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Vintage Treasures: Tales of Outer Space, edited by Donald A. Wollheim

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Tales of Outer SpaceSometimes I think I owe Donald A. Wollheim for a big chunk of my childhood.

Today we’re looking at Tales of Outer Space, a collection of interplanetary adventure tales edited by Wollheim in 1954, a decade after he invented the mass-market SF anthology with The Pocket Book of Science Fiction in 1943 (the first book with the words “Science Fiction” in the title), and not long after he produced  the first original SF anthology, The Girl With the Hungry Eyes, in 1947.

That’s some pioneering stuff. But Wollheim spent most of his career as a pioneer. From 1947 to 1951, he was the editor of Avon Books, where he introduced mainstream America to mass-market editions of some of the best fantasy from the pulp era — including Ralph Milne Farley’s An Earth Man on Venus (which I discussed last month), A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool, and eighteen issues of the highly sought-after fantasy paperback magazine, The Avon Fantasy Reader, among many other accomplishments. He even published C. S. Lewis’s Silent Planet space trilogy.

In 1952, Wollheim left Avon to spearhead a new paperback imprint, Ace Books, where he remained for 20 years. While there, he added science fiction to their lineup for the first time and, in a stroke of brilliance which endeared him to future generations of paperback collectors, invented the Ace Double in 1952.

You may have heard of some of his other successes at Ace as well: he first introduced Tolkien’s The Lord of Rings to the US in 1964 (against Tolkien’s wishes, as it happened) and published Frank Herbert’s obscure hardcover Dune in a paperback edition that made it a bestseller in 1965.

That ought to be enough for anyone. But of course, as many of you know, it wasn’t enough for Wollheim. In 1971, he left Ace to found his own publishing company, which bore his initials. DAW was the first mass market publisher to specialize in SF and fantasy, and before his death in 1990, it had acquired and published over a thousand titles, making it one of the most successful genre publishers of all time.

Of course, most of that was in Wollheim’s future when he released Tales of Outer Space — but the seeds of greatness were already there for anyone who looked.

Adventures in the Far FutureTales of Outer Space was an Ace Double, which means it was teamed with a second book on the flip side: Adventures in the Far Future, an SF anthology focused on far-future Earth.

That book, also edited by Wollheim, featured novelettes by Lester del Rey, Chad Oliver, Murray Leinster, Martin Pearson, and Poul Anderson.

But it’s Tales of Outer Space that really appeals to me every time I pick up a copy. Perhaps it’s Mort Lawrence’s evocative cover art, with a desperate high-orbit space walk over a strange alien world. Perhaps it’s the length of the fiction — I have a fondness for longer tales, and the fives tales assembled here are all novelettes culled from science fiction pulps.

But more likely, it’s Wollheim’s terrific description on the first page, under the heading “Interplanetary Epics”:

The most thrilling things to come will be the daring exploration and conquest of distant worlds. Here, in this brand-new science-fiction anthology, are five unforgettable novelettes which contain all the different types of excitement and peril that will follow the opening up of the universe to the rocket men.

Ralph Williams tells the strange story of the first break-away from Earth. Fox B. Holden introduces us to Mars and the incredible inheritance that waits there. Clifford D. Simak presents a mystery of one world’s inhuman inhabitants. Poul Anderson spins a cosmic web of the coming galactic empire. And L. Ron Hubbard tears through the veil of space itself to pose a turning point in humanity’s interplanetary epic.

Tales of Outer Space is an original collection of top science-fiction by top writers.

“Doorway in the Sky”
They thought their ship was the first to break into outer space until they spotted that derelict!

“Here Lie We”
The Martians had power, science, and experience — yet they were helpless before a fate that left Earthmen fearless!

“Operation Mercury”
No one knew whether the weird mimic of the Sunward Side was harmless — or crazy like a fox!

“Lord of a Thousand Suns”
He was just a man without a world until a certain space soldier blundered!

“Behind the Black Nebula”
With all the resources of super-science behind them, they still fought a losing war against that leaderless horde!

The rocket men! I love that description of astronauts. You didn’t see it much after the 1969 moon landing.

All the stories are drawn from Astounding, Startling, or Planet Stories. Here’s the complete TOC:

Contents

“Doorway in the Sky”
Ralph Williams (Astounding Science Fiction, 1953, as “Bertha”)

“Here Lie We”
Fox B. Holden (Startling Stories, 1953)

“Operation Mercury”
Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941, as “Masquerade”)

“Lord of a Thousand Suns”
Poul Anderson (Planet Stories, 1951)

“Behind the Black Nebula”
L. Ron Hubbard (Astounding Science Fiction, 1941, as “The Invaders”)

Tales of Outer Space was edited by Donald A. Wollheim and published by Ace Books (as D-73) in 1954. It is 140 pages (total with Adventures in the Far Future, 318 pages). The cover price is 35 cents. It has never been reprinted, and there is no digital edition.

