Archive for the Uncategorized Category

I, Robot, fair game on eBay…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 28, 2010 by Aaron

A few days ago, a copy of Asimov’s I, Robot was available on eBay.  This was interesting because the start price was set very low, though it did have a reserve set.  You can see the completed auction here, at least while it’s still available.  Below are a couple of the images that I swiped from the auction.

As we know, this is the absolute pinnacle of Gnome Press collecting. One of the pinnacles of all of SF collecting for all that. I was extremely interested in the outcome of this. Books are often posted with ‘Buy Now’ prices, but this practice gives no real indication of what a book is really worth. The online dealers don’t help much either as from what I’ve observed over the past couple of years tells me that the typical dealer prices a book something like from 50% to 75% or even more over what a no reserve auction will fetch on eBay. So, as I mentioned, the outcome of this particular auction would be a real eye-opener.  It was.  Reaching a final price of $380, and not reaching reserve meant that it didn’t sell of course. I was surprised.  I expected it to fetch at least $500 or even more.  This particular copy isn’t in great condition, sure, but it isn’t all that bad either considering the status of the title.  Reflecting upon this, I suspect that having a reserve hurt the ultimate value of the auction.

Anyway, thought it was worth chalking this one up for posterity and future reference.


QR Code

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2010 by Aaron

This is fascinating.  I’ve seen these around on posters and billboards here in Korea but never really knew what they were.  I suspected they were information of some description but had no idea exactly what or how they worked.  I looked into it yesterday.  ‘QR Codes’ they are called – quick response codes.  Check out the originator’s site here, and at wikipedia for more info.  I thought I’d make one (there are numerous generators online) and present it here.  You’ll have to find some way to decode it if you want to find out what it means.
I want one of these on a tshirt.

Brief Reflections from The Dark Tower

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2010 by Aaron

I recently finished listening to the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.  This is the second time I’ve listened to it, the first being about four years ago.  It’s very good.  At least, I enjoy it immensely.  The reason I mention it here is that Mr King throughout the seven books in the series alludes to or directly mentions many, many literary figures, their books and their creations.  Just by way of example, Arthurian legend figures prominently, The Wizard of Oz and Frank L. Baum are ascendant at one point, the similarities to The Lord of the Rings are unmistakable, Dr Seuss, Harry Potter, Robert Heinlein, Richard Adams… the list goes on and on.  Movies and TV series are similarly referenced.  Check out the series’ Intertextual References section at wikipedia. The series is a bibliophile’s (especially an SF&F bibliophile’s) trainspotting paradise.

Of interest to us here are the references to works from Gnome Press.  I picked up two concrete references and one that I’m not so sure about.  The most obvious example is the name of one of the organizations that the Crimson King uses as a front and that manufactured most of the technology that is now decaying in Roland’s world – ‘Northwest Positronics’.  The obvious reference is to the kind of brain that Isaac Asimov’s robots have in I, Robot – they have positronic brains.  Just as I write this, it occurs to me that the ‘Northwest’ part could potentially be a reference to Northwest Smith – C.L. Moore’s erstwhile gunslinging spaceman from Gnome titles Shambleau & Others and Northwest of Earth.  Just now, as I wrote that, it also occurred to me that I might not be drawing such a long bow here.  Northwest Smith is indeed a gunslinger unmistakeably cut from the same cloth as Roland of Giliad.

Next, Calvin Tower, obsessive book collector and proprietor of The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind, calls young Jake a ‘Hyperborean wanderer’ when Jake picks up his copies of Charlie the Choo Choo and the book of riddles.  Again, this is an unambiguous reference to the Conan the Barbarian series, Hyperborea lying somewhat to the north of Conan’s homeland.  This is probably also a nod to Clark Ashton Smith who is also referenced a couple of times in the series.

The third reference I detected is less direct.  When Pere Callahan is telling his story to Roland’s ka-tet as they wait for the ‘wolves’ to descend on the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis, he calls his world-shifting wanderings across parallel versions of the United States, his journeys through ‘highways in hiding’.  Now, if this was just mentioned once, I might dismiss this as a coincidence, but it is specifically referred to in that way at least four or five times.  Too many, in my opinion, to not be a nod to George O. Smith’s 1955 book Highways in Hiding – the latest to be added to my Gnome Press collection.

There we go.  Apologies for the largely unexplained references to characters and situations in the Dark Tower series, but do yourself a favor and read (or listen to) it.  It’ll make sense then, and you’ll also have a ball trying to catch all those references.  Not to mention enjoying a wonderful story.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 9, 2010 by Aaron

Highways in Hiding was sent to New Zealand.  So, in a similar fashion to some other books a while ago, it will be delayed in getting here.  It will be in good company for the trip though.  I picked up some very nice copies of very early 2000AD issues on auction in NZ recently, so they need to make the journey as well.  I really must ensure my shipping address is consistent across all Internet avenues.

The byproduct of this delay is that Science Fiction Terror Tales will turn out to be the book that caps (or should I say crowns) the first 50% of my GP collection.  Highways will kick off the downhill run.  Well, ‘downhill’ might be the wrong turn of phrase as that implies things getting easier.  Nothing could be (a lot) further from the truth.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 7, 2010 by Aaron

I think that’s the term in pro sport when a club signs a star player. Like when the L.A. Galaxy signed David Beckham, or a few years ago when my beloved New Zealand Warriors contracted Steve Price. ‘Marquee signings.’

