Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book cover: "Galaxy of Ghouls"

Here's a perfectly appropriate vintage book cover for Halloween Week.

  • Title: Galaxy of Ghouls
  • Incredibly awesome subtitle: A Handy Guide for Vampires and Werewolves, of Spells and Sorcery of Switches on Witches of Shape-Stealers and Soul-Swappers of Demons and Damnation...
  • Seriously, is that the best subtitle ever? Yes.
  • Did the awesome subtitle appear in the official copyright listing? I don't think so.
  • Would this book have been in Catholic school libraries? I don't think so.
  • Editor: Judith Merril
  • Authors included in anthology: Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, J.B. Priestley, Richard Parker, Anthony Boucher, Robert Sheckley, Fritz Leiber, Arthur Porges, Leslie Charteris, Bruce Elliott, William Tenn, Clifford Simak, Manly Wade Wellman and Walter M. Miller Jr. Plus one story co-written by Jerome BIxby and Joe E. Dean.
  • That's a lot men: Yes.
  • Probably white men: Yes.
  • What about Leslie Charteris: Man.
  • What about Manly Wade Wellman: A very Manly man. But nothing like this Manly.
  • But, hey, at least the editor was a woman: Correct. Judith Josephine Grossman (1923-1997) was a pioneering science fiction writer, editor and political activist. Her three published novels were Shadow on the Hearth, Gunner Cade and The Tomorrow People. There are a few collections of her short stories, including two published in the 1970s — Survival Ship and Other Stories and The Best of Judith Merril. She was a peace activist who once, according to Wikipedia, traveled "to Ottawa dressed as a witch in order to hex Parliament for allowing American cruise missile testing over Canada." You can read more about her writing at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
  • Cover art: B. Thomas
  • Man? Not sure, actually.
  • Publisher: Lion Library (LL25)
  • Cover price: 35 cents
  • Year: May 1955
  • Pages: 192
  • Format: Paperback
  • Reprints: Pyramid Books republished this book as Off the Beaten Orbit in 1959 and 1961 (with new covers each time).
  • What others say about this anthology:
    • Todd Mason, writing on Sweet Freedom, states: "A thoroughly enjoyable anthology of fantasy, sf, horror and Merril's then-favorite term for all fantastic fiction, 'science-fantasy' (often in the specific sense of that which mixes fantasy and sf aspects, tropes and furniture, as well as Merril's more broad sense, which she would eventually trade for a broad definition of Robert Heinlein's 'speculative fiction' suggestion of some years earlier)."
    • Reviewing the book on Goodreads, Heidi writes: "The whole book is really a convergence of science fiction stories which have an element of the occult. (A few are just strictly ghost and/or horror stories.) Almost all of the stories here are pretty good and there are a few real stand-outs."
    • Margaret L. Carter, writing on Vamp Chix, begins her review by stating: "OFF THE BEATEN ORBIT (1961; first published as GALAXY OF GHOULS, 1955), compiled by distinguished SF writer and editor Judith Merril, isn't a vampire anthology as such. But it does include three vintage vampire tales (two being a couple of my all-time favorites), plus two other stories with some vampire content. It also features two werewolf pieces. This anthology holds a special place in my heart. I first heard of it from my high school boyfriend, who described some of the contents to me but never got around to lending me the book. I'd given up on ever actually seeing the elusive paperback when I stumbled upon it in a used book shop, long before Internet searches existed."
  • Just realized. "Switches on witches" is a little kinky, no?: Yes.
  • So, definitely not in Catholic school libraries?: Correct.

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