Posts Tagged ‘L. W. Currey’

Lawrence Person’s Library: Reference Books (Part 1)

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I haven’t posted much the last week because I’ve been busy doing this and that, and one of the things I’ve been busy with is a long-overdue cleanup of my office, including doing something about those Nova Express review copies cluttering it up. Now that I’ve finally finished moving books around, and gotten a new camera (a Kodak Slice) to replace the one that died, I thought I would put up some long-overdue pictures of the books in my office, starting with the reference shelf right next to my computer, which contains the reference works I tend to reach for most often.

(Click to embiggen.)

Going left to right (left being the side closest to the computer, and thus the books I reach for most often) are:

  • Currey, L.W. Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction. G. K. Hall, 1978. The bible of the field, and absolutely essential for any serious collector of science fiction first editions. Only goes up to 1978. For dates after 1983, you can use The Locus Online Database. Currey also sells a slightly updated CD-ROM version, which still only goes up to 1978. (Now if only someone would compile a book that covers 1979-1983…)
  • Chalker, Jack & Owings, Mark. The Science Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History. Mirage Press, 1991 (“Third Edition Revised and Enlarged”). If you’re a serious SF collector, you need this. The problem is, you can’t trust it. No other reference work offers the wealth and scope of knowledge of SF small press publishers that this one does. There’s a lot of good information in here. The print edition shown above had major errors and omissions, and a very odd organizational structure, not to mention several sneers and the constant sound of ax-grinding for SF figures the authors disagree with; the CD-ROM version is more accurate, but no longer up to date as both Chalker and Owings have died. What this book is best for is the chatty, informative histories of the various publishing houses listed here. (If nothing else, I can unstintingly recommend this book for anyone thinking of starting up their own small press, as it provides numerous examples of what not to do.) It’s also quite useful for uncovering titles and publishers you might not have known existed before. In summary: A valuable tool for those who possess enough experience in the field to know which parts to take with a grain of salt.
  • Clute, John, & Nichols, Peter. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. St. Martins, 1993 (first U.S. edition, offset from the same plates as the Orbit (UK) first). An absolutely essential general reference work.
  • Clute, John, & Grant, John. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. St. Martins, 1997 (first U.S. edition). Slightly more scattershot than the above, but still an essential guide.
  • Reginald, Robert. Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: Indexes to the Literature, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature:Contemporary Science Fiction Authors, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: 1975 to 1991. Gale Research, 1980, 1981, 1992. Not the first reference work I reach for, but contains a lot of information that has slipped through the cracks of other works.
  • Levack, Daniel. Amber Dreams: A Roger Zelazny Bibliography. Underwood Miller, 1983. The first of the single-author bibliographies.
  • Levack, Daniel. PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography. Underwood Miller, 1981. I have a copy of the trade paperback edition for sale over on the Lame Excuse Books page.
  • Hewett, Jerry. The Work of Jack Vance: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide. Borgo Press/Underwood Miller, 1994. I know Jerry pretty well, and not only has he signed my copy, he crossed out “Borgo” and wrote in “Bozo” on the title page. I think he had some problems dealing with them…
  • Bleiler, Everett F. The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction. Firebell, 1978. Slightly updated edition of Bleiler’s classic Checklist of Fantastic Fiction (which I have on another shelf), and an absolutely essential reference work for older SF/F/H books.
  • Joshi, S. T. Sixty Years of Arkham House. Arkham House, 1999. Not 100% accurate, but essential none the less.
  • Bleiler, Everett. The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. Kent State University Press, 1993. Very good, and very solid, as a general reference work, but not really concerned with first edition points.
  • Locke, George. Spectrum of Fantasy I-III. Ferret Fantasy, 1980-2002. Perhaps the only SF dealer as knowledgeable as Currey. These are Locke’s descriptions of his own personal library of fantastic fiction. Quite enjoyable works, and George is a nice guy.
  • One guideline I’d offer aspiring SF/F/H book collectors is: Don’t skimp on the reference works. Some of these books can be expensive, but all it takes is one real find (or one expensive dud avoided) for a good reference work to pay for itself.

    More pictures of my reference library when I have the time…