Archive for the 1951 Category

Close Up: Typewriter in the Sky & Fear

Posted in 1951, Close Up with tags , , on December 18, 2009 by Aaron

closeupL. Ron Hubbard
1951

I jumped on the opportunity to pick this book up.  And I know, it’s not in good shape – probably the worst in my collection aside from my reading copy of City and my ex-library Iceworld.  At $52 for this the price perhaps is a little steep, but from what I can determine it’s not outrageously too much for this title in this condition.  Let’s check out the damage.

I can use one word to sum up the condition of this book: shabby.  You can see the spotting on the jacket and the spine is noticeably faded.  The artwork by David Kyle is a little unconventional, but I like it nonetheless.  Sans jacket it’s not much different.
I really like the imprinting on the front board as GP did for several of their earlier titles.  In this case a cool confluence of the Fear eye and the Typewriter ribbon.
The top and bottom view, along with the close examination of the spine extremities only reinforce the overall first impression.


The spine is a bit wobbly and has a slight lean.

Both the head and tail of the binding are quite badly bruised.
Here’s a closer view of the nasty wear on the top rear edge of the front board.

The jacket, as you noticed over the last five pictures, is in generally poor condition.  Foxing, discoloration and overall wear.
Opening it reveals further misery.  One lengthy split along the front hinge…


..and another beginning to develop in the rear.
The back of the jacket is consistent at least.
Year: 1951
Paid: $52
Art: David Kyle
Quantity: 4000 copies
Binding: Tan boards with black lettering on the spine with a ‘typewriter ribbon and eye’ device embossed on the front board.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: A shabby but important addition to my collection.  I’m in two minds about the worth at that price.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: Renaissance

Posted in 1951, Close Up with tags , , on June 21, 2009 by Aaron

closeupRaymond F. Jones
1951

Part of a bunch of 4 books I got from Joe.  He bought them and some others in the ’90s as a kind of investment.  He’s offloading them now.  The book is in pretty good shape but a couple of salient flaws are apparent.  As usual, we look at the cover first, and it looks ok at first glance, but if we inspect a bit closer we can see some nasties.
Nice cover.  Some pretty general and standard edge wear to the jacket, but with a closer image we can see the issues.

A small hole on the wrap-around edge and a spot of something that looks like gum or glue or some such thing.  To be fair, Joe alerted me to these issues here so I did know what I was getting.
With the jacket off the book looks super.  Boards are clean but a kind of a strange crimping or folding at the tail of the spine.  Something Joe didn’t mention and which surprised me a little when I peeked under the front flap, you can see below.

Stewart got this book from someone (I can’t make out the name) back in ’55.  I’d love to know the history here.  Anyway, you can see the paste-down and the endpaper are a little darkened, the same is true at the back of the book.  If we turn a couple of pages, we can see the block itself is still nice and white.
And also an inscription and signature from Gnome Press co-founder, cover artist and book designer David A. Kyle.  Cool.  Note those two spheres, we’ll look at them later on.
No dramas from the top or bottom of the book.
Spine sits nice and square and the block is nice and white with no staining or foxing.  The head and tail of the spine reveal no surprises, except we can see the wear there in a bit more detail.
Just a couple of small closed tears there.  Isn’t the block nice and white though??
I’ve mentioned a couple of times in other Close Ups about the small touches that I really like about Gnome Press book design.  There is another example in this book.  Remember the two spheres I mentioned earlier?
The tag-line for the book is “A Novel of Mankind on Two Worlds” or “A Science Fiction Novel of Two Human Worlds” depending on where you look in the book.  The two little spheres obviously represent that.  These are the only two places in the book they appear, and it’s such a small, subtle touch.  I like it.
The final major issue appears on the back.
Nasty.  Big chunk out there.  Aside from that, very little discoloration or staining on the back.
Despite the issues, I am very happy to have this particular copy of this book.

Year: 1951
Paid: $40
Art: David A. Kyle
Quantity: 4000 copies
Binding: Blue boards with red lettering on spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Pretty good copy. Nice with Mr. Kyle’s signature. Unfortunate flaws, but I’m not too worried about them.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

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Close Up: Journey to Infinity

Posted in 1951, Adventures in Science Fiction Series, Close Up with tags , , on February 15, 2009 by Aaron

closeupMartin Greenberg, editor
1951

We saw what it looked like on the inside, so to speak, now for what the external appearance amounts to.  First, a bit of provenance.  This copy I have was previously owned by Charles Miller (the ‘Miller’ in Underwood-Miller Publishing) apparently.  I was told this by the chap I purchased it off, he actually bought it out of Miller’s library.  The nice Art Deco-ish cover art is by Edd Cartier and represents well the structure of the book which I talked about in the review.

There is what looks like sunning down the spine, but I’m not entirely sure whether it is or not.  Perhaps someone out there can confirm that.  One of the features of this book is that it has been inscribed by the editor Martin Greenberg.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I am very unsure if this is Mr Greenberg’s signature.  It says “To Jack with much affection ??”

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Admittedly it could be.  I can stretch my imagination to that possibility with no effort at all, but it certainly doesn’t obviously say “Martin Greenberg”.  Not to me at least anyway.  Again, I would greatly appreciate any confirmation on this particular point.

The top and bottom of the book look great.

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It’s nice and clean and sits square.  No lean in the spine.  Great.  You can see on the bottom, however, that there has been a bit of chipping along the boards (I’ve highlighted the bottom front corner there).

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Close up, the extremities of the spine look good.  Dust jacket nice, Fine in fact.  This is not a first state jacket though, on the back are listed books which appear subsequent to this.

