Browsed by
Category: Vintage Treasures

Vintage Treasures: Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction 1: Intergalactic Empires edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh

Vintage Treasures: Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction 1: Intergalactic Empires edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh


Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction 1: Intergalactic Empires (Signet, December 1983). Cover by Paul Alexander

Last year, while I was researching an article on Asimov’s industry-changing success as a science fiction anthologist, I came across some amazing stats. Here’s the summary:

The Internet Science Fiction database lists nearly 200 anthologies with Asimov’s name on them, averaging around seven per year between 1963 and his death in 1992… the vast majority were produced in partnership with a team of editors, especially Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. In the early days Asimov compiled anthologies the old-fashioned way: by himself. It was the enduring, decades-long success of those books that paved the way for the massive literary-industrial complex to spring up around Asimov in the 80s and 90s.

Ha! That ‘literary-industrial complex’ line still busts me up. But the really interesting thing to come out of all that research was an obsession to track down all ten volumes in Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction, starting with Volume 1, Intergalactic Empires. In the process I also managed to find the last surviving editor of the series, Charles G. Waugh, who proved a fascinating correspondent.

Read More Read More

An Anthology for Anthologists: Continuum by Roger Elwood

An Anthology for Anthologists: Continuum by Roger Elwood


Continuum 1-4 (Berkley Medallion paperback editions, 1975-76). Covers by Vincent Di Fate

The accolade “anthologist” is not easily obtained. One can only imagine the effort spent splicing different elements into a cohesive anthology that sits well, and with a theme that attracts buyers.

Roger Elwood (1943-2007) most definitely earned that title, having put together 64 mostly science fiction anthologies between 1964 and 1980. Like many of his peers, he was also an author who published a small number of fiction novels and short stories, not to mention editing the short-lived Odyssey magazine (1976).

This article is not a celebration of Mr. Elwood’s career, though. I want to look at an intriguing oddity from the the past century, a 4-volume anthology series he edited titled Continuum.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: Tales of Robin Hood by Clayton Emery

Vintage Treasures: Tales of Robin Hood by Clayton Emery


Tales of Robin Hood (Baen, 1988). Cover by Larry Elmore

I’m a sucker for Robin Hood stories, and that’s probably why I bought Clayton Emery’s Tales of Robin Hood in 1988. Well, that and the fact that I thought it was an anthology. It’s actually a novel, a magical take on the legend of Sherwood Forest, with witches, demon boars, black-robed monks, and a Robin “attacked on all sides by sorcery and sword.”

Clayton Emery had a steady career as a TSR author in the late 90s, producing a series of Forgotten Realms books including the Netheril Trilogy (1996-98) and the third novel in the Lost Empires series, Star of Cursrah (1999), plus six Magic: The Gathering titles, including the Legends Cycle (2001-2). Tales of Robin Hood was originally published as a paperback by Baen and pretty much vanished without a trace, until iUniverse reprinted it in 2002 under the title Robin Hood and the Beasts of Sherwood. It caught on with modern readers in the new incarnation, and was warmly reviewed by a new generation of readers.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: The City of the Singing Flame by Clark Ashton Smith

Vintage Treasures: The City of the Singing Flame by Clark Ashton Smith


The City of the Singing Flame (Timescape, 1981). Cover by Rowena Morrill

We’ve written a lot about Clark Ashton Smith at Black Gate. Like, a lot. Over two dozen articles over the last decade or so by my count, by many of our top writers, including Brian Murphy, Matthew David Surridge, Fletcher Vredenburgh, Thomas Parker, James Maliszewski, M Harold Page, Steven H Silver, John R. Fultz — and especially Ryan Harvey, who’s penned a third of our coverage all on his own.

I’m not an expert on Smith — far from it. Although he published in the pulp magazines I was obsessed with as a teen, I didn’t discover him until relatively late. He had no novels to his name, and was virtually ignored by the editors who assembled the ubiquitous science fiction anthologies I devoured in my youth (I know Isaac Asimov, whose name was on every second anthology I read, strongly disliked Smith’s work, and that was pretty much the kiss of death for SF writers in the 80s).

