Archive for Judith Merril

A New Jacket…

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by Aaron

Well, three jackets actually… And two new books.

From Jim at The Exiles Bookshop over at abebooks.com

Near Fine copies of The Bird of Time by Wallace West and Judith Merril’s SF’59, which completes the SF’xx series from Gnome Press.  Though starting with GP, the series ran on under a different title with other publishers into the 1960s, – up until 1967 with SF12, I believe.

The two of the jackets I picked up are first states of Men Against the Stars and Journey to Infinity, and the other is from Earthman’s Burden.  All three are in mint condition – never having been on books by the look – with absolutely no creasing at all.  Can someone answer me as to why?  Could they be surplus from print runs?  This begs the question: what should I do with them?? Should I put them on the books (I have them all)?  I’m inclined to think that a protected jacket is safest actually on a book rather than stored away somewhere…

Anyway, I’m very happy with the service I got from Jim and recommend you drop by for a look.

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Close Up: SF’57: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1957, Close Up with tags , , on July 18, 2010 by Aaron

closeupJudith Merril, editor
1957

The second in the series and the one I acquired third.  This particular copy has two sides.   Firstly, the jacket, while quite nice, has a couple of significant issues.  None are apparent on the cover itself which is quite… nice. But you can see some problems on the spine.  We’ll have a closer look at those soon.
I said two sides.  The other ‘side’ as it were, is the condition of the binding.  Which is Fine.  I’m inclined to suspect that this jacket may have been married to the book.  The wear overall doesn’t seem to be reflected on the binding.
I think I will have to exhibit a bit more care with my post-processing of the Close Up photos.  I’m not very happy with these in hindsight.  There are a few ragged edges where I haven’t removed the background carefully enough.  I’ll see if I still have the originals and maybe replace these ones.  In any event, you can see the boards are nice and clean and sharp. The pages are crisp without any discoloration.
The top and bottom view are pleasing from the binding’s point of view.  The block is white and sits nice and square.
The bottom of the jacket is quite frayed.  Thankfully there are no chunks missing and the dust jacket protector holds it together well.  The pink color on the spine looks a bit faded when compared to that on the front cover.
There is a nasty score on the spine, you may have noticed it earlier.  Here’s a closer look.
Now, there is no trace of this on the spine of the binding.  I thought perhaps there might be hence my suspicion about the jacket/book combination not being original.  Maybe.  Maybe not.
A little dirty looking shelf-wear on the back.  Not as bad in person.  Apart from the obvious fraying at the base of the spine, it is pretty sound.

Year: 1957
Paid: $16
Art: W.I. Van der Pohl
Quantity: 3000 (Eshbach, wikipedia)
Binding: Red cloth with black lettering on spine
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated
Chalker & Owings: SF:57—THE YEAR’S GREATEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, edited by Judith Merril, 1957, pp.320, $3.95. 3000 copies printed. Jacket by W.I. Van der Poel. Simultaneous edition: mass market pb, Dell, NY: 1957. Basically for the library market, explaining the short run.
Currey: SF’57. New York, The Gnome Press Inc, Publishers, [1957]. First edition so stated on copyright page. Note: Dell and Gnome Press editions published simultaneously.
Comments: Pages and binding are in beautiful condition, pity about the jacket.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

New Arrival

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , on March 8, 2010 by Aaron

The Judith Merril-edited SF’57: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy arrived today.  Looks good as described on eBay.  Mighty fine buy for the price, I think.  We’ll have a look at it soon as it came with no jacket protector and I need to photograph it smartly and get it bundled up safely.  I’m looking forward to reading it actually (if I can ever get past Judgment Night…) as it contains another short story from Zenna Henderson and also Ms Merril’s illuminating prefaces to each story.  Check out the Review of SF:’58 to see what I mean.

Movement in the right direction…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Aaron

The Macbook is getting closer.  I’ve been waiting a long time to have my very own computer again – a whole year!!

Also, yesterday I picked up editor Judith Merril’s SF’57 off eBay.  It’s a copy that’s been kicking around there for a while and the price has dropped during that time to about half what it was originally listed at.  I got it for $12.  It looks to be in Good condition, and at that price, a pretty good deal I thought.  A copy of Travelers of Space with a Fine jacket together with a jacketless Five Science Fiction Novels (both edited by Martin Greenberg) went for $103 on eBay today.  Wow.  I have both books, Five Science Fiction Novels in better condition with a jacket (see the Close Up) and my copy of Travelers of Space is also in Fine condition (it hasn’t made it to the blog yet but it’s in similar condition to my copy of SF’56).  This puts me in good heart as to the value of the copies I have.  Especially as the jacket of Travelers was noted in the auction to be ‘married to the book,’ whatever that means.

Review: SF’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1958, 3:Lunar, Review with tags , on November 5, 2009 by Aaron

Judith Merril, editor
1958

I’ve been reading a little slow lately – it’s taken me about a month to work my way through this anthology. My reactions to it are a bit mixed, though before looking a bit more closely at it, first a very brief history.  The SF(‘xx) series edited by Judith Merril was a long-running annual series in which Ms Merril attempted to collect the outstanding SF&F for a particular year.  To put things in their proper order, I’ll talk more about this and her when I review the very first tome in this series.

As I said, my reactions were mixed.  I normally read anthologies cover to cover, as I imagine the editor always has some sort of structure or theme development in mind when putting the thing together.  While I did read the first story first, I thereafter hopped all over the shop in reading.  I’m not sure if this affected my reading experience or not.

