Archive for George O. Smith

T-shirts…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 15, 2013 by Aaron

I discovered a great little place here in Seoul where one can get t-shirts printed.  Well, I didn’t actually discover it so much as was told about it by a friend.  Anyway, it’s a great little place.  You can choose from their selection of good quality shirts, sweatshirts and such-like, or take in your own and get whatever you like printed on them.  I got several done and I’ll be going back to get some more.  Why I’m talking about this, and I wanted to mention it here is that I scanned and adorned a shirt with the cover art of Pattern for Conquest.  I must say, I am impressed with the results – both the shirts and the printing are of excellent quality.

IMG_2641

I’m definitely going to get some more done.

GP in Paperback Parade

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by Aaron

I’ve been sorely remiss in posting about correspondence I’ve had in the past year or so regarding Gnome Press.  Well… ‘sorely remiss’ is a kind of euphemism really.  Putting it succinctly, I’ve just been f***ing lazy.  Time to catch up and pay some dues.

A while back I bought the Armed Forces paperback issue of Pattern for Conquest from Morgan Wallace.  He was kind enough to enlighten me as to his GP interest.  He has all four Gnome paperback issues, and actually wrote a piece for Paperback Parade in 2005 outlining the history of the Gnome Press paperback dalliance.  Morgan sent me scans of his article and of the four GP paperback titles.  Here is first the piece and then his covers.

View this document on Scribd

Many thanks for these Morgan.  They are greatly appreciated and a fantastic addition here at the Odyssey.  They’ll make a permanent home over on the Trivia page.

Close Up: Highways in Hiding

Posted in 1956, Close Up with tags , on June 6, 2011 by Aaron

closeupGeorge O. Smith
1956

I’m reading this one at the moment. This copy is in VG condition and sports great Ed Emsh cover art that’s still quite bright. I like the artwork on this, although the theme is quite dark and a bit of a mystery unless you are aware of the story.  What are those strange things?  Why a stone(?) fist?  I (most people?) like a cover that allows us at least a little insight into the story.  For example, Starman’s Quest – two spacemen, we get the idea.  Iceworld – kids and an alien, got it.  This is one of the reasons I really dislike the later cover art as I mentioned in the Close Up for Two Sought Adventure.  This here sets up more mystery than insight, but some like that I guess.  Let’s have a look.

Quite nice overall with no glaring issues except looking generally old.  No issues sans dust jacket but some slight bumping to the head and tail of the spine.

Looking at the edges at the top and bottom of the book we can see the aged look highlighted.


Some slight curving to the edges of the boards with a couple of small dings. The block is typically GP darkened as well with the pages well on the way to becoming brittle.

A close look at the head and tail reveals some wear on the jacket.

Negligible wear on the tail of the dust jacket.  The edges all-round are in excellent condition in fact aside from the top of the spine.
A book plate affixed to the front pastedown tells us that one William Robards Wetmore once had this copy in his library. I wonder if it lived next to any other GP titles?

William seems to have looked after it, at least.  Cheers.
A bit of age darkening makes the rear of the book look old, just like the rest of it.  Still, nice and clean with no rubbing.

Year: 1956
Paid: $41
Art: Ed Emshwiller
Copies: 4000 (Eshbach, wikipedia)
Binding: Tan cloth with dark green lettering on the spine
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: HIGHWAYS IN HIDING, by George 0. Smith, 1956, pp.223, $3.00. 4000 copies printed. Jacket by Ed Emshwiller.
Currey: HIGHWAYS IN HIDING. New York: Gnome Press, Inc. Publishers, [1956]. Three bindings, probable priority as listed: (A) Tan cloth, spine lettered in dark green; (B) Gray boards, spine lettered in red; (C) Black boards, spine lettered in red.  First edition so stated on copyright page.
Comments: A reasonably nice copy of this title.  I wish it didn’t just look… old. It doesn’t deserve to look that way as it’s actually quite nice, yet it does. $41 not too bad a price either I think.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

Oops…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 29, 2011 by Aaron

I’m just sitting in a Lotteria (Korea’s McDonalds) in Busan waiting to go to the ferry terminal as the GF and I are off at 9am to Fukuoka in Japan for the weekend.  I was messing around with different blog themes and I have screwed things up somewhat.  I’ve lost all my widgets, links and formatting in the sidebar.  Damn.  Anyway, we boarded the train in Seoul last night and arrived here in Busan at about 4am.  As I said, off to Japan on the fast ferry soon and returning from there at 4pm tomorrow.  We jump on the KTX (Korea’s bullet train) and hit Seoul before midnight tomorrow.  Whistlestop.

