Hungary has a tradition of science fiction dating back to the early nineteenth century, though the only names known in the English-speaking world are Mór Jókai and Frigyes Karinthy. In the years since the Second World War, Soviet sf dominated Hungary until Péter Kuczka emerged to champion the genre. He started the Kozmosz series of sf books with publisher Móra Ferenc in 1969, helped organize the first sf convention in Hungary in 1971 and was a founding member of the first European SF Convention in Trieste in 1972. In September 1972, through Móra, he launched Hungary’s first sf magazine, Galaktika, which sold out its initial print run of 39,800 copies. He was assisted on many issues by László Fazekas. Galaktika was originally quarterly and issued in large-digest format, running to 128 pages. It was not until 1985 that it expanded into full-flat-magazine format, by which time it was selling over 50,000 copies a month, and was ranked amongst the most respected periodicals in the world. It was a struggle at the outset when Kuczka received much opposition from the sf fan base in Hungary. One viewpoint was expressed by János Kis, vice-secretary of Hungary’s Central Science Fiction Club in 1978:
A small group of professional writers have monopolized the field of SF in Hungary. Thus the fans have neither any rights to intervene in the publishing of books nor any hope to appear, ever. These evil conditions are caused by Mr Péter Kuczka, who hates any co-operation. This leaves its mark on the quality of appearing publications.14
While the local fans felt aggrieved, it was evident that Kuczka was trying to do his best for Hungarian sf by producing a magazine of high quality.
His attitude was similar to Stanislaw Lem’s. Attila Németh comments:
Peter Kuczka was a noted poet in Hungary, and after the crushed 1956 revolution he was prohibited from publication. As a kind of compensation they gave him the editor’s chair at Móra’s Kozmosz line. It was natural for him to seek out respected Hungarian authors of prose and verse to produce highly experimental SF, to raise the genre to the level of ʻhigh literature’. He was afraid that associating Galaktika with the fan-movement would drag it down again to the dreaded pulp ranks. With this, of course, he made many enemies in the Hungarian SF community.15
Each issue was a blend of translated material from a wide variety of sources (despite the title, it was not drawn chiefly from Galaxy) plus several Hungarian stories, reviews and articles. Many issues were themed, either by author or subject. The first issue, for instance, ran an article on and several stories by Robert Sheckley. Issue #2 featured Ray Bradbury, #3 French sf, #4 A. E. van Vogt., #5 artificial intelligence, #6 Italian sf, and so on. By publishing material from such diverse sources, Galaktika became one of the most cosmopolitan of sf magazines, far more so than any English-language title, and presented such a fund of ideas and approaches to storytelling that it inspired a whole new generation of writers. Those whom Kuczka published and helped develop in Galaktika included Béla Kasztovsky, István Nemere, Gyula Fekete, Zoltán Csernai, Péter Szabó, László Lörincz and Mária Szepes, all of whom are now amongst Hungary’s leading sf writers. With or without the support of fandom, Kuczka was determined that Galaktika would present the best that he could find and he succeeded. The 1974 European SF Award was the first of several awards that he and his magazine would receive.
13 My thanks to Attila Nemeth for his help with this entry.
14 Personal letter, Kis/Ashley, 28 December 1977.
15 Personal e-mail, Németh/Ashley, 5 October 2006.
SOURCE: Ashley, Michael. Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980: The History of the Science-Fiction Magazine, Volume III (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007), Appendix 1: Non-English Language Science Fiction Magazines, pp. 403-404. (Boldface mine—RD)
Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English
Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto
Sándor Szathmári (1897-1974): Bibliografio & Retgvidilo / Bibliography & Web Guide
Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress
Frigyes Karinthy @ Ĝirafo
Frigyes Karinthy @ 50 watts
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