For the first few years I edited Science Fiction Age, every new subscriber received a copy of the magazine’s first issue. That’s because we printed 175,000 copies it—125,000 for bookstores and newsstands, 25,000 copies for the subscribers, and another 25,000 copies as an gift to entice for new subscribers.
But what to do after those latter copies were gone?
We decided we needed to create a new giveaway that potential subscribers would find attractive. So I came up with the idea of a small anthology we ended up calling Big Bangs: Famous First Stories by Science Fiction Masters. My reasoning, as laid out in the introduction, was that:
“Since Science Fiction Age is the first successful new SF magazine in a generation, we thought we’d share with you some other firsts … ”
Hyperbole, perhaps … but I still think a case could be made that I wasn’t that far off.
So I obtained reprint rights for the first SF publications of Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, Gregory Benford, Barry N. Malzberg, Michael Bishop, and Charles Sheffield—chosen because they’d all had far more recent work published in our pages—and collected them in an 80-page trade paperback.
Big Bangs, which Sovereign Media published in 1998, was never available for sale, only as a subscription premium.