Archive for August, 2016

Bold Statements from Barry Malzberg

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

I missed it when it was originally up, but I thought this provocative Barry Malzberg essay on Judith Merril originally in Galaxy’s Edge (and now available through the wayback machine) was worth quoting:

A decent writer and a highly intelligent person, she did the field more damage than Raymond Palmer or Roger Corman, Ed Earl Repp or Ed Wood. The field certainly survived, it had demonstrated the pre-Lucas capacity to survive anything, but it was irreversibly damaged.

It was irreversibly damaged because Merril’s influence in those years was great, and she was on a methodical, hardly understated campaign to tear down the walls and destroy the category. As a failed mainstream writer who had essentially been rescued by her friends Theodore Sturgeon and Philip J. Klass, and pointed toward commercial writing, Merril was determined to find another way into the mainstream. And if that involved rupturing or destroying science fiction, well, that would be collateral damage.

I don’t know enough about Merril to comment. But love him or hate him, Malzberg has always been a provocative and informed critic of the field. And his opinions are a regular feature of Galaxy’s Edge.

You might consider subscribing.

Library Additions: Two Inscribed Michael Moorcock Firsts

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Two more books from the Cold Tonnage 40% off sale, both Michael Moorcock first editions, both inscribed, one an associational copy:

  • Moorcock, Michael. The Birds of the Moon: A Travellers’ Tale. Jayde Design/Nomads of the Time Streams, 1995. First edition chapbook original, a Fine copy. Signed by Moorcock: “Dave/—/Written for the/hippy issue of New Statesman/that never happened./Mike”. £15 pounds after discount.

    Birds Moon

    Birds Moon sig

  • Moorcock, Michael. Breakfast in the Ruins: A Novel of Inhumanity. New English Library, 1972. First edition hardback (as per Currey, page 368), a Fine- copy with the age darkening of pages all too common for NEL books of this era, in a Fine- dust jacket with slight wear at points. Inscribed by Moorcock to fellow science fiction writer Keith Roberts: “For Keith/with very best/wishes./Mike.” Tanelorn Archives, page 11. Of the several first editions inscribed by Moorcock to Roberts Cold Tonnage had, this was both the most affordable and a title by Moorcock I didn’t already have. £24 after discount.

    Breakfast Ruins

    Breakfast Ruins Sig

  • Library Addition: Signed First Edition of Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

    Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

    The very same day that I bought a bunch of books from the Fred Duarte estate, Cold Tonnage books in the UK had their annual 40% off sale. (As an added bonus, the post-Brexit exchange rate was quite favorable as well.) Here’s the first item from that sale.

    Bradbury, Ray. The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. Hart-Davis MacGibbon, 1973. First hardback edition, a Fine copy in a Near Fine, corner-clipped (but otherwise fine) dust jacket. (Sadly, corner-slipped copies seem the norm for this title.) Signed by Bradbury. Collection of plays. Bought for £45 after discount.

    Ice Cream Suit


    Library Addition: 1 of 13 Copies of Michael Swanwick’s Universe Box

    Monday, August 15th, 2016

    This is a case of not only what you know, but who you know and when you know it.

    I know Michael Swanwick and I’m a Dragonstairs Press regular, carrying their chapbooks through Lame Excuse Books. For a while now I’ve heard both Michael and his wife/Dragonstairs proprietor Marianne Porter talk about the Universe Box project, which was not only going to be an ultra-limited edition book, but also a weirdo art assemblage/fetish object.

    They finally announced the details on August 3: at precisely noon EDT (11 AM CDT) on Saturday, August 6, 2016, they would be offering up 10 Universe Boxes (out of a total run of 13) on a first come, first serve basis on the Dragonstairs website. Which is how I came to be sitting at my computer, hitting the refresh button on the Dragonstair Press page, until the purchase button finally appeared right after the appointed time. I was evidently the first person to snag one, and all 10 copies sold out in three and a half minutes.

    Here’s the Dragonstair description:

    Universe Boxes is a collaborative project by Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter. The boxes were assembled over several years by Porter, and the novelette was written by Swanwick.

    The project has four distinct elements:

    The Box

    Each box is an actual cigar box, lined with astronomical charts and photomoechanicals of paleontological art. (Please note: the boxes have been carefully cleaned, bicarbonate of soda-ed, aired out, and Febreezed, but they originally held real tobacco.)

    The exterior of each box has a Dragonstairs Press return address sticker and appropriate rubber-stamp-canceled postage for the item to go through the mail. (Out of concern for the contents, the Universe Boxes will be padded and shipped in larger boxes.) When each is sold, an address sticker with its purchaser’s name and address will be added. The whole will then be tied up with string.

    The Contents

    A variety of objects have been included in each. Every box has a hand-bound signed copy of Universe Box by Michael Swanwick and a vaccine created by Marianne Porter (more on these below).

    Contents of one box, identified as Coma Bernices/Pleistocene include:

    glass beads
    vacuum tube
    red gem coral Corallium sp.
    sectioned geode
    postal reply coupon
    vintage German glass taxidermy eyes
    winged pin
    calling cards

    Plus, of course, the vaccine and book. Some of the above items are common to all boxes but most are not. The contents of each box are unique to it.

    Packing material consists of early drafts of the included story, run through a shredder.

    The Story

    Universe Box is a previously-unpublished 10,500 word fantasy dealing with cosmic powers, giraffe wranglers, the purpose of existence, and the most boring young man in all the universe. Physically, it is a stab-bound book with decorative paper covers, roughly six inches by four inches, issued in an edition of thirteen plus one printer’s proof. The books are all autographed by Michael Swanwick and a contents list is autographed by both the author and the publisher.

