I already had the Illustrated Zelazny volume, so I kept an eye out for this one:
Ellison, Harlan. The Illustrated Harlan Ellison. Baronet Publishing, 1978. First edition hardback, #2014 of 3000 signed, numbered copies, a Fine- copy with wear at tips, otherwise intact with inset color cover illustration still affixed and 3D glasses still attached in the middle, sans dust jacket, as issued. Bought off eBay for $24.99 (the opening bid).
Here’s a book I’ve looked for at a price I could afford for a while. Copies would show up online, but typically in the $300+ range.
Beukes, Lauren. Zoo City. Angry Robot, 2010. First hardback edition and first UK edition, one of 100 signed copies (the only hardback edition), a Fine copy in a Fine- dust jacket with a very slight wrinkle at rear heel join, otherwise new and unread. Preceded by the Jacana Media (South Africa) paperback edition. Bought off eBay for $99 (the opening bid).
And here’s the limitation statement on the bottom of the front dust jacket flap.
Here’s another beautiful Charnel House limited edition:
Ellison, Harlan. Coffin Nails. Charnel House, 2016. First edition oversized hardback, a Fine copy, #73 of 200 signed, numbered copies, sans dust jacket, as issued. The usual lavish Charnel House production, an attractive brown patterned (“crackle paper”) binding, with embossed silver nails spelling out “HE” on the front cover, and a giant silver nail on the spine. Features 25 uncollected Ellison stories from across his career.
This came in just before I sent out the latest Lame Excuse Book catalog went out. I still have one copy for sale if you want oneSOLD.
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.
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:
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.
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:
red gem coral Corallium sp.
postal reply coupon
vintage German glass taxidermy eyes
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.
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.
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.
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.
The book itself.
Inside the book.
And here’s Swanwick himself with an unboxing video:
Another signed Ray Bradbury first, one I’ve been patiently stalking for quite some time.
Bradbury, Ray. Death is a Lonely Business. Franklin Library, 1985. First edition hardback (precedes the Knopf trade edition, per the Locus database), a Fine copy in decorated leather boards, sans dust jacket, as issued. Signed by Bradbury. Mystery novel, the first of many, and his first new novel since The Halloween Tree. Bought for $34.95 off eBay.
I didn’t pick this up in the signed edition when it first came out, but I found it online cheap enough to be worth picking up.
Farmer, Philip Jose. The Other in the Mirror. Subterranean Press, 2009. First edition hardback, with a signed (but unnumbered) limitation page, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket and Fine slipcase. Omnibus edition of three novels (Fire in the Night, Jesus on Mars, and Night of Light), the first two of which were only published as paperback originals. Original price for the signed/numbered edition was $125. This supplements my trade edition, and all editions are now out of print from the publisher. Bought off eBay for $24.95 plus shipping.
PS Publishing had a sale, and I picked up three limited editions of things I already had the trade editions of.
Bradbury, Ray. Greentown Tinseltown. PS Publishing, 2012. First edition hardback, #29 of 50 copies signed by editor Donn Albright, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket and decorated boards. Trade state lacks the dust jacket and limitation page.
Lansdale, Joe R. Edge of Dark Water. PS Publishing, 2012. First edition hardback, #221 of 300 signed copies, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket and decorated boards and a Near Fine slipcase with a 1″ indention.
Lansdale, Joe R. Trapped in the Saturday Matinee. PS Publishing, 2012. First edition hardback, #157 of 200 signed copies, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket and decorated boards and a Fine slipcase.
This is one of the many things on my want list, since I always thought it was a neat little book, and I finally found a copy I could afford.
Asimov, Isaac. Three By Asimov. Targ Editions, 1981. First edition hardback, one of 250 signed copies, a Fine copy in a Near Fine- tissue paper dust jacket with a 7/8″ semi-closed tear on the top right front cover, with associated wrinkles (the white streaks at left and top are reflection glare from the dust jacket protector). All the pages seem to be made of hand-made paper with ragged edges. Bought for $107.79 off eBay.
William Targ was a former editor at Putnam who ran a one-man small press in his retirement. This and the Ray Bradbury book Beyond 1984 were, as far as I know, the only SF Targ Editions published.
When this cool novel/art assemblage was announced in 2007 at a price of $50 (I think it was listed at $65 on publication), I thought two things about it:
That’s cool, and I want one.
I don’t want to pay $50 (or $65) for it.
They were even offered at a slightly short discount for dealers, which is why I passed on it. When it came out in late 2008, neither I (nor anyone else) was buying much of anything, and I’m sure the lavish nature of the production helped contribute to Payseur & Schmidt’s demise.
Di Filippo, Paul (illustrated by Jim Woodrung). Cosmocopia. Payseur & Schmidt, 2008. First edition hardback, one of 500 copies with a band signed by Di Filippo and Jim Woodrung around the box, in a decorated cardboard box with a cardstock illustration and a Jigsaw puzzle, in the case as well as the book, sans dust jacket, as issued. Paul Di Filippo alerted me to the fact that Fantagraphics bookstore had copies on hand for Jim Woodrung’s signing there at $30 a pop and I managed to call and snag the last copy.
This is another book I bought in the Cold Tonnage 40% off sale.
Jones, Stephen and Newman, Kim. Horror: 100 Best Books. Xanadu Publications, Ltd., 1988. First edition hardback, #214 of 300 numbered copies signed by both the editors and almost every living one of the 100 (!) contributors, including Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Basil Copper, Karl Edward Wagner, Jack Williamson, etc. etc etc. (though not by Stephen King), a Fine copy in decorated boards, sans dust jacket, as issued. Bought for £30 off Cold Tonnage, marked down from £50.
I tried to take pictures of the signatures on the endpapers, with varying results. Click to embiggen:
I already had the trade edition, but the limited’s binding is quite different from the trade edition, as the picture below illustrates:
(Ignore the grid lines, which are a scanner artifact.)