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Vintage Treasures: Unknown and Unknown Worlds, edited by Stanley Schmidt

Sunday, December 28th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Unknown edited by Stanley Schmidt Baen-smallI intended to post a brief article on Echoes of Valor II today, continuing the series as promised after I covered the first volume last week.

But the first comment on that article, from BG blogger Thomas Parker, was:

Isn’t it time for someone to do some anthologies from Unknown? (Have there been any since the old Pyramid paperbacks?)

Thomas is talking about two paperback anthologies edited by western author D.R. Bensen, The Unknown (1963) and its sequel The Unknown 5 (1964), which collected stories from Unknown magazine. I covered the 1978 Jove reprints of both books in a lengthy Vintage Treasures post last December.

I was pretty sure the answer was no — there haven’t been any other paperback anthologies collecting tales from Unknown. But before I could open my mouth, Keith West posted the following comment:

Baen published a collection of stories from Unknown entitled Unknown in 1988. It was edited by Stanley Schmidt with a Thomas Kidd cover and contained 9 stories…

Galahad Books, which is a British publisher IIRC, published a substantial hardback, also in 1988, entitled Unknown Worlds Tales from Beyond. It had a blah cover but contained 25 stories. I think I picked my copy up in either a Waldenbooks or a B. Dalton’s in the remainder bin…

Keith is exactly right. I put my notes on Echoes of Valor II aside for now, and went on a hunt to find out what I could about these two Unknown anthologies.

First, a brief recap on Unknown magazine.

Unknown — later re-titled Unknown Worlds — was an pulp published during World War II (from 1939 to 1943) by Street & Smith, who also published Astounding Science Fiction. It was edited by the legendary John W. Campbell, who drew many of his brightest stars from Astounding over to his new fantasy magazine, including Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. van Vogt, Jack Williamson, James H. Schmitz, L. Sprague de Camp, Cleve Cartmill, Fritz Leiber, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, and L. Ron Hubbard.

Unknown March 1939-small Unknown-August-1939-small Unknown magazine January 1940-small

Legend has it that Unknown was launched after Campbell received the manuscript for Eric Frank Russell’s now-classic dark fantasy Sinister Barrier and he realized he couldn’t publish it in Astounding. Campbell had been planning a sister magazine for Astounding for some time, and Sinister Barrier spurred him to action. The complete novel appeared in the first issue, cover dated March 1939 (above left). In October 1941, the magazine changed its title to Unknown Worlds.

When I began my search for the Unknown and Unknown Worlds volumes Keith mentioned, the first thing I discovered is that the Baen paperback and the Galahad hardcover were both published in 1988, and both were edited by Stanley Schmidt. It seemed pretty obvious to me that the Bean paperback was an abridged version of the larger hardcover, maybe dropping a few of the longer stories, and I hurried over to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database to confirm.

Wrong again. Aside from being published the same year, and having the same editor, and both being collections from Unknown Worlds magazine, they’re completely different books. Go figure.

Here’s the table of contents for the Baen paperback:

Introduction by Stanley Schmidt
“The Compleat Werewolf” by Anthony Boucher (1942)
“The Coppersmith” by Lester del Rey (1939)
“A God in a Garden” by Theodore Sturgeon (1939)
“Even the Angels” by Malcolm Jameson (1941)
“Smoke Ghost” by Fritz Leiber (1941)
“Nothing in the Rules” by L. Sprague de Camp (1939)
“A Good Knight’s Work” by Robert Bloch (1941)
“The Devil We Know” by Henry Kuttner (1941)
“The Angelic Angleworm” by Fredric Brown (1943)

Unknown Worlds Tales from Beyond-smallA few interesting things about this one. First, I expected it to contain only short stories and novelettes, but it does sneak in one long novella, Anthony Boucher’s “The Compleat Werewolf,” part of his Fergus O’Breen series, and the title story to Boucher’s famous 1969 collection The Compleat Werewolf (which we discussed earlier this month.)

The other interesting thing is the way Stan Schmidt is credited on the cover as “Editor of Astounding/ Analog.” Analog magazine hasn’t been called Astounding for over 50 years and certainly never during Schmidt’s tenure. Leave it to Baen, who’ve done good business reprinting Astounding fiction over the years, to play up the Astounding connection.