This morning I picked up one of the marquee titles in the Gnome Press line-up.  Science Fiction Terror Tales edited by Groff Conklin.  I didn’t really mean to win it either.  It started at $195 and I put in a maximum bid of $251.  About 30 seconds from the finish someone trumped my max bid.  I thought about it a bit and came to the conclusion of “What the hell,” and just as a token I submitted a bid of $260.  I was in a rush as time was obviously ticking away and in the last couple of seconds I got it in.  Unbeknown to me, I had inadvertently hit the ‘9’ instead of the ‘0’ and entered $269 by mistake.  This rushed mistake won me the auction – beating the other bidder at $266.88.  A happy mistake.  Now all I have to do is pay for it.  So, I’m also going to pay for this mistake.

For what looks to be at least a VG copy of what is by popular wisdom the rarest of the GP titles, it’s a fair price.  I am very excited about receiving this.

It’s also, incidentally, the first book in the 50 – 75% bracket of books obtained.  A great way to kick off the third quarter.

Coming Attractions Coming…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 29, 2010 by Aaron

I did say the Undersea City Close Up would be next, but I have to slip this in.  I heard back from a very apologetic seller and Coming Attractions has been paid for and is indeed on it’s way now, or will be very soon.  The nice thing was that because of his neglect of a reply for the past couple of weeks, he’s shipping it for free.  Nice man.

In other news I have a chance on what will, should I be successful, be my hugest acquisition so far.  Fingers crossed…

Another to add…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 26, 2010 by Aaron

Just won George O. Smith’s Highways in Hiding on eBay.  Looks like a very nice copy according to the description and accompanying images, but I’ll keep my emotions in check (see the Close Up post for Undersea City coming next for a bit more on that).

A couple of posts back I mentioned buying Coming Attractions.  That was a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve still not heard from the seller regarding the total price including shipping.  I’m a little concerned….


Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2010 by Aaron

Just picked up a copy of Undersea City by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson off eBay.  Nice looking copy for a fantastic price!!  Details when it gets here.

Missed out…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 30, 2010 by Aaron

I hate it when that happens.  I forgot about an auction last Friday.  Actually, I remembered it about 15 minutes after it finished.  The book in question was a copy of The Porcelain Magician, a collection from Frank Owen.

I normally don’t forget these things, and usually set an alarm to remind myself about them.  My iPhone gives me an alert shortly before auctions finish in any case..  On Friday however, things were a little hectic.  Being the native-speaking English teacher at my middle school here in Seoul, I run the speaking tests for the students at the end of each semester.  I develop a test for each class and organize their prep and test classes – it’s a very hectic couple of weeks (two in each semester), and probably my busiest time of the year.  Well, that and developing the English vacation class programs.  But anyway, last week was preparation week and on Friday morning I happened to be running around like a blue-assed fly (a term my dead grandfather used to use…) and the alerts went off in my pocket, but I didn’t notice them.  At least not until I took small break and checked my iPhone.  So I was a little annoyed with myself after that (to say the least) and I still haven’t gotten completely over it.

The reason I was (and are still slightly) upset is that this particular book was in pretty good condition.  There are several GP books that for some reason seem to be notoriously difficult to find in even VG condition, let alone Fine.  This is one of those titles.  Many thanks to the seller who let me use his images here.

You can see that it’s a bit worn and has a couple of small tears.  Foxing and discoloration are quite visible.  Probably in Good condition at best.  It is all in one piece though, and a Brodart (or similar) cover would make a huge difference to the appearance.  A slightly faded spine was mentioned, and though not entirely visible here, from what little is, it doesn’t look to be too bad.  Just on the spine thing, is it just me or have any other collectors out there noticed that a few GP titles have a chronic problem with faded spines?  I mean it’s next to impossible to find a copy of either this, Castle of Iron, Pattern for Conquest or Minions of the Moon without at least a little, if not significantly faded spines.

Anyway, I would have been prepared to go as high as about $50, but there was only one bid, and it went for the starting price of $19.50.  This is, I think, an excellent buy for this title in this condition.  Congrats to the winner.  But it would have been mine if not for my lapse in attention….

Gnome Press at

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2010 by Aaron

A while ago, Christophe sent me a link to a fantastic examination of Gnome Press at  Written by Earl Terry Kemp and titled ‘The Anthem Series: Part V: Gnome Press’, it is a brief but extremely interesting look at GP in a similar fashion to that of Fantasy Press founder Lloyd Arthur Eshbach‘s recollections in his book Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era.

Actually, it isn’t that brief.  Well, the recollections are a bit so, but the included reference to all works by Gnome Press is very extensive.  Ranging from the Gnome Press calendars to the Science Fiction World newsletter, through all the books and including a checklist at the end, it’s a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to see exactly who Gnome Press was and what they produced over their history.  There is info on the different printings and jacket states as well.  I’ll be feeding some of this info into my own trivia page over time and as required.  No meaningful reviews, but the contents of the stories are described.  Alongside the original covers are the covers of the original publications (pulp mags for the most part) where the stories appeared.  I highly recommend anyone interested in GP and the Golden Age of SF to check it out.

The Anthem Series at eFanzines covers the Golden Age specialty press publishers.  The entire series is thus:

Part 1 – Fantasy Press also has the Fantasy Press Story by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach

Part 2 – Fantasy Press (cont)

Part 3 – Prime Press, Avalon Company and Chamberlain Press

Part 4 – Shasta: Publishers, and Gorgon Press

Part 5 – Gnome Press

Part 6 – Arkham House and Mycroft & Moran and the second section here.