The Trouble with Gerrold: A loaded magazine
April 2, 2012 —
(Page 1 of 4)
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Hi. My name is David and I’m an info-holic.
I didn’t realize I had a problem. Well, no, that’s not right. I knew I was addicted to information, but I thought I could control it.
See, I thought it was because I’m a writer, and I need to do research. Ninety percent of the job is research. (The other 10% is lying awake nights planning revenge. Because all fiction is about getting even. Think about it.) The point is, I had an easy justification for my habit.
I used to read a book a day, mostly science fiction. And the magazines, every month: Astounding (which became Analog), Galaxy, If, Fantasy & Science Fiction. Then, when my interests shifted to technology, I started buying Hi-Fi and Stereo Review and Popular Photography and Cinefex. And, of course, I loved reading about real science and nature, so pretty soon I was picking up copies of Discover, Scientific American, Science, New Scientist, National Geographic, Omni, Wired, even Popular Science.
During the golden age of computer magazines, I lost control. There was Personal Computing, Recreational Computing, Compute!, Kilobaud Microcomputing, Profiles, InfoWorld, PCWorld, PC Magazine, and of course, Byte. Byte was the thickest of them all. PC Magazine could have been thicker, but they chose to publish every two weeks instead of monthly. Even so, those issues were huge.
Every month, I would go to the biggest newsstand I could find and work my way from one end of the rack to the other, piling up magazines in my arms. I could easily spend $100 or more and come home with more magazines than any normal person could read in a month.
Until about 10 years ago.
I thought I was getting my addiction under control. But it wasn’t me. It was the magazines. They started disappearing, first one, then another. I didn’t notice at first. I was still spending $60 or more on technical journals and periodicals.
The magazine industry had a great century. Cheap printing gave us pulp fiction on rag paper and eloquent commentaries on slick paper. The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Look and Life gave us weekly glimpses into the rest of the world. They fed our hunger to know. When television took over that job, starting in the 1950s, all of those zines disappeared within a decade.