I’ve brought Highways in Hiding along for the ride…

Busan Train Station at about 4:30am via iPhone

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.

New Arrival

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , on September 14, 2010 by Aaron

Highways in Hiding arrived a couple of days ago.  It was sent to New Zealand by mistake, my mistake as I didn’t have my shipping addresses straight.  Not the first time that’s happened, but it’s fixed now.  I had a couple of other things to be sent over from NZ as well, so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience.  A set of macro extension tubes for my Pentax 6×7 camera, and several very nice copies of 2000AD of ’77 and ’78 vintage.

Unfortunately I no longer have a DSLR, so I can’t take satisfactory images for Close Ups at present.  Using the Pentax – a medium format film camera – for such a task is extreme overkill.  I might have to borrow one from someone… or buy another.

I have also recently moved house from Gugi-Dong in Seoul to very near Yaksu Station.  At present I’m in temporary accommodation until my permanent place becomes available in a month or so.  Consequently, almost everything is remaining in boxes until then.

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….

Review: Pattern for Conquest

Posted in 1949, 3:Lunar, Review with tags , on August 1, 2009 by Aaron

George O. Smith
1949

As I mentioned in the Close Up, I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this particular book.  Fortunately I didn’t have any expectations regarding the story, despite my eagerness in possessing a copy.  George O. Smith was a regular contributor to pulp magazines in the 40s, and this is his first true novel – albeit reassembled from serialization in Astounding magazine.  The only previous experience I’d had with Smith was the short story ‘History Repeats’ in audio form, which is available from Librivox as part of the ‘Short Science Fiction Collection 20’ audio collection.  I quite liked that story but just to preempt my review a little, it seems he developed his style a bit between the pulp release of ‘Pattern for Conquest’ in 1946 and the 1959 publication of ‘History Repeats’.

No (or low) expectations turned out to be a good thing.  Another good thing was that I’d read Space Lawyer a few weeks ago.  If you go back and read that review, it might give you a clue as to why it was good preparation.

‘Pattern for Conquest’ is an interesting book.  ‘Interesting’ however, is an adjective that can cut both ways.  The story defies a concise summary as quite a lot happens so I feel something of importance or interest would inevitably have to be omitted so I’m not going to attempt it.  I’m just going to talk about both sides of the ‘interesting’ label.

If you made yourself familiar with the Space Lawyer review, one of the main reasons I gave that book a COSMIC! rating is the use of the vernacular of the times.  The quaint mid-20th-century exclamaitions and language were a couple of reasons I enjoyed that tale so much, yet the very same factor works against this story.  In ‘Lawyer’ some of this language is so over the top that one suspects author Nat Schachner had his tongue firmly in cheek.  As a result, one is free to enjoy it as an endearing idiosyncrasy of the book.  Here, though Smith is not so bold with his turn of phrase, the language and witty repartee come across as especially dated.  Kind of like your old aunt’s 50s living room as opposed to the more progressive designs of the times.  Despite both possessing obvious roots in a common past, one retains it’s charm and style and the other is just… tacky and old.

Another thing that is ‘interesting’ is the apparent attempt at incorporating some ‘hard science’.  I refer to Robert Heinlein reasonably regularly in these reviews as he is probably the benchmark for science fiction of this period.  When RAH explains something in terms of the science or rationale behind it, it comes across as sensible, readable and at least convincing.  Whether it is actually true or not isn’t really important – it doesn’t stand in the way of the story.  Here, it’s not so.  Often I had to go back and reread descriptions of effects or processes as they came across as confused nonsense the first time around.  Even if they were scientifically sound they were clumsily handled. With the re-digestion and extra conjugation required (which took me out of the flow of the tale), I just had to either continue with a mental question mark over it or proceed on faith.  Both cases aren’t conducive to a satisfactory reading experience.

