While we’re on the topic of my favorite Ace Doubles (trust me, we were), I should say a thing or two about Clifford D. Simak’s The Trouble With Tycho. Simak is not well remembered today. None of his 28 novels are in print (unless you count low-end Kindle or POD editions from specialty publishers), and he had something of a rep as a SF midlister for much of his career. But he remains one of my all-time favorite SF writers. He won three Hugos: for his 1963 novel Way Station, for the short story “Grotto of the Dancing Deer” (1980), and his 1959 masterpiece “The Big Front Yard,” perhaps the most perfect SF story ever written. He also won a Nebula (for “Grotto”).
Simak penned many fine SF adventure-mysteries. One of the first I came across was The Trouble With Tycho, the tale of a haunted crater on the moon and the desperate space miners who try to plumb its secrets. It was part of a 1961 Ace Double, with a cover by John Schoenherr and paired with A. Bertram Chandler’s Bring Back Yesterday. Here’s the blurb from the first page.
No Second Chance on the Moon
Prospecting on the Moon was pretty grim and un-rewarding. With no water, no oxygen, and almost no valuable ores, it was one helluva place to try and get rich quick. Only most of the would-be prospectors didn’t find this out until after they’d gotten there.
And Chris Jackson was no exception. He’d gotten the syndicate back home to put up the money for a moon rig and the passage out, and now he had to make good their faith in him. Had to make it on the Moon, even if it meant going into Tycho!
For Tycho was the one place on Luna where there were positive riches to be found — in salvage. The remains of three expeditions that had disappeared in Tycho would be perfectly preserved in that airless atmosphere, and the man who could get to them — and get out again alive — would have his fortune made.
The Trouble With Tycho was originally published in the October 1960 Amazing Stories, edited by the great Cele Goldsmith, where it was called a “novella,” not a novel (but who’s keeping track, really.) The cover was an early contribution from Alex Schomburg.
[Click for bigger, sexier version.]
Simak’s story was illustrated with black-and-white interior art by none other than Virgil Finlay, and coincidentally appeared right next to “Seeing Eye,” a short story by A. Bertram Chandler. (Rich Horton’s retro-review of the entire issue is here.)
The Trouble With Tycho had a nice run in paperback for over two decades. After the demise of the Ace Doubles, Donald A. Wollheim tried repackaging some of the most popular titles, three in one volume, in the first Ace Science Fiction Reader in 1971.
I always thought this was a terrific combo. The Trouble with Tycho, Empire Star, and The Last Castle? What’s not to love? But apparently I’m in the minority, as there were no more Ace Science Fiction Readers.
Ace brought the book back into print as a slender 115-page paperback in 1976, losing the accompanying Vance and Delaney novellas, but adding a gorgeous Michael Whelan cover.
That seemed to do the trick, as the book stayed in print for some years. It was re-issued by Ace in 1983 with a re-design using the same artwork, capitalizing on Simak’s Hugo and Nebula win in 1980.
Although I think the biggest difference in this version is the back-cover blurb, which this time featured a reveal from the actual text.
1983 saw the last year The Trouble With Tycho was in print in a mass-market edition. Not bad for an adventure novella from 1960, really. In the two decades since its first appearance, it had been illustrated by four of the greatest SF artists of the 20th Century: Alex Schomburg, Virgil Finlay, John Schoenherr, and Michael Whelan. Few — if any — novellas of the period can make anything like that claim.
The novel on the flip side of the Ace Double was an original: Bring Back Yesterday by A Bertram Chandler, the third volume of his Rim World series, which began with The Rim of Space (1961). The cover was by Ed Valigursky.
Here’s the blurb from the inside front cover:
Plot of the Time Tamperers
John Petersen, second mate on the interstellar run, met the gorgeous Ilona in the passengers’ lounge of the ship. Then he met her again in her apartment on Carinthia. In fact, that’s where he was when he missed the return flight, thereby becoming a Distressed Terran Spaceman.
For a while, it looked like Petersen was in deep trouble, for a D.T.S. is the kind of guy no one wants around. That’s why he was extra dubious when a Carinthian private eye offered him a job.
And taking that job was like jumping out of the alpha and in the gamma rays. For Petersen was soon to find himself in his own vicious time cycle. And unless he could figure it out, he wouldn’t even have the pleasure of dying.
The 1961 Ace Double edition was the only US printing of Bring Back Yesterday.
It did appear in two paperback editions in the UK in the early 80s from Sphere, who reprinted many of the Rim World numbers in order. I quite like Peter Elson’s cover, a rather uncharacteristic depiction of the protagonist.
The Trouble With Tycho / Bring Back Yesterday was published by Ace Books in 1961. It is 82+173 pages, originally priced at 35 cents. Both novels are currently out of print.
Copies of the original Ace Double edition aren’t particularly expensive — certainly much less than a new paperback. I bought a copy in good condition on eBay this month for less than $1.20, as part of a collection of three Ace Doubles for $3.50.
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.