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Vintage Treasures: City Under the Sea by Kenneth Bulmer

Friday, August 8th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

City Under the Sea Kenneth Bulmer Ace-small City Under the Sea Kenneth Bulmer UK-small City Under the Sea Kenneth Bulmer Avon

As you may have noticed if you’ve been following my Vintage Treasures posts since I returned from the Windy City Pulp & Paper show, I’ve been time-traveling back to the early 1980s in my big green chair, courtesy of some newly acquired vintage magazines, paperbacks, and fanzines.

Al those ads, editorials, and reviews have rekindled an interest in the forgotten books of the era. I find myself browsing my library, shopping for titles from the early 80s. Last night, I picked up a handsome Avon paperback from January 1980, the very threshold of the decade, and settled back into my chair to try it out.

Of course, when I finally bothered to look at the copyright, I discovered that City Under the Sea wasn’t written in the 80s. It first appeared three decades earlier in 1957 as an Ace Double, back-to-back with Poul Anderson’s Star Ways, and it was reprinted multiple times in the intervening years.

Above is a sample of some of the various editions over the years (click for bigger versions). If I owned these editions, I wouldn’t be the clueless reader you see before you. This is why a huge paperback collection is so essential.

City Under the Sea Kenneth Bulmer-smallKenneth Bulmer was an astonishingly prolific writer. He published over 40 SF and fantasy novels in the two decades between 1952 and 1972, and an additional eight in the Keys to the Dimensions series.

Under the name Alan Burt Akers, he also wrote over 50 Dray Prescot novels and, under various names, dozens of novels in the Fox and Hook series.

Seriously, that’s a hell of a lot of books.

Here’s the back cover text of the 1980 Avon paperback edition of City Under the Sea. The cover is at right.

There’s More Than a Room Waiting at the Blue Deep Hotel

Space Commander Jeremy Dodge is on furlough on his way to the moon when he is summoned back to earth for a mysterious conference at the Blue Deep Hotel. Suddenly he finds himself in a treacherous underwater trap with beautiful, blonde Elise Tarrant as bait — caught in the snare of a vast sea exploitation scheme run by ruthless entrepreneurs in the aquiculture racket.

Longing for his home out among the stars, yet unable to forget the woman who has lured him to a life of underwater serfdom, Jeremy determines to find her and escape. Then one day he wakes from a drugged sleep to find fish swimming in and out of his prison cell and his own breathing apparatus removed. He has been given the operation that will banish him forever from the word he knows. He can no longer breathe air. He is a manfish.

While City Under the Sea enjoyed multiple reprintings, the 1980 Avon edition was its last.  It has been out of print for roughly the past 34 years. It was finally offered again — in digital format — by Gateway/Orion in 2011.

City Under the Sea was printed by Avon in January 1980. It is 173 pages, originally priced at $1.95. The cover is by Clyde Caldwell, who later became strongly associated with TSR and D&D. Personally, I think Caldwell nailed the cover — it’s a striking piece of work.

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.

5 Comments »

  1. Love the cover art on the Avon edition. I may have to hunt this one down. I recently read the first of the Dray Prescot books and enjoyed it.

    Comment by westkeith - August 8, 2014 5:14 pm

  2. Your Windy City Pulp and Paper posts finally inspired me to go a pulp convention here in my own city: Pulpfest 2014 (in conjunction with Farmercon IX–a convention in honor of sci-fi author PJF).

    I just got back this evening and man did I spend some money on some books. I was able to track down about twenty titles from the BAF line that I didn’t have AND a couple of more Del Rey Best ofs that I also hadn’t gotten yet.

    I’ve known about this con for a few years but I always thought that it was only focused upon pulp magazines from the 20s-50s; so I never went. Your posts about Windy City made me suspicious that other SF&F goodies might be available at Pulpfest as well.

    Sure enough, though pulp mags are the main thing, there was plenty more to enjoy. My bank account now suffers but my library is now the richer.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - August 8, 2014 11:41 pm

  3. > Love the cover art on the Avon edition.

    Keith,

    Yeah — isn’t it eyecatching? A much more intriguing rendition of an underwater civilization than the previous attempts, I think.

    > I recently read the first of the Dray Prescot books and enjoyed it.

    Another one of those series that I’m a little reluctant to start… there’s 53 of them! Only the first 37 were published by DAW… the next eight were only published in German translation! And after #45, it gets REALLY tough to track them down.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 10, 2014 11:44 am

  4. > Your Windy City Pulp and Paper posts finally inspired me to go a pulp convention here in my own city: Pulpfest 2014

    James,

    That’s fantastic! I’m so glad you supported a local con, and that you found so many fabulous treasures.

    It’s so easy to take these conventions for granted… but far too many of my favorite cons have died due to lack of support over the years. I’m really glad to hear my WINDY CITY articles inspired you to seek one out.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 10, 2014 11:47 am

  5. […] 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 […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Vintage Treasures: The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick / Sargasso of Space by Andre Norton - November 19, 2014 1:10 am


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