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Vintage Treasures: A Sense of Wonder, edited by Sam Moskowitz

Sunday, July 30th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

A Sense of Wonder John Wyndham-small A Sense of Wonder John Wyndham-back-small

Here’s a great example of the kind of book I miss most in today’s market: A Sense of Wonder, a three-novella anthology published in 1967, and reprinted in paperback multiple times in the UK by New English Library.

Why do I miss it? Because it collects three classic pulp tales from three famous pulp authors, and it introduced new readers to the great writers of the pulps in a handsome and inexpensive format. It’s exactly the kind of impulse purchase I would have snatched off the racks in 1987, the year the edition above was released.

Mass market anthologies are virtually gone from today’s shelves — and especially anthologies that showcase authors like John Wyndham, Murray Leinster, and Jack Williamson.

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

Well, that’s okay. Thus is not a rare book, so you can still make an impulse buy out of it, as I did recently. You just have it do it on eBay, where it’s likely to cost you (depending on condition) roughly as much as a new paperback.

A Sense of Wonder contains three short novels (really, a novelette by John Wyndham, and  novellas by Muray Leinster and Jack Williamson) that originally appeared in American pulp magazines between 1932 and 1934. It has an introduction by the great pulp anthologist Sam Moskowitz. Here’s the TOC.

Introduction by Sam Moskowitz
“Exiles on Asperus,” John Wyndham (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Winter 1933)
“The Mole Pirate,” Murray Leinster (Astounding Stories, November 1934)
“The Moon Era,” Jack Williamson (Wonder Stories, February 1932)

Here’s the original magazine appearances.

Wonder Stories Quarterly Winter 1933-small Astounding Stories November 1934-small Wonder Stories February 1932-small

The covers above are by (left to right) Frank R. Paul, Howard V. Brown, and Paul again.

If you’re shopping for this book, you have your pick of terrific covers. The edition above has a cover by Peter Elson, here’s two additional covers, by the great Bruce Pennington (date unknown) and David A. Hardy (1974).

A Sense of Wonder Bruce Pennington A Sense of Wonder David A Hardy

Oddly, while I count no less than six UK editions, it was never reprinted in the US.

The 1987 edition above was the final paperback edition, it’s also the only one to showcase Wyndham at the expense of the other two authors. Wyndham, author of The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Chrysalids (1955) was the only bestselling author in the bunch, and he was particularly popular in Britain.

A Sense of Wonder was published in hardcover by Sidgwick & Jackson, and reprinted in paperback in five separate editions between 1969-1987. The edition at top is 175 pages, priced at £0.60; it appeared in August 1987. The cover is by Peter Elson. It is out of print, and there is no digital edition.

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

2 Comments »

  1. I would be hard pressed to chose a specific edition John. All of them look so appealing.

    Some armchair hypothesise here. Penguin books republished Triffids, Cuckoos, Chrysalids and Kraken inter alia in 1987, so the prelevance of John Wyndham in the 1987 volume showcased here could be marketing or timing related?

    Comment by Tony Den - August 1, 2017 2:16 am

  2. Hmmm…. not a bad hypothesis, Tony. I know Del Rey did something similar with his BEST OF series, showcasing Del Rey authors.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 1, 2017 1:52 pm


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