A Wonderful Picture of a Far-flung Community of Writers: Quark, edited by Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker

A Wonderful Picture of a Far-flung Community of Writers: Quark, edited by Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker

The 4-volume Quark anthology series, edited by Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker
(Paperback Library, 1970-71). Covers by Russell FitzGerald, Ira Cohen, Roger Penney, and Martin Last

These four volumes of Quark came out in 1970-71. The publisher killed the Quark enterprise after a year mainly because they weren’t selling, but also because of a really ill-thought-out review that Ed Bryant, who had a story in the first issue, wrote about the journal, in which he praised Marilyn and me, but went on and on about what a schlock publisher Paperback Library was.

Ed eventually submitted a novel to Paperback Library, and I happened to be in the office just after it came in. Cathy, our editor showed me his cover letter and read me her rejection note. His letter began, “You probably never heard of me, but I am an SF writer and . . .” Her answer back started off:

Dear Mr. Bryant,

You sell yourself short. I’m very much aware of who you are. What I don’t understand is why you hope to be published by a publisher you consider . . .”

and a), b), c) and d) she quoted back to him all the scurrilous things he had written about Paperback Library in his review. I felt sorry for Ed. He’d been my student at Clarion a few years before. But Ed’s was the review that made the publisher, Hy Steerman, decide that he couldn’t win for losing, and scuttled the paperback journal after the fourth issue.

The four covers were, in order, by Russell FitzGerald, Ira Cohen (photographer; but to my mind the least successful), Roger Penny, and Martin Last. I still believe Marilyn chose some amazingly good stories for the magazine. My editorials have all been reprinted — but I would love to see somebody put all the stories — and the art work — into an anthology. I think it’s a wonderful picture of a certain far-flung community of writers, stretching from California, to New York, to England.

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Eugene R.

I remember the Quark paperbacks from my hometown public library, back in the day. Because the library had them, I never picked them up myself. Fool!

John ONeill

They’re pretty hard to find these days.

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