How to use this site
There are two major aspects to this site:
The book reviews are grouped under the Review category. I am not an experienced or particularly insightful reviewer, but I just do it in my own way based on my experience as a long-time science fiction reader, employing my somewhat limited command of the ability to express oneself adequately using the written word. I would greatly appreciate any feedback on my reviews in terms of constructive criticism. I’m always looking to improve them.
Despite my inexperience and possible shortcomings, due to the obscure nature of many of the books I collect you will likely be stuck with some of these as the only reviews you will find anywhere. There is no real objective yardstick to measure the quality of a book apart from how much I liked it. Well, it’s objective from my frame of reference, but not necessarily yours. Basically I just like to tell you if the story was enjoyable (or not) and why.
I use graphics to try and encapsulate to what level I enjoyed the tale. You will see one of the icons above attached to each review to try and illustrate this. The ratings also have their own categories over on the right, so you can see all books that were, for example, of Orbital or of Stellar! quality. Again, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the writing, or the coherence of the plot (though I’ll probably touch on those things in the review), but it’s about how much I enjoyed the book. After all, we read books like this for enjoyment, right??
The other major dimension to this site is the Close Up category, introduced by the investigator looking guy. Under this heading I photo-document each book. I try to give you the best possible look at each of the Gnome Press titles. I’ll highlight the good points and I’ll point out the bad – you will get a real peek under the covers at these fine titles. It’s a warts-and-all expose, if you will. I try to use the terms on the Book Binding and Repair Terms page where possible.
I also try to establish some provenance for each book, I try to ask the people I get the books from if they can supply any. Anything. Everything has a history and I enjoy knowing and sharing the anecdotes or interesting snippets or whatever about these books. It gives them life and makes them real in a way that is different than the stories do. Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I think that these books are special. As artifacts – even if many aren’t particularly valuable in terms of money – they are rare, they are old and they deserve to have a character of their own. Perhaps only a select few are worthy of being called historic in terms of literature, but as a whole they do occupy a special place in the history of science fiction publishing. Now, this isn’t easy but it’s surprising what a friendly email and a couple of questions can bring.
Each Close Up is rounded out with a little publication info:
Year: year of publication
Paid: amount paid in $US, excluding shipping
Art: credited cover artist
Quantity: *amount printed
Binding: *binding info noted along with colors and style
GP Edition Notes: *1st edition noted and/or previous publication info
Chalker & Owings: listing info from The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History 1923-2002 (electronic edition) by Jack L. Chalker & Mark Owings
Currey: listing info from ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of their Fiction and selected Non-Fiction – Revised Edition’ by L.W. Currey
Comments: a few summary comments to round out the Close Up
Expand Upon: link to some additional information courtesy of wikipedia.com and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
* This info is supplied with reference to as many sources as I can cross reference. This typically includes:
- The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History 1923-2002 (electronic edition) by Jack L. Chalker & Mark Owings
- Lloyd Arthur Eshbach‘s ‘Over my Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era’
- ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of their Fiction and selected Non-Fiction – Revised Edition’ by L.W. Currey
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
- wikipedia.com and other various Internet sources
- Anecdotes and hearsay from other classic sci-fi enthusiasts and collectors
Also I attempt to grade the books. I’m certainly no book professional but I attempt to use some grading information I found on the internet and summarized on this site on the Book Grading Key page. I use a graphic to score this, using that grading info to rate each book on a 9 point scale through P (poor), G (good), VG (very good), NF (near fine) to F (fine) and F+ (fine+ or mint).
Fine+ or Mint
I don’t know of any site that does this for books in the systematic and probably over-ambitious way I’m doing it here. If anyone has any advice or input into this area of my efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
A couple of other areas of interest are:
In addition, any info, trivia or other data that I can’t fit neatly into the Review or the Close Up will accumulate on the Reference Errata, Anomalies, Trivia & Other General Info page. I want to try and keep the Close Ups and Reviews directly related to the copy of the book that I have, and that page to editions of the books that I don’t have or stuff that is of general interest and usefulness (as far as possible anyway, there will be a bit of crossover between the two). It will be expanding constantly as new information comes to light. If you are a serious Gnome Press enthusiast, I recommend you check it out.
Any articles I find or obtain that are directly related to collecting Gnome Press books will appear on the For Gnome Press Collectors page.
Because the tales contained in these books are at least 50 years old, in some cases their ownership has passed into the public domain. These stories eventually appear in text and/or audio on sites like Project Gutenburg or Librivox. When I find GP books that are freely available on the ‘web, I list them on the Gnome Press books online for FREE page.
All the photos used in the Close Up feature I take myself and are warehoused over on Flickr. If you want to see them all in one place, you can zip to my Gnome Press site over there. Click the small banner at the top of the page on the right, the one that looks like this:
Lastly, if you discover any links that aren’t working or going to the wrong location or whatever, please let me know.
Many Thanks!! I hope you find this site interesting, informative, useful and entertaining.