It wasn’t until David Hartwell, editor of the ambitious Timescape imprint at Pocket Books, reprinted much of Smith’s back catalog in a trio of handsome paperbacks that I corrected this injustice. And specifically, it wasn’t until I laid eyes on Rowena Morrill’s beautiful cover for The City of the Singing Flame in 1981 that I was finally introduced to the rich and fascinating work of Clark Ashton Smith.

Read More Read More

Elven Phantoms, Children of the Corn, and Kane: DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI (1978), Edited by Gerald W. Page

Elven Phantoms, Children of the Corn, and Kane: DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI (1978), Edited by Gerald W. Page


The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI (DAW, 1978). Cover by Michael Whelan

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI, published in 1978, was the third volume in the series edited by horror author and editor Gerald W. Page (1939–). Michael Whelan (1950–) appears for the fourth time in a row on the cover, though with a very different style from his previous efforts. Where Whelan’s covers usually have a big surreal background, this one is more muted and draws your eyes to the foreground. It’s fairly creepy, but not one of my favorite Whelan horror pieces.

In comparison with the series’ first British editor, Richard Davis, Gerald Page tend to focus on American authors, almost all men. There are three women in this volume: Janet Fox, Tanith Lee, and Lisa Tuttle, and a total of three Brits: Ramsey Campbell, David Campton, and Tanith Lee. 

Series VI includes fourteen stories, only one from a professional magazine; three came from books, four from fanzines, but six stories were original to this volume. Six! Almost half of the stories in an anthology called Year’s Best were not published previously. Defending another editor in a different context John O’Neill recently said, it’s “entirely the editor’s call.” But doesn’t Year’s Best imply more than simply the editor’s own particular choices? Maybe not. And perhaps it doesn’t matter if the collected stories are indeed that good.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: Galactic Empires, Volumes One & Two, edited by Brian Aldiss

Vintage Treasures: Galactic Empires, Volumes One & Two, edited by Brian Aldiss

Galactic Empires Volume Two (Avon, 1979). Cover by Alex Ebel

It’s the Christmas break, I finally have some serious reading time, and I know I should be trying some recent stuff. There are many promising new authors I’ve been looking forward to sampling, and I’m reasonably sure I even made a resolution or two in that direction a while back.

But here I am enjoying some old Brian Aldiss anthologies, and I don’t even have the decency to feel guilty. I’ve wanted to read these books for a while — somewhere around 40 years, give or take — and that’s a long time to be staring longingly at them on my bookshelf.

The titles in question are Galactic Empires, Volumes One and Two, both published in 1979, a fine curation of classic science fiction. They’re the second and third books in a very handsome four-book set of SF anthologies reprinted in paperback by Avon, with gorgeous wraparound covers by legendary artist Alex Ebel (best known for his classic Ursula K. Le Guin covers, including The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed). The other two anthologies include Evil Earths (1978) and Perilous Planets (1980).

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: Modern Classics of Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois

Vintage Treasures: Modern Classics of Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois

Modern Classics of Science Fiction (St. Martin’s Press, 1992). Jacket illustration courtesy of NASA

Back in October I wrote about Gardner Dozois’ 1994 anthology Modern Classic Short Novels of Science Fiction, saying it was one of my favorite fall reads. I noted at the time that it was part of a trilogy of books Gardner did for St. Martin’s that also included Modern Classics of Fantasy (1997), which I called “a book that makes you yearn to be stranded on a desert island.” But I’ve never discussed its sister volume, and first in the sequence, Modern Classics of Science Fiction (1992), and so today I thought I’d correct that egregious oversight.

Modern Classics of Science Fiction is a fabulous collection. Like the books that followed, it’s an eclectic and personal volume, filled not with the most famous and acclaimed short science fiction, but instead Gardner’s highly personal selection of some of the best SF of the 20th Century. It includes 26 stories published between 1956 and 1989, by Theodore Sturgeon, Richard McKenna, Jack Vance, Edgar Pangborn, Roger Zelazny, R. A. Lafferty, Samuel R. Delany, Brian W. Aldiss, Gene Wolfe, James Tiptree, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Howard Waldrop, Lucius Shepard, Michael Swanwick, and many more.

