Cover artist unknown (which is kinda tragic)
And so my quest to write up all the interesting science fiction anthologies of the 20th Century brings us to The Space Magicians.
This is kind of an oddball anthology. Yes, it has a theme. (That theme is not space magicians.) The idea appears to be a collection of rare and hard-to-find science fiction tales by “science fiction’s major talents… each one a masterpiece in its own right,” and each of which has never been reprinted in paperback before.
The result is an eclectic mix of pulp tales by, yes, seven major SF writers: John Wyndham, Henry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov, Clifford D. Simak, Eric Frank Russell, Robert Bloch, and Robert W. Chambers. The stories within originally appeared between 1899 and 1953, in Wonder Stories, Super Science Stories, Astonishing Stories, Science-Fiction Plus, Universe Science Fiction, and other fine venues. They include the first reprint of Asimov’s “Half-Breed,” written when he was 19 years old, and Robert W. Chambers science fiction story “In Search of the Unknown.”
The stories are packaged in a 206-page paperback with a gonzo wraparound cover featuring cartoon characters on a gloriously colorful alien landscape. The artist, tragically, is unknown. The editors offer a chatty two-page introduction in which they wonder aloud why none of these stories have been reprinted, and tell us a bit about each one to whet our appetite. Here’s the complete intro.
[Click the images for Space-sized versions.]
And here’s the Table of Contents.
Introduction by Sam Moskowitz and Alden H. Norton
“The Venus Adventure” by John Wyndham (Wonder Stories, May 1932)
“The Black Sun Rises” by Henry Kuttner (Super Science Stories, June 1944)
“Half-Breed” by Isaac Asimov (Astonishing Stories, February 1940)
“The Call from Beyond” by Clifford D. Simak (Super Science Stories, May 1950)
“Bitter End” by Eric Frank Russell (Science-Fiction Plus, December 1953)
“Constant Reader” by Robert Bloch (Universe Science Fiction, Jun 1953)
“In Search of the Unknown” by Robert W. Chambers (Ainslee’s Magazine, August 1899)
The great Bill Crider, who passed away in 2017, didn’t think much of The Space Magicians in his online review, saying:
The Space Magicians is more of a curiosity than a great anthology. I like the wraparound cover, which also has no more to do with the contents than the title does.
He’s not wrong about the cover.
Alden H. Norton, a noted anthologist in his own right, co-edited a total of four books with Moskowitz, including Ghostly By Gaslight (1971) and Horrors in Hiding (1973), which we covered here.
Our previous coverage of books by Sam Moskowitz includes:
Sam Moskowitz’s Classics of Science Fiction
A Sense of Wonder, edited by Sam Moskowitz
Invading Aliens and Self-Aware Submarines: The Human Zero, Edited by Sam Moskowitz & Roger Elwood, reviewed by by William I. Lengeman III
Under the Moons of Mars, edited by Sam Moskowitz
Horrors in Hiding edited by Sam Moskowitz with Alden H. Norton
Horrors Unseen, edited by Sam Moskowitz
Horrors Unknown, edited by Sam Moskowitz
The Space Magicians was published by Pyramid Books in January 1971. It is 206 pages, priced at 75 cents. It has never been reprinted, and there is no digital edition. The cover artist is unknown.
See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.