at the head of Asimov's, and such magazines as Weird Tales in its current Ann VanderMeer-edited inpulpation and Hildy Silverman's Space and Time hovering at the edge of not-little-magazine status.
Well, here's my (revised) comment at Powers's blog:
It should be noted, that Fantastic and Amazing weren't pulps any longer when Cele Goldsmith began editing them, or even when she was, as assistant editor, pulling the decent stories out of the slush pile (such as Kate Wilhelm's first story) to put in the magazines to supplement what Paul Fairman was buying without reading from reliable pros.
Amazing had gone to (initially expensively semi-slick) digest sized issues with the foundation of Fantastic in 1952, and both remained in that format till Fantastic's absorption by Amazing during Elinor Mavor's editorship in 1980, and Amazing retained it till game company TSR reformatted the magazine as a large-sized slick in the 1980s. So, they were no more pulps than Dell's Zane Grey Western was. [Laurie, the granddaughter of a prolific pulp-fiction writer, is more familiar with western fiction than with fantastic fiction, hence some correspondences cited.] One of Mavor's issues, after the merger:
Goldsmith wasn't the dominant editor of her time (frankly, in the early '60s in the magazine field, there wasn't one...but a number of excellent ones), but was one of the most eclectic, publishing relatively experimental work by the likes of Ballard, Thomas Disch, David Bunch, Ursula K. Le Guin (though Le Guin began rather conservatively), Harlan Ellison, and others alongside some old-fashioned material by E. E. Smith (the Zane Grey of sf) and others, as well as artists as important as Leiber (somewhere between the Elmer Kelton and the Walter Van Tilburg Clark of sf and fantasy)...Barry Malzberg and particularly Ted White's versions of the magazines were about as good, and as adventuresome, but didn't have the Ziff-Davis distribution might behind them and were never monthly.
Along with Wilhelm and essentially Le Guin and Roger Zelazny (who had published juvenilia elsewhere), among Goldsmith/Lalli's "discoveries" were Disch, Ben Bova, Keith Laumer, and I believe Sonya Dorman as a prose writer (like Disch, she was simultaneously a widely-published poet).
Mavor and Goldsmith/Lalli were the only female full editors of Amazing and Fantastic, but Lila aka L. E. Shaffer was doing more than her share of the work editing Fantastic Adventures (Fantastic's predecessor) and Amazing during Howard Browne's official tenure (much later editor Kim Mohan is a male Kim).
Among the other female editors in sf and fantasy pulps and digests in the 1940s into 1950s and onward, one should look into:
Dorothy McIlwraith, who did brilliant work as editor of Weird Tales for the second half of its original run (Leiber, Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, Margaret St. Clair, Ms. C. L. Moore, and Moore's husband Henry Kuttner, along with Leigh Brackett's husband Edmond Hamilton, all published some brilliant work there, and they by no means alone); McIlwraith was compelled by the publisher to sign herself as simply D. McIlwraith while simultaneously editing Short Stories magazine...
Mary Gnaedinger, long-term editor of Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels, which reprinted from the early Argosys and All-Storys, and eventually would reprint novels published in hardcover, going as far as to reprint both Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and Ayn Rand's Anthem in the last issue...(most of the reprints were better than the latter, I hasten to add, and the magazines published some important original fiction as well)...
Bea Mahaffey, who worked with Ray Palmer, who had been Ziff-Davis's first editor of Amazing and Fantastic Adventures before striking off on his own...his most durable title has turned out to be the paranormal magazine Fate, but he was still interested in publishing fiction magazines in the 1950s, and Mahaffey was editor of the best of them, Universe...notable for publishing Theodore Sturgeon's pro-gay-acceptance story "The World Well Lost" in its first issue, in 1953...
And among those in editorial support roles, Larry Shaw worked for several publishers in latter '50s on magazines, and his (first, I think) eventual life partner, Shirley Hoffman, often helped out, under the name she used in her fannish writing and eventually in her fantasy, sf, and Spur-Award-winning western writing as well, Lee Hoffman.
There're more, of course...Judith Merril didn't edit magazines, but anthologies like nearly no one else in her time (including collaborating with husband Frederik Pohl to ghost-edit Tomorrow, the Stars, officially "edited" by Robert Heinlein), for example...but, well, yup, there're still quite a few out there for you to look into.
But Cele Goldsmith/Lalli was never a pulpster...
(And it's time again tomorrow for Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V!)