Read More Read More

The Harp and The Blade: A Bard’s Adventures in Old France

The Harp and The Blade: A Bard’s Adventures in Old France

Belarski cover for ARGOSY, June 22, 1940 issue, featuring Part One of “The Harp and the Blade.”The first printing of John Meyers Meyers’ The Harp and the Blade was serialized in seven parts in the pulp magazine Argosy from June through early August of 1940. Although the Rudolph Belarski painting on the cover of the June 22 issue might suggest that The Harp and the Blade is a fantasy, it is not. It is instead a straight adventure story set in medieval France.

What makes this story really interesting is its feeling of reality and the aliveness of the characters. We do not observe the story as if a Hollywood piece, at a comfortable distance from the action. Nor do we wallow in the filth, fleas, and mud. We are shown the reality of battle, the value of a laugh with friends, the necessity of a drink, and the delight of a kiss from one’s wife. The characters’ values are also of paramount importance, with clear demarcations made between good and bad. When there is a case of muddy morals, there is also a rationale, which may not be to our liking, but which makes sense for the characters involved.

The question is never asked — what makes life worth living? Instead, we are shown the answer in the simple things that the hero wants and that his blood-brother already has. This is a man’s tale, not grandiose, but heartfelt and homey as brown bread and good ale.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: The Best of Robert Silverberg

Vintage Treasures: The Best of Robert Silverberg


The Best of Robert Silverberg
(Pocket Books, February 1976). Cover by Alan Magee

Recently James McGlothlin wrapped up an ambitious multi-year review project at Black Gate, reading each of the 23 volumes in Del Rey’s Classic Science Fiction Series from the 70s, including The Best of Fritz Leiber, Edmond Hamilton, John Brunner, Philip K. Dick, C.L. Moore, Robert Bloch, and over a dozen others. Over the years many of our contributors have shared their love for these seminal volumes, including Ryan Harvey, Jason McGregor, and others.

Del Rey wasn’t the only publisher to pick up on the idea of promoting authors in their catalog with Best of volumes, however. Between 1976 and 1980 Pocket Books produced nearly a dozen weightily collections showcasing their own impressive stable of SF authors, including Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, Harry Harrison, John Sladek, Keith Laumer, Damon Knight, Barry N. Malzberg, Mack Reynolds, and Walter M. Miller. Pocket (and others) did a splendid job keeping these fine books in print over the years, sometimes freshening up the covers in the process.

One of my favorites in the set is The Best of Robert Silverberg (1976), published no less than half a dozen times over the next decade by five different publishers. It’s a terrific volume that’s still easy to find to today.

Read More Read More

Vintage Treasures: High Tension by Dean Ing

Vintage Treasures: High Tension by Dean Ing


High Tension (Ace Books, 1982). Cover by Walter Velez

Dean Ing was a staple in James Baen’s paperback magazines of the late seventies, Destinies (eleven volumes from Ace Books, 1978-1981) and the copycat series Baen kicked off after he left Ace to found Baen Books, Far Frontiers (seven issues, 1985-86). I also saw Ing’s name semi-regularly in Analog and OMNI around the same time. He produced four collections: Anasazi (1980), a set of three connected tales of first contact with a group of surprisingly violent aliens stranded in west Texas in near future 1996; High Tension (1982); Firefight 2000 (1987), later re-released in 2000 as Firefight Y2K, in an attempt to stay cool; and the linked story cycle The Rackham Files (2004).

Ing was an academic with a military background, and that was definitely reflected in his fiction. He served as an interceptor crew chief in the United States Air Force, and he became an aerospace engineer, and eventually a university professor with a doctorate in communications theory. His fiction captured a lot of the public anxieties towards rapidly-advancing technology, especially weapons tech, including his 1989 New York Times bestseller, The Ransom of Black Stealth One.

Read More Read More