Schmidt isn’t credited at all on the cover of the Galahad volume. I only learned he was the editor from the book’s ISFDB entry, which lists the editors as Stanley Schmidt and Martin H. Greenberg.

Here’s the TOC for Unknown Worlds: Tales From Beyond. All the stories were originally published in Unknown magazine.

Introduction by Stanley Schmidt
“Trouble with Water” by H. L. Gold (1939)
“The Cloak” by Robert Bloch (1939)
“The Gnarly Man” by L. Sprague de Camp (1939)
“The Misguided Halo” by Henry Kuttner (1939)
“Two Sought Adventure” by Fritz Leiber (1939)
“When It Was Moonlight” by Manly Wade Wellman (1940)
“The Pipes of Pan” by Lester del Rey (1940)
“It” by Theodore Sturgeon (1940)
“Fruit of Knowledge” by C. L. Moore (1940)
“The Wheels of If” by L. Sprague de Camp (1940)
“The Bleak Shore” by Fritz Leiber (1940)
“They” by Robert A. Heinlein (1941)
“Armageddon” by Fredric Brown (1941)
“Mr. Jinx” by Fredric Brown and Robert Arthur (1941)
“A Gnome There Was” by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (1941)
“Hereafter, Inc.” by Lester del Rey (1941)
“Snulbug” by Anthony Boucher (1941)
“The Refugees” by Frank Belknap Long (1942)
“Hell Is Forever” by Alfred Bester (1942)
“The Hag Séleen” by Theodore Sturgeon and James H. Beard (1942)
“The Witch” by A. E. van Vogt (1943)
“Conscience, Ltd.” by Jack Williamson (1943)
“Greenface” by James H. Schmitz (1943)
“Hell Hath Fury” by Cleve Cartmill (1943)
“Blind Alley” by Malcolm Jameson (1943)

As you might expect, the hardcover anthology includes a lot more fiction (25 stories, versus nine for the Baen paperback), as well as longer stories, including three long novellas: L. Sprague de Camp’s “The Wheels of If,” “Hell Is Forever” by Alfred Bester, and “Hell Hath Fury” by Cleve Cartmill.

Planets of Adventure-smallWe’ve covered several pulp and classic SF/fantasy reprints from Baen over the past few years. Baen often focuses on fiction from Astounding, as I mentioned above. The books include:

Cthulhu: The Mythos and Kindred Horrors by Robert E. Howard (1987)
Unknown, edited by Stanley Schmidt (1988)
The Incompleat Nifft by Michael Shea (2000)
Agent of Vega by James H. Schmitz (2001)
Eternal Frontier by James H. Schmitz (2002)
Planets of Adventure by Murray Leinster (2003)
The Creatures of Man by Howard L. Myers(2003)
A Cosmic Christmas, edited by Hank Davis (2012)
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream, edited by Hank Davis (2013)
The Baen Big Book of Monsters, edited by Hank Davis (2014)

Unknown was edited by Stanley Schmidt and published Baen books in October 1988. It is 304 pages in paperback, originally priced at $3.50. The cover is by Thomas Kidd. New copies are still available; several Amazon sellers have new copies for under $4.

Unknown Worlds: Tales from Beyond was edited by Stanley Schmidt and Martin H. Greenberg, published by Galahad Books in 1988. It is 527 pages in hardcover, priced at $9.98 in hardcover. Copies are generally available for around the same price today. There’s a seller on eBay with multiple copies, selling them for $3.89 (including shipping) — but act fast, as they have only a few left.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, John. I didn’t realize Schmidt had edited the Galahad volume. And I’m glad there are copies of both books available.

    I’ll agree with Thomas again. Someone should do an anthology of stories from UNKNOWN. It’s one of the pulps I try to collect when I have some spare cash. I think the quality of the stories was better than what WEIRD TALES was publishing at the time. There are some good tales that haven’t been reprinted much, if at all, that deserved to be introduced to a wider audience.

    Oh, and I heard years ago that the story about Campbell launching the magazine because of Eric Frank Russell is apocryphal. I don’t know if it is or not, but it’s a good story nonetheless.

    Comment by westkeith - December 29, 2014 1:04 pm


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