Ok, enough of the bad stuff.  The positive side of the blade is what propelled this out of an ‘Orbital’ rating and into ‘Lunar’ territory.  The story rocks along.  Though many things transpire a little too rapidly to be entirely comfortable, there is never a dull moment.  This book isn’t a page-turner but there is always something to come back to when you put it down.  I like a book like that.  As is typical with science fiction of this vintage, the book is too short – there are many ideas, situations and themes that would be given much more detailed treatment in subsequent eras, but the story itself, the premise of the whole thing is very good.  I especially liked the path that the earthmen chose in the face of their defeat and domination at the hands of their alien antagonists.  I can’t help but think that this was influenced by the cost (in all senses of the word) of WWII, the book being written just at the end of that period.

A story with many shortcomings, nevertheless a light and enjoyable read.  If you don’t mind a bit of simplistic gung-ho space opera and are prepared to accept this on it’s merits as a product of it’s time, then great.  If you are a trifle more demanding, well… you might not enjoy it.  Tempering that though is a faint but detectable current of intelligence and some real food for thought, especially towards the end.

Close Up: Pattern for Conquest

Posted in 1949, Close Up with tags , , on July 24, 2009 by Aaron

closeupGeorge O. Smith
1949

This is it.  This book is the biggest single reason I started collecting Gnome Press.  I had not long started to collect 1st edition SF, one of my first being Iceworld by Hal Clement.  I had never heard of GP before acquiring that particular book, so I ran a search on eBay for ‘Gnome Press’ and this book – Pattern for Conquest – was the first result I got back.  I remember being captured by the cover art, somehow being enthralled by it’s age… it had a special something that made me burn for Gnome Press.  I’m waxing a bit lyrical here, suffice to say that it all really began here, and now I finally have a copy of the book that got the Gnome Press ball rolling.  It’s the best condition copy I have ever seen, but it does have one solitary significant flaw.  Lets have a look.
Beautiful.  I just love the art that came out of Gnome Press once they got away from their few fantasy titles and before the obvious decline of the mid-late ’50s.  A little shelf wear to the upper right part of the cover and just the odd nick and wear around the edges.  The flaw is quite evident here – sunning on the spine.  It was mentioned in the description, though it’s still a little more severe than I expected.
Boards are nice.  A bit of bumping on the corners, but not really an issue.  There is one other thing to point out, it’s a bit hard to make out and it’s more pronounced on the back, but there is a couple of centimeters of lightening down the front edge of the boards.  Looks like it may have seen a bit of sun sans jacket at some point.
The views from the top and bottom reveal no surprises.
The jacket edges are nice.  Some slight age-toning of the block, but quite negligible.  You can see what looks like a water stain on the bottom of the block – it’s not.  It’s actually a light scratch.

You can see the jacket is very nice here, not much rubbing and practically no chipping.  The head and tail of the spine are very sound also.  The sunning however, is very noticeable in this view.  I’ve highlighted the two tones of orange.
A couple of interesting items of trivia regarding this dust jacket.  Briefly, a correction had to be made to the title on the spine (hence the odd white square) and ‘Minions of Mars’ (a never-published book) is listed on the back.
Check out the Trivia Page for more detail regarding these.
The rear of the jacket is beautiful and clean, rounding out a book in excellent condition.

Year: 1949
Paid: $38
Art: Edd Cartier is credited on the jacket flap and in Eshbach, though I have seen Hannes Bok mentioned as the artist variously around the Internet. I don’t know why that might be.
Quantity: 5000 copies. 3000 in hardcover, 2000 paperback armed forces issues.
Binding: Orange cloth with darker spine and front board lettering.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Like ‘Cosmic Engineers’, I paid a reasonable price for a copy in this condition.  A bit unfortunate though with the sunning on the spine downgrading this to Near Fine.  Still, I’m very pleased with it.  A desire fulfilled.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

One I really wanted…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 12, 2009 by Aaron

Pattern for Conquest by George O. Smith is one Gnome Press title I have really, really wanted.  Now I have it!!  In Fine condition too!!  Just won it on eBay.  I’ll talk about why this title was so appealing to me in the Close Up whenever that will be.  I’m very excited about having it arrive.