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This book was published in 1951 and you can see heading the list is The Robot and The Man, a 1953 publication.  The rear of the jacket also looks great as you can see.  If we take it off, we are able to see the nice binding with attractive silver lettering.

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It’s the small touches that make the difference.  Have a closer look at the lettering and the fabric on the front board:

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See the symbol for infinity above the Gnome Press lettering and the man reaching for the stars??  Beautiful.

Year: 1951
Paid: $60
Art: Edd Cartier
Quantity: 5000 copies in the first printing, 2500 in the second according to Eshbach.
Binding: Olive boards with silver lettering on green cloth shelf back.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated on copyright page.  I’m not sure which printing my copy is from, but it does have a second state dust jacket if that’s any indication.  See the General Info page for more details.
Comments: Super. I was very tempted to go Fine, but that chipping on the bottom of the boards makes me think otherwise.  Reluctantly, I think Near Fine is more appropriate.  I would appreciate input from anyone who might have any insight into the sunning issue and especially the inscription: is it actually Greenberg’s signature and who is Jack??
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

Review: Journey to Infinity

Posted in 1951, 4:Stellar!, Adventures in Science Fiction Series, Review with tags , on February 13, 2009 by Aaron

Martin Greenberg, editor
1951

The tag-line on the cover reads “Arranged as a Story of the Imaginative History of Mankind”  I like the concept.  The editor, Martin Greenberg came up with a great idea.  I don’t know if this had been done in literature before (probably), but certainly I hadn’t encountered it prior to my Gnome Press experience.  What he has done in this anthology is collect disparate stories from different authors and arranged them in a kind of timeline to illustrate that ‘imaginative history of mankind’ that is mentioned on the cover.  Brilliant.  He had done this previously apparently with the collections Men Against the Stars and Travellers of Space and also subsequently in The Robot and the Man, which collectively are known as the ‘Adventures in Science Fiction Series’.  To highlight this, in the foreword Greenberg makes a point of repeating the opening paragraph of the foreword in the first book of the series.

“This book was planned from the very beginning to be more than just a collection of interesting adventure stories.  It was organized around a central idea, one theme which moves logically from story to story.  By building upon this unifying theme, we who prepared this book sincerely believe, a new idea in science fiction anthologies has been developed – a science fiction anthology which, taken in its entirety, tells a complete story.”

As I mentioned, I like this idea a lot.  If you have been reading this blog, you know I have read Robot & Man.  The arrangement worked well in that book – tracing the development of robots from their conception to their ultimate destiny.

This collection boasts an impressive array of well known and quality authors, but I’m not going to dwell upon them or the stories too much.

The first story by A. Bertram Chandler is called “False Dawn” and is set in a pre-modern ‘human’ society that is technologically advance though in a slightly eccentric fashion – dirigibles and balloons are popular for air transport for example.  It somewhat brings to mind Fritz Lang’s vision for Metropolis, but without the tall buildings.  Also there is an accepted but mysterious civilization on the moon which is where the problems begin.  The earth-dwellers notice the city lights gradually disappearing from the moon.  A refugee rocket from the moon attempts to land in an area containing many natural volatiles and sets off a apparently world-wide conflagration culminating in a global flood.  You can see where this is going.  After rescuing what they could, the survivors eventually ground on land they call ‘Mount Arrak’.  That’s not the only near-homophone in the story.  The names of the characters are eerily familiar too.

This story set the book up nicely.  We then have the predictable Atlantis story, an all-too-brief retrospective interlude with a near-immortal character in the 1950s who has seen the rise and fall of humanity over thousands of years, and a 20th-century-man-battles-his-warlike-nature story before heading into more traditional SF fare.

In the final story, “Metamorphosite” by Eric Frank Russell, man has come full circle.  We’ve colonized the galaxy, incorporated other species into our galactic civilization and forgotten about our homeworld.  Meanwhile, the original Terrans back on Earth have evolved powers of telepathy and mind control and moved on from the war-like, militaristic and paranoid state of mind we know so well.  Mankind unknowingly discovers his ancestors and after a brief pursuit on man’s capital world, the Terran representative convinces the powers-that-be that they would be outmatched by the Terrans in any conflict by a demonstration of how different the by now two species are.

The common theme throughout the book is disaster and rebirth.  For mankind to avoid stagnation and decay, and to keep progressing, some kind of crisis needs to occur.  In story after story this is the case.  From the intercontinental war that destroys “Atlantis”, to the workers uprising that results in ill-prepared refugees blasting off for the stars in Jack Williamson’s “Breakdown”, to man rediscovering fear itself after generations of total domination during galactic conquest in “Barrier of Dread” by Judith Merril, mankind faces, overcomes and moves on from these setbacks.

These stories were all written in the ’40s and ’50s.  Once again the bugbear of now-outdated technological thinking raises it’s head.  Why an entrance would be described as “…heavy enough to withstand a howitzer…” at a time 1.5 million years in the future is a little hard to fathom these days.  However, this brings me back to the introduction.

Written by Fletcher Pratt, he raises a couple of good points before the stories get underway.  Regarding technology, he reminds us that H.G. Wells had air war being fought in hydrogen-filled balloons and points out that the precise details aren’t really important (the general idea and effects described by Mr Wells were apparently very accurate).  The awry extrapolation of the future existence or use of a certain technology shouldn’t be the focus, but instead the idea or concept behind it.  After all, the stories in the book are extrapolations of what might exist or what might come to pass, and are not meant to be accurate predictions.  For me, that’s where the fun and adventure are – in those ideas – not in the technical details that are so often derided by the critical modern reader.

In summary, the stories are good.  An enjoyable read that kept me wanting to move on to the next tale wondering to where mankind had progressed next.  I’m certainly looking forward to obtaining and reading the remaining books in this series.