thought-variant n.

a story characterized by a focus on significant ideas rather than action

Now hist.

Typically associated with the 1930s.

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism

  • 1933 Brass Tacks (editorial) in Astounding Stories Dec. 139 page image bibliography

    Our purpose is to bring to you each month one story carrying a new and unexplored ‘thought-variant’ in the field of scientific fiction.

  • 1934 The Eyrie in Weird Tales Sept. 397/1 page image

    Through the Gates of the Silver Key is a thought-variant story of the highest degree.

  • 1936 D. A. Wollheim True Thought Variants in Science Fiction Fan Sept. in Alchemist (Dec. 1940) 39 page image Donald A. Wollheim

    The first story of travel between the planets was a true thought-variant. It was something never used before, it opened a field in which innumerable tales could follow.

  • 1938 D. A. Wollheim STF in International Observer (#12) Winter 5 page image Donald A. Wollheim

    Stanley G. Weinbaum’s death sorrowed the entire Stf world. His loss is and will continue to be deeply felt. Let’s hope that he’s happy, turning out thought variants for ‘Heavenly Stories’, wherever he is.

  • 1939 H. Warner, Jr. It’s Astounding in Fantascience Digest (vol. 2, iss. 5) July–Sept. 25 page image Harry Warner, Jr.

    I should say that the first strong indication was in the ‘thought-variant’ (sicken you?) ‘ANCESTRAL VOICES’, featuring Mrs. Murphy and her famous children and baked beans. Then, with the first issue of 1934, came ‘COLOSSUS’, another ‘thought-variant’, and the rush was on.

  • 1941 ‘L. B. Farsaci’ A Collector Speaks in Spaceways (vol. 3, iss. 6, whole no. 22) Aug. 4 page image Larry Farsace

    There would be the ‘thought-variant’ stories and authors who consistently wrote stories of this type in which all that was important was a new idea of the universe or of cosmic implications, with just enough build of characters that you might sense the marvel with them.

  • 1944–1945 A. L. Searles Past Decades in Science-Fiction in Fantasy Commentator (vol. 1, iss. 5) Winter 87 page image A. Langley Searles

    The cover of the February [sc. 1935 Astounding] number was striking, if not artistic, a criticism which also applied to ‘The Ultimate Metal’ of Nat Schachner, the ‘thought-variant’ it illustrated.

  • 1964 A. Rogers Requiem for Astounding xiv. 182 page image Alva Rogers bibliography

    The type of science fiction published in the first years of the Tremaine Astounding was not, actually, too much different from that presented by Bates. In spite of the thought variant policy, action was still very much in evidence.

  • 1987 D. Schweitzer Letter in Aboriginal Science Fiction July–Aug. 39/2 page image Darrell Schweitzer bibliography

    Tremaine, in the ‘thought variant’ era, maintained Bates’s gains and pushed for genuinely imaginative concepts.


Research History
Suggested by Ben Ostrowsky.

Last modified 2021-04-28 18:03:26
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.