Archive for Pattern for Conquest


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.


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.

Review: Pattern for Conquest

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

George O. Smith

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

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:, Internet Speculative Fiction Database


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.