As of January 2015, Van Gelder has stepped down as editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction in favor of Charles Coleman Finlay, but remains publisher of the magazine. After graduating from Princeton University (where he edited a science fiction magazine called Infinity), Van Gelder started working as an editorial assistant at Saint Martin"s Press in 1988, later rising to full editors In January 1997, he became the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction upon the resignation of Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
He continued working at Saint Martin"s until October 2000, when he bought the magazine from Edward L. Ferman to become its publisher.
During his tenure, F&San Francisco became the second longest-running science fiction magazine, surpassing Amazing Stories in total number of issues published. lieutenant is exceeded only by Astounding/Analog.
Van Gelder also began focusing on the publication of themed anthologies drawing from the magazine"s back list rather than the best-of annuals published when Ferman was the magazine"s publisher. He later edited a collection of notable stories from F&San Francisco, The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, published by Tachyon Publications.
Van Gelder has made some behind-the-scenes changes to F&San Francisco. While the Fermans published the magazine through Mercury Press, Van Gelder founded his own press, Spilogale Incorporated., named for a genus of spotted skunk.
He has also moved the editorial offices from New York City to Jersey City, New Jersey. Van Gelder currently lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 2011, Oregon released an anthology edited by Van Gelder, Welcome to the Greenhouse: Science Fiction on Climate Change, with an introduction by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert.
Richard Van Gelder, his father, was Curator of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History.
Lawrence Van Gelder, an uncle of Van Gelder, was a senior editor at The New York Times until his retirement in 2008. Van Gelder is also distantly related to noted Jazz recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.