Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Book cover: "Out of the Unknown"


  • Title: Out of the Unknown
  • Authors: A. E. van Vogt (1912-2000) & E. Mayne Hall (1905-1975)
  • Cover designer: Roy Hunt
  • Publisher: Fantasy Publishing Company Inc. of Los Angeles
  • Original price: $3.00 (per dust jacket)
  • Publication date (you'll be sorry you asked): Book was originally published in 1948. This copy is indicated as Second Edition on the copyright page, but no year is listed. It might be 1952 or later, based on the price on the dust jacket and other known printings/editions. The dust jacket blurb states: "Attesting to its enthusiastic reception by the public is the fact that this book is now in the second edition." ... The excellent website Icshi.net states: "this book has a very confusing printing history" and "Fantasy Publishing, who released the first edition, reprinted the book an indeterminate number of times. Sources conflict greatly on the dates and details of these reprints."
  • Pages: 141
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Contents:
    • The Sea Thing, by A.E. van Vogt
    • The Wishes We Make, by E. Mayne Hull
    • The Witch, by A.E. van Vogt
    • The Patient, by E. Mayne Hull
    • The Ultimate Wish, by E. Mayne Hull
    • The Ghost, by A.E. van Vogt
  • Dedication: "To Forrest J Ackerman"
  • First sentence: The thing scrambled out of the water and stood for a moment swaying gently on its human legs, as if intoxicated.
  • Last sentence: The time would come when the — ghost — would walk no more.
  • Random sentence from middle: It was seventeen minutes to twelve, and that nearly twisted his brain.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.47 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Notes: Alfred Elton van Vogt and Edna Mayne Hull were married from 1939 until 1975, when Edna died. According to Wikipedia, "[her] writing career was relatively brief, with virtually all her work having been written during the three years she lived in Toronto." ... The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction speculates, perhaps unfairly, the following: "Hull ceased writing sf and fantasy — or (as has been suggested) her husband stopped using her name for marketing reasons — when she became involved in Dianetics. It will probably never be established with security whether Out of the Unknown is an anthology or a collection." ... One more thing about my copy: A pencil notation on the first page indicates "Some Pages are in wrong order." Leafing through the right-hand pages toward the back of the book, I can confirm that the numbering is as follows: 101, 115, 117, [unnumbered title page], 109, 111, 113, 103, 105, 119. So, in addition to being a collection of spooky tales, the book is also an (unintentional) exercise in ergodic literature.

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