I felt it was quite an odd bunch of stories – a couple I thought were fantastic, but others were a little strange to my way of thinking.  I just want to mention a couple of my favorites before taking a general overview.

The Wonder Horse by George Byram is a fantasy tale about a mutant racehorse that goes on to be unbeatable, the controversy the horse generates and how it’s owners cope with the sudden fame and fortune.  A very straightforward story, no real surprises or twists, no startling conclusion, and one that perhaps seemed a little misplaced in an anthology of this nature.  To my surprise though, I enjoyed it a lot.  A thoroughly engaging and satisfying read.

The other (and perhaps the) stand-out tale for me was Zenna Henderson’s Wilderness.  Told with extreme skill and wonderfully paced, it relates the experiences of one young woman – a teacher in a very small and remote South-West town – and the discovery of who she really is.  Confused and frightened by her heightened senses, she thinks her sanity to be slowly deteriorating until she meets someone like her and reluctantly accepts her true identity.  I’ve since discovered that those of you familiar with the ‘People’ series from Zenna Henderson will no doubt more-or-less know what they are in for here, but for me it was new and unfamiliar.  Ms Henderson was a very talented writer and I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of her work; she also appears in both Judith Merril’s first Gnome Press anthology and in SF’57.

The Fly by George Langelaan deserves a mention of course.  A tale with which everyone is very familiar now, but nevertheless it was an education to read in it’s original form.  This is (I think) it’s first publication in hardcover, although it was earlier published in Playboy magazine in July, 1957.

Another notable inclusion is Near Miss.  The last Henry Kuttner story to be published; a tribute to the prolific and very popular author who died that year.

Prefacing each tale is a small introduction by Ms Merril and at the back of the book is a Summary and a section called ‘The Year’s S-F, Summation and Honorable Mentions’ – a kind of an appendix or perhaps a reading list for you.  The short introductions add an extra dimension to each tale –  Ms Merril gives us the occasional bit of insight into her choices, a little background or info on the author and/or story.  They make for interesting reading so here they are reproduced for your appreciation.

View this document on Scribd

Complementing the stories are 6 non-fiction articles that comment on various aspects of science fiction and ‘space science’ in general.  The most interesting of which is Sputnik: One Reason Why We Lost written by G. Harry Stine.

In all honesty, I struggle to see how this could be collectively considered ‘The Year’s Best’, but Judith Merril is far more experienced than I when it comes to this kind of thing so I take her at her word.  Having said that though, the inclusion of that non-fiction really adds an extra dimension to this book and this combined with those two or three exceptional tales make the effort worthwhile.

Close Up: SF: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1956, Close Up with tags , , on October 13, 2009 by Aaron

closeupJudith Merril, editor
1956

This is the first installment in a long-running annual anthology series put together by Judith Merril, but I’ll talk more about the series itself in the Review for this.  This is the rarest and typically priciest title in the series, and like its brother I recently did the Close Up on, this is in almost flawless condition.  Actually better than it’s younger sibling. And like with that, there in’t really much to say.  So lets check it out.

Fantastic condition. The dust jacket is completely without issue. Sharp edges all around, bright colors, no fading on the spine – absolutely beautiful. Another cool thing is that the cover art is by Ed Emshwiller. After this, the subsequent Gnome Press editions in this series were inked by W.I. Van der Poel, of whom I am NOT a fan.

The cloth boards are sharp. Looks great. Currey ‘A’ binding too, which is even better.
With the view from the top we can see the only issue this copy has, but well have a closer look at that in a second.


Spine sits square and the binding is tight. You can see the edges of the jacket are nice and sharp. The block is barely discolored at all.

Here’s a closer look at that issue.  I looks like a bit of liquid has at some point gotten on to the cloth somehow.

The jacket is great.  You can see the only touch of wear on the front corner of the tail.  Negligible.
It has a book plate.  It’s one we’ve seen before on The Survivors – different name though.
Mark Wm. Waterbury.  I assume the Wm. stands for William.  I’d like to shake his hand for taking such wonderful care of this book.
The back is spotless and bright.
I have to give a plug to Mike at Mars Books and Wood.  This isn’t actually the copy I picked up.  I purchased the other copy he has there and he said to me he had a better example he could give me for a few dollars more.  I said “Ok.”  Mike and I have had dealings before.  I got Forgotten Planet and This Fortress World off him a while ago on very good terms, so I had a degree of confidence in what I would receive.  Confidence well placed.  Many Thanks Mike!!

Year: 1956
Paid: $93
Art: Ed Emschwiller
Quantity: 3000 copies
Binding: Currey priority ‘A’.  Red cloth with black lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: A superb copy. I’m going to suggest that this is in Fine condition despite that small stain at the top of the spine – am I stretching the truth?? $93 seems to be a pretty good price, I’ve seen worse examples offered for a lot more.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

New Arrivals

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by Aaron

Very happy!!  The two I’d been expecting arrived today.  The Castle of Iron and SF: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (effectively SF ’56).  The Castle of Iron was as expected, actually better.  The book is in NF condition excepting the severe sunning on the spine.  Does anyone know what effect this condition has on grading??  So I was satisfied there.  The other left me speechless.  As I was unwrapping it, I could see it was looked great, but once I actually had it fully unwrapped it is superb.  The dust jacket is almost flawless and aside from just one small blemish and a book plate the book itself is awesome.  I’ll do a Close Up on it very soon.