Friday, January 24, 2014

"Avon Fantasy Reader" issue 10. Published by Avon Novels For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign

 Grab It Free Right Over

When I was a wee lad I stumbled upon a copy or two of these digest sized magazines and they were one of the sources for my gate way drugs into science fiction and fantasy. They make fantastic resources for sword and sorcery campaigns. This issue has some great stuff in it.

Content include the following: 
Featuring: A Witch Shall Be Born by Robert E. Howard; Bimini by Bassett Morgan (aka Grace Jones Morgan); The Statement of Randolph Carter by H. P. Lovecraft; The Mentanicals by Francis Flagg (aka George Weiss); Vengeance in Her Bones by Malcolm Jameson; The Gostak and the Doshes by Miles J. Breuer, M.D.; Storm Warning by Millard Verne Gordon (aka Donald A. Wollheim); and Omega by Amelia Reynolds Long.

The blurb from the back of the Avon Fantasy reader from Wiki : 

It was sold at many newsstands around the United States. The back cover of Avon Fantasy Reader carried this blurb:
Past, Present, or Future or whatever sector of time and space you prefer, you'll find the stories in these pages encompass the entire universe of imagination. From the eerie, spook-haunted corridors of ancient Asian castles to the water-choked avenues of Atlantean kingdoms... From the sinister sands of icy Martian deserts to the thunderbolt battles of future's interplanetary rockets. Neither the invisible energy of atom nor the monstrous matter of the Milky Way present barriers to the mind that author these amazing fantasies. There are no boundaries to the astonishment, thrills and chills you'll meet in the pages of... the Avon Fantasy Reader!
The majority of the fiction published in Avon Fantasy Reader were reprints of works published in pulp magazines.
Avon was a solid company who produced some really cheap and readily available resources besides libraries where folks might find the lesser known authors who would later become household names among fantasy, wargamers, and table top rpg players. 

Wiki had this to say about Avon: 
Avon strived to bring readers little known stories by then little recognized writers such asH. P. LovecraftRay BradburyC. L. MooreA. MerrittMurray Leinster and William Hope HodgsonAvon Fantasy Reader was published from 1946 to 1952 and had 18 issues in full.
In 1951 Avon launched a sister title, Avon Science Fiction Reader, featuring reprints of science fiction.[2] This magazine lasted just three issues before being cancelled in 1952. In January 1953, both magazines merged to become Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, which lasted for two issues before being cancelled as well in April of the same year

Old School Gaming 'The Avon Way'

Cover of the first issue.  At the base of the, a zombie-like figure peering at the viewer over a wall or other flat object.  Other objects in the image are a skull, a distant full moon and a ghost-like figure emanating from a list of authors.

Avon seemed to have both a wide ranging and a wide breath of fantasy, sword and sorcery, as well as a smattering of classic horror right in with a sprinkling of science fiction all packaged in one slick little digest.
These thirty five cent magazines were many folks introduction into these worlds. The Avon way was to keep em coming back for more. The magazines were well edited, well thought out in story placement, and a with way out cover art.
The fantasy was easy to digest. It reminds me of many of the OSR one shot adventures where a night's entertainment are easily handled by a single party of adventurers. The stories seem perfect for just such endeavors, DM's might want to do the same with their players.
Encounters in these stories are high drama but seemed balanced to the circumstances of the 'heroes'. These tales always seem to have a black and white moral sense to them with sharp contrasts of grey when it comes to the heroes.
 All in all many folks haven't heard of the Avon Fantasy Readers giving the Dungeon Master a bit of an advantage when modeling adventures on some of the lesser tales featured. All in all the Avon Fantasy Reader is another solid feather in the DM's war bonnet.  


  1. Holy cow, I had at least one of these. Thanks for the link!

  2. You are welcome and I've found a few of these in flea markets and tag sales over the years. They've gotten much harder to come by these days. And there's more to come.