Back in September, I wrote a Vintage Treasures article about Clifford D. Simak’s Cemetery World. Simak is one of my favorite authors and much of his work — especially his early pulp fiction from the 30s and 40s — is tragically long out of print.
While I was researching the article, I discovered to my delight that Wildside Press had produced several slender volumes reprinting some of Simak’s pulp short stories, as part of the Wildside Pulp Classics line. I mentioned two: Hellhounds of the Cosmos and Other Tales From the Fourth Dimension and Impossible Things: 4 Classic Tales. As soon as I was done with the article, I ordered a copy of the former. The paperback edition was just $6.99 and it was hard to resist. It’s hardly the comprehensive Complete Short Stories I might wish for, but it did include the title story, a novelette from the June 1932 Astounding Stories that had been uncollected and out of print for nearly 80 years. And that was pretty cool.
When the book arrived, I was very pleased with it. It’s an oversized trade paperback with a glossy cover and quality paper. As I expected, it’s quite short — 142 pages — but it includes four complete tales, and the price is right. It also includes an (uncredited) introduction, as well as a nice review of Simak’s career and the themes common in his work.
Naturally, I went back on the hunt to see what else Wildside had produced in a similar vein. It wasn’t long before I found collections for Leigh Brackett (Black Amazon of Mars and Other Tales from the Pulps), Fredric Brown (Daymare and Other Tales from the Pulps), E. Hoffmann Price (Satan’s Daughter and Other Tales from the Pulps), H. Bedford-Jones (The House of Skulls and Other Tales from the Pulps), Ray Cummings (The Fire People: Classic Science Fiction from the Pulps), Murray Leinster (The Runaway Skyscraper and Other Tales from the Pulps), and many others. Most were priced from $10-$15 or less (much less, for the digital editions).
Expanding my search, I quickly discovered several other gems — including an inexpensive reprint of Robert Weinberg classic hardcover anthology Far Below And Other Horrors, originally published in a limited hardcover edition in 1974, now available in a handsome trade paperback for just $15.95.
Many of you are aware that Wildside has a fairly extensive pulp magazine reprint library — they’ve produced dozens of facsimile reprints of some of the most famous pulp magazines ever published, including Strange Tales, Weird Tales, Astounding Stories, Spicy Mystery, Black Mask, and others. Just like their short fiction collections, these are high-quality productions, with gorgeous cover reproductions and all the original artwork. These tend to be longer (150-250 pages), but still reasonably priced ($15-$20).
That’s a lot of pulp goodness. If you’re a fan of the pulps — or just curious what all the fuss it about — this is a great way to sample classic pulp fiction without having to pay premium prices. Or worrying about the magazine disintegrating in your hands.
There are some drawbacks to Wildside’s reprint strategy, however. Chief of which is that it seems to be pretty disorganized. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to what they’ve reprinted.
A fine example of this is the two Clifford D. Simak reprints I mentioned above: Hellhounds of the Cosmos and Other Tales From the Fourth Dimension (published 2011) and Impossible Things: 4 Classic Tales (2010). I ordered the former because it was less expensive ($6.99 vs $9.95), but both are still in print and available. You have to look very closely to realize that both contain the exact same four stories.
Why publish two collections less than 6 months apart, with different covers and titles, that have the exact same contents? Who knows? There are several possible explanations, but I suspect disorganization.
In any event, Wildside still gets top marks for a very impressive back catalog of pulp reprints of all varieties. If you’ve always wanted to sample classic pulp fantasy in an attractive and inexpensive package, now’s your chance.
We last covered Wildside Press with Adventure Tales #7, their irregularly published magazine of reprint pulp adventure stories. Also highly recommended, while we’re on the topic.