Tag Archives: Eric Frank Russell

An Ode to the Ballantine Best of Series and Why We Need it More Than Ever

The original Star Wars came out when I was in elementary school, and it was a mind-warping experience.  I had come to science fiction and fantasy through comics, but it was the sense of wonder and excitement this movie generated that turned me from reading mystery books to reading science fiction books checked out from the school library.  As I read above grade level, I was soon searching out science fiction in the adult section of the public library and in book stores.  Like a second hand book store at the flea market.

This place sold second hand paperbacks for a quarter, IIRC.  The covers were stripped, which meant the books had been reported to the publishers as having been been pulped and the covers returned for credit.  In other words, they were technically stolen.  I didn’t know that then.  There were a number of titles I recognized, such as some H. P, Lovecraft.  I picked up The Best of Jack Williamson there, and later The Best of L. Sprague de Camp.

The Williamson volume started with stories from the 30s and went up to the 70s.  There was an introduction by Frederik Pohl and an afterward by Williamson.  This was the pattern of the series.  An introduction by an author or editor associated with the writer of the book, and if the author was still living (most were but not all) he or she contributed an afterward.  My mind was blown.  David Hartwell once said the golden age of science fiction is thirteen.  I was, and it was. Continue reading

Kuttner Unkollected

9630457No, that’s not a typo, it’s a deliberate misspelling.  It’s a weisenheimer attempt at alliteration.

About a decade ago, give or take a year, I had a little extra money from summer teaching.  So did I save the money or invest it wisely?  No, I didn’t.  I decided to try and obtain as many copies of Henry Kuttner stories that had never been reprinted at that time that I didn’t have, along with a few other unreprinted stories by people such as Eric Frank Russell.  Except for some copies of Weird Tales which were out of my price range, I managed to get most everything I didn’t have copies of.  Haffner Press has reprinted the Weird Tales material.  When pursuing a project like this, eBay is not your bank account’s friend an invaluable tool.   Continue reading