    The Vaccine

    One vaccine is included per box. These are individual works of art by Marianne Porter, consisting of a glass serum bottle (2 cm x 4.5 cm) filled with specifics “against what ails you.” The bottle is sealed with a rubber stopper and topped with a crimped aluminum cap. It can be opened, but once opened cannot be resealed. The contents of each vaccine are unique to it. The one included in Coma Bernices/Pleistocene, for example, contains human hair, an agate bead, and wire.

    The vaccines are part of a larger series, none of which have previously been made available for purchase.

    And here’s my listing for it:

    Swanwick, Michael and Marianne Porter. Universe Box. Dragonstairs Press, 2016. First edition “hardback” (oblong stiff stab-bound/side-sewn boards, no spine binding, with bead), a Fine copy, sans dust jacket, as issued, in a Fine decorated traycase (i.e., an old cigar box) with several art assemblage pieces included, one of only 13 copies (of which only 10 were available for sale), of which this particular copy (the first one sold) is labeled “Draco/Recent.” Art objects included in the particular box include:

  • A bottled “vaccine” consisting of opossum teeth.
  • A shark tooth
  • A vacuum tube
  • A thin slice of mica, encased between two pieces of blue construction paper in a small black velvet pouch
  • Vintage German glass taxidermy eyes
  • A piece of red gem coral Corallium
  • A jade button
  • A postal reply coupon, originally from Germany
  • Five beads (three orange, two pink) bound together with an orange string
  • 7 calling cards, tied with a gray string, encased in another black velvet pouch.
  • An inventory sheet for the box signed by both Swanwick and Porter.
  • Packing material made from shredded early drafts of the story.
  • Other things listed on the sheet are pasted to the inside surfaces of the box.

    Universe Box Outside

    Outside of the box, address blurred out. Since the box came with the purchaser’s name and addressed affixed to the box with a label, I guess future librarians will officially refer to this as the “Codex Person” copy…


    Universe Box opened.


    With the content spread out to photograph.


    A closer look at the objects included.


    With the included cards spread out.


    Everything again, with cards spread out.

    Universe Box Book

    The book itself.


    Inside the book.

    And here’s Swanwick himself with an unboxing video:

    Shoegazer Sunday: Slowdive and Brian Eno’s “AB”

    Sunday, August 14th, 2016

    Yet another unreleased Slowdive track. I thought I posted this years ago, but evidently not. It’s found on the I Saw the Sun compilation of unreleased Slowdive songs (not available in your local record story).

    It’s slight, pleasant, and memorable.

    There’s either three whole albums of unreleased Slowdive music out there, or one great album…

    Library Addition: Two More Books

    Friday, August 12th, 2016

    The final two books I bought from Fred Duarte’s library, at around $10 each:

  • Ortved, Douglas. The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Faber & Faber, 2009. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Non-fiction guide to the animated TV show.
  • Simmons, Dan. Hard as Nails. St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2003. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Third Joe Kurtz hardboiled mystery. I really enjoyed the first two, I just never chanced across a cheap copy of the third until now.
  • Not included: The many DVDs I picked up at $1 a disc from Fred’s estate, nor the odd item I picked up at the recent Armadillocon I’ll be listing later.

    Meanwhile, I have two huge book buys (that just happened to happen the same day I picked up Fred’s books) I need to catalog. So the pig is maybe 1/3rd of the way down the python…

    Library Additions: Three Signed First Editions

    Thursday, August 11th, 2016

    Three more signed first editions from the Fred Duarte estate:

  • Barry, Dave. Dave Barry Slept Here. Random House, 1989. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Inscribed to Fred by the author. Humor.


  • Delany, Samuel R. The Complete Nebula Award-Winning Fiction. Bantam Spectra, 1986. First edition paperback original, a Fine- copy with slight touches of wear. Inscribed and dated (“Austin 88,” when Delany came to town to attend Sercon 2) by the author to Fred.


  • Lansdale, Joe R. The Drive-In 2 (Not Just One of Them Sequels). Bantam Spectra, 1989. First edition paperback original, a Fine- copy with a tiny bit of wear along the spine. Inscribed by Lansdale: “For/Karen/Meschke/(Her Ownself)/Joe R. Lansdale/(His Ownself).” I already had the Kinnell first hardback of this inscribed to me by Joe, but just never picked up this PBO.
  • Hana Maria covering Nine Inch Nails “Closer”

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

    In order to provide a break from the relentless book cataloging, here’s a fun acoustic cover of Nine Inch Nail’s Closer by Hana Maria (who seems to record under the name Hana Piranha). Song is NSFW, just like the original.

    Library Additions: Two Signed Alexander Jablokov Firsts

    Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

    Two more from the Fred Duarte estate:

  • Jablokov, Alexander. Brain Thief. Tor, 2009. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Inscribed by the author: “2/13/10/To Fred—/It’s been a long time! I hope/you enjoy this./Alex Jablokov”


  • Jablokov, Alexander. Deep Drive. Avon Eos, 1998. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Inscribed by the author: “2/19/00/To Fred—/Thanks for everything./Alex Jablokov.” Note that this was part of an Eo launch with all the books being a much smaller trim size than normal (16mo, if I’m not mistaken), and I get the impression this format wasn’t popular with book buyers.
  • Library Addition: Signed PBO of Aaron Allston’s Sidhe Devil

    Monday, August 8th, 2016

    Since I already had a signed first of Doc Sidhe, I picked up this signed copy of the sequel from the Fred Duarte Estate.

    Allston, Aaron. Sidhe Devil. Baen, 2001. First edition paperback original, a Fine copy with some foxing to inside covers. Signed and dated by Allston.