Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


During the Sixties and Seventies there was a phemenon in the science fiction field known as Roger Elwood, whom some feel almost killed the sf field.  Elwood was an anthologist and promoter who was so prolific that, for a while, he was responsible for fully a quarter of the science fiction short stories published.  He produced (by my count) at least 66 anthologies; his count was about 80, which may have counted single-author collections (which I did not). He also edited a line of science fiction books for Harlequin and edited a short-lived science fiction magazine.  Elwood also claimed he had sold a thousand articles; I don't know if this has been verified.

     Elwood did most (if not all) of his work over the phone.   He evidently finessed a number of publishing houses into contracts while not letting on about his contracts with other publishing houses, resulting in a flood on the market.  Many of his anthologies (especially the later ones) were of poor quality and carelessly edited.  His book line, Laser Books, was criticized for clumsy editing and, in at least one case, a book was rewritten (and credited!) by another hand without the author's knowledge.  As with many other editors, Elwood imposed his personal beliefs on the stories he anthologized, restricting religion and sex as themes.  After he left the science fiction field, he ended his career as an author of religious novels.  He died in 2007.

     Despite his flaws, many of his anthologies are of interest and contain rare reprints, as well as works by some well-known authors at the beginning or ends of their careers.  I'd thought I'd cover his anthologies in this on-going, occasional series.

     ALIEN WORLDS (Paperback Library, 1964)  Elwood's first anthology, with science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz as an uncredited co-editor.  Contents:
  • Poul Anderson, The Last Monster.  Originally published as Terminal Quest, in Super Science Stories, August, 1951.
  • Robert Bloch, The Fear Planet.  Originally published in Super Science Stories in February, 1953.
  • John Brunner, Singleminded.  Originally published in If, May, 1963; it has also been published as Single-Minded.
  • John W. Campbell (Jr.), The Brain Stealers of Mars.  Originally published as The Brain-Stealers of Mars in Wonder Stories,  December, 1936; this was the first story in Campbell's "Penton and Blake" series.
  • Philip K. Dick, The Cosmic Poachers.  Originally published in Imagination, July, 1953.
  • Edmond Hamilton, The Stars, My Brothers.  Originally published in Amazing Stories, May, 1962.
  • Eric Frank Russell, Afternoon of a Fahn.  Originally published in Imagination, April, 1951; it has also been published as Rainbow's End.
  • Robert Sheckley, Dawn Invader.  Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March, 1957.
  • Clifford D. Simak, Madness from Mars.  Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, April, 1939
  • "John Wyndham" [John Benyon Harris], The Man from Beyond.  Originally published as The Man from Earth, Wonder Stories, September, 1934.
     Comments:  An interesting selection of (then) little-known stories by well-known authors.

     INVASION OF THE ROBOTS (Paperbackback Library, 1965)  As the title suggests, a theme anthology.  ISFDB notes that L. W. Curry lists Sam Moskowitz as the anonymous editor of this book, rather than as an anonymous co-editor; if true, I suppose we could consider this a companion-piece to Moskowitz's The Coming of the Robots (Collier Books, 1963).  Contents:

  • Isaac Asimov, Satisfaction Guaranteed.  Originall published in Amazing Stories, April, 1951; a "Susan Calvin" story.
  • Robert Bloch, Almost Human.  Originally published in Fantastic Adventures, June, 1943, as by "Tarleton Fiske".
  • Lester del Rey, Into Thy Hands.  Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, August, 1945.
  • Philip K. Dick, The Defenders.  Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, January, 1953.
  • Henry Kuttner, Piggy Bank.  Actually written with Kuttner's wife, C. L. Moore (uncredited); originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, December, 1942, as by "Lewis Padgett".
  • Richard Matheson, Brother to the Machine.  Originally published in If, November, 1952.
  • Eric Frank Russell, Boomerang.  Originally published as A Great Deal of Power, Fantastic Universe, August-September, 1953.
  • Jack Williamson, With Folded Hands....  Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, July, 1947; also published as With Folded Hands; the first story in Williamson's "Humanoid" series.
     Comments:  Again, stories by top-named authors;  several of the stories are considered classics in the field.

