Vintage Treasures: Not Without Sorcery by Theodore Sturgeon

Vintage Treasures: Not Without Sorcery by Theodore Sturgeon

Not Without Sorcery 1961-small Not Without Sorcery-small

Theodore Sturgeon’s first short story collection was Without Sorcery, a handsome hardcover published in 1948 with an introduction by Ray Bradbury. As you can imagine, it’s a tough book to find these days, even for collectors.

The paperback edition, released 13 long years later, dropped five stories and the introduction, and was re-titled Not Without Sorcery. It became Sturgeon’s tenth collection and was released in two editions, from Ballantine (in 1961, with a rather drab cover by an unknown artist) and Del Rey (in 1975, with a far more interesting cover from artist Darrell K. Sweet.) 1975 was the last time the book saw a mass market edition; it remained out of print for 35 years, until Kessinger Publishing did a facsimile reprint edition in 2010.

Sturgeon was a Campbell writer through and through, and all eight stories in Not Without Sorcery appeared in the two pulp magazines John W. Campbell edited: Astounding Science Fiction, and its sister magazine Unknown Worlds. The stories were published over a two-year period, 1939-1941. I’ve assembled some of the original covers below, because I can never resist an excuse to showcase pulp magazines.

Astounding Science Fiction September 1939-small Astounding Science Fiction October 1940-small Astounding Science-Fiction March 1941-small

[Click any of the images for bigger versions.]

The eight tales in Not Without Sorcery include a mix of fantasy and science fiction, and several of Theodore Sturgeon’s most popular stories, including the classic horror tale “It” (from the August 1940 issue of Unknown), and both “Ether Breather” and its sequel, “Butyl and the Breather” (from Astounding).

Astounding Science Fiction June 1941-small Astounding Science Fiction October 1941-small Unknown Worlds December 1941-small

Here’s the blurb from the back of the 1975 paperback, with teasers for each of the stories.

Eight great tales of wonder, whimsy and weird events…

It was never born, but it lived. It was not alive, but it grew. It did not hate, but it killed…

Poker Face
Some men go pretty far for a night of cards with the boys. This one went thirty thousand years…

Artnan Process
There’s something funny about pulling a fast one on a Martian — if you can stay alive for the last laugh…

Ether Breather
TV or not TV is the question when the boob tube suddenly strikes back with some life of its own…

Butyl and the Breather
When men start pushing around something that doesn’t exist, the results are like nothing they’ve ever dreamed of…

What would anyone want with a baby who swore like a bandit, hustled like a scoundrel and demanded a rare steak every day?

Two Percent Inspiration
When a scientist is hell-bent on finding a wandering asteroid, he’d better be prepared to sweat… or die…

A lot of things can happen at sea, but when the captain has a mermaid in his quarters and the ship has a life of its own, that’s trouble — and only the beginning…

And here’s the complete table of contents.

Preface by Theodore Sturgeon
“It” (Unknown Fantasy Fiction, August 1940)
“Poker Face” (Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1941)
“Artnan Process” (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1939)
“Ether Breather” (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1939)
“Butyl and the Breather” (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1940)
“Brat” (Unknown Worlds, December 1941)
“Two Percent Inspiration” (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1941)
“Cargo” (Unknown Fantasy Fiction, November 1940)

Our most recent coverage of Theodore Sturgeon includes:

A Touch of Strange (1958)
Not Without Sorcery (1961)
Sturgeon in Orbit (1964)
Starshine (1966)
Sturgeon is Alive and Well… (1971)
To Here and the Easel (1973)
The Stars Are the Styx (1979)

Not Without Sorcery was published by Ballantine Books in June 1961, and reprinted in December 1975. The 1975 edition is 186 pages in paperback, priced at $1.50.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

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So: what were the 5 stories that were left out?


Thanks, John. I realized later I could’ve just gone to Amazon to see if they listed the original “Without Sorcery” — and they did, for less than I’d have thought.

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