We’ve covered the following Ace Doubles so far:

ATTA/ The Brain-Stealers by by Francis Rufus Bellamy and Murray Leinster
The Ship from Atlantis/ The Stolen Sun by H. Warner Munn and Emil Petaja
Vulcan’s Hammer / The Skynappers by Philip K. Dick and John Brunner
The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream by G.C. Edmondson
Bow Down to Nul / The Dark Destroyers by Brian W. Aldiss and Manly Wade Wellman
Gateway to Elsewhere / The Weapon Shops of Isher by Murray Leinster and A. E. van Vogt
The Cosmic Puppets / Sargasso of Space by Philip K. Dick and Andre Norton
The Beast Master / Star Hunter by Andre Norton
Big Planet by Jack Vance
City Under the Sea by Kenneth Bulmer
The Forgotten Planet (Planets of Adventure) by Murray Leinster
Six Worlds Yonder / The Space Willies by Eric Frank Russell
Sentinels of Space / The Ultimate Invader by Eric Frank Russell and Donald Wollheim
Ring Around the Sun/ Cosmic Manhunt by Clifford D. Simak and L. Sprague de Camp
The Trouble With Tycho/ Bring Back Yesterday by Clifford D. Simak and A. Bertram Chandler
The Last Planet (Star Rangers) by Andre Norton
A Touch of Infinity/ The Man With Nine Lives by Harlan Ellison
Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double
Tales of Outer Space/ Adventures in the Far Future edited by Donald A. Wollheim
The Pirates of Zan by Murray Leinster

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

9 Comments »

  1. […] in June I wrote a short blog entry about one of my favorite Ace Doubles, Tales of Outer Space and Adventures in the Far Future. I […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double - August 21, 2013 11:07 pm

  2. […] knew that bit about Don Wollheim and miniatures, or I would have mentioned it in my recent article. That’s cool […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Andre Norton, Michael Moorcock and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D - September 24, 2013 2:21 pm

  3. […] the Black Circle, Manly Wade Wellman’s The Complete Hok the Mighty, Donald Wollheim’s Tales of Outer Space, Isaac Asimov’s Before the Golden Age, and E.R. Bensen’s The Unknown (just to name a […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Experience the Joy of the Pulps With The Incredible Pulps - December 16, 2013 12:49 pm

  4. […] The last Ace Double we looked at here was Donald A. Wollheim’s twin anthology Tales of Outer Space/Adventures in the Far Future. […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: A Touch of Infinity/ The Man With Nine Lives by Harlan Ellison - February 10, 2014 11:49 am

  5. […] St. Clair Agent of the Unknown by Margaret St. Clair Secret of the Lost Race by Andre Norton Tales of Outer Space/Adventures in the Far Future, edited by Donald A. Wollheim The Pirates of Zan by Murray […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: The Last Planet by Andre Norton - February 16, 2014 7:20 pm

  6. […] of the Unknown by Margaret St. Clair Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double Tales of Outer Space/Adventures in the Far Future edited by Donald A. Wollheim The Pirates of Zan by Murray […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: The Trouble With Tycho by Clifford D. Simak / Bring Back Yesterday by A. Bertram Chandler - February 23, 2014 4:00 pm

  7. […] The Man With Nine Lives by Harlan Ellison Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double Tales of Outer Space/Adventures in the Far Future edited by Donald A. Wollheim The Pirates of Zan by Murray […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak / Cosmic Manhunt by L. Sprague de Camp - March 16, 2014 5:18 pm

  8. […] The Man With Nine Lives by Harlan Ellison Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double Tales of Outer Space/Adventures in the Far Future edited by Donald A. Wollheim The Pirates of Zan by Murray […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: Sentinels of Space by Eric Frank Russell / The Ultimate Invader edited by Donald Wollheim - April 13, 2014 8:02 pm

  9. […] The Man With Nine Lives by Harlan Ellison Kirkus Looks at Donald A. Wollheim and the Ace Double Tales of Outer Space/ Adventures in the Far Future edited by Donald A. Wollheim The Pirates of Zan by Murray […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick / Sargasso of Space by Andre Norton - November 19, 2014 1:47 am


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