     STRANGE SIGNPOSTS, co-edited with Sam Moskowitz (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966)  The first hardcover anthology and the first to list Moskowitz as a co-editor.  Contents:

  • Roger Elwood and Sam Moskowitz, The Other Side of the Curtain -- A Reflection of the Future.  Introduction.
  • Robert Bloch, One Way to Mars.  Originally published in The Opener of the Way, Arkham House, 1945.
  • Ray Bradbury, Doodad.  (Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, September, 1943.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Skeleton Men of Jupiter.  Originally published in Amazing Stories, February, 1943; part of Burroughs' "John Carter/Barsoom" series.
  • Arthuir C. Clarke, Castaway.  Originally published in Fantasy No. 2, April, 1947, as by "Charles Willis".
  • "Erckmann-Chatrian" [working name of collaborators Alexandre Chatrian and Emile Erckmann], Hans Schnap's Spy-Glass, from Popular Tales and Romances, Ward, Lock and Tayler, 1872, translator unknown; the original French publication of the story was in 1860.
  • Edmond Hamilton, The Man Who Saw the Future.  Originally published in Amazing Stories, October, 1930.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rappacinni's Daughter.  Originally published in The United States Magazine and Democatic Review, December, 1844.
  • H. P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in the Darkness.  Originally published in Weird Tales, August, 1931; a "Cthulhu Mythos" story.
  • Edgar Allan Poe, Mellonta Tauta.  Originally published in Godey's Lady Book, February, 1849.
  • [Luis P. Senarans], Frank Reade Junior's Air Wonder.    Originally published separately in 1876, as by "Noname"; part of a long-running series.
  • Mary Shelley, The Last Man [exerpt].  A section from Shelley's The Last Man, H. Coburn, 1826.
  • Jules Verne, The Begum's Fortune [exerpt].  A section from Verne's The 500 Millions of the Begum, G. Munro, 1879; this extract evidently taken from I. O. Evans' Jules Verne -- Master of Science Fiction, Sidgewick Jackson, 1956; if so, Evans is probably the translator; the original novel was first published in French in 1879.
  • "Harl Vincent" [Harold Vincent Schoepflin], Prowler of the Wastelands.  Originally published in Astounding Stories, April, 1935; the first of two stories Vincent wrote about the "Prowler".
  • H. G. Wells, The Chronic Argonauts.  Originally published in The Science School Journal in two parts, beginning in April, 1888; the basis of Wells' novel The Time Machine.
  • Jack Williamson, The Cosmic Express.  Originally published in Amazing Stories, November, 1930.
     Comments:  A volume mainly of historical works in the field.  The contents alone show a heavy hand by Moskowitz in the selection of stories.  The Clarke and the Bradbury are very minor stories, the type that Moskowitz liked to "rescue" from pulp and fan oblivion.  Please note that Moskowitz sometimes had a heavy hand in abridging extracts and longer works; I do not know if this is the case here, though.


Coming soon:  more Elwood anthologies, including more collaborations with Sam Moskowitz and Elwood's first collaboration wi Vic Ghidalia.


  1. I stumbled across THE LITTLE MONSTERS, used, at about the height of Elwood's prolificity. My father brought home a copy of STRANGE GODS at about the same time, and EPOCH not too long after...and I found BEWARE THE BEASTS. These were among his (all but STRANGE GODS editorially collaborative) more interesting efforts...

  2. EPOCH is a really great collection; I , perhaps unfairly, credit that to Elwood's co-editor, Robert Silverberg. Almost as good as the stories were the introductions provided by the stories' authors.

    THE LITTLE MONSTERS and BEWARE THE BEASTS, a well as others edited with Vic Ghidalia, reprinted stories that were not readily available elsewhere. I'll be coming to all these books in the future, Todd.

  3. Ghidalia, as you know, went on to edit at least one or two more on his own, still stuck with MacFadden-Bartel's similarly no-budget heir, Mentor, for at least one of them. I picked up one of those, not long after, but will have to go look up the title for that one...

  4. A brief check with ISFDB shows that Ghidalia actually produced 18 anthologies, only eight of them with Elwood. Many of his solo efforts where published by Manor, and two were published for the school market by Xerox.