Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Operation:  Phantasy -- The Best From The Phantagraph edited by Donald A. Wollheim

Don Wollheim (1914-1990) was a member of the Futurians, a loose-knit group of science fiction fans in the 1930s whose members included Frederik Pohl, Cyril Kornbluth, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Judith Merril, Dirk Wylie, Richard Wilson, Damon Knight, and (tangently) Isaac Asimov.  He moved from fan to professional with short stories and the editorship of Stirring Science Stories and Cosmic Stories.  Following World War II, he joined the staff of Avon Books and was responsible for much of their early science fiction and fantasy titles, including the Avon Fantasy Reader.  Moving to Ace Books in the early 1950s, he was (among other duties) responsible for their science fiction line and later became vice-president of Ace.  In the 1970s Wollheim founded DAW Books, which is still a leading publisher of science fiction and fantasy.  He wrote a number of books including three in the Winston "Adventures in SF" series and eight books in the Mike Mars young adult series.  He also edited a number of ground-breaking anthologies and, from 1965, "The World's Best Science Fiction" annual series.  Wollheim was an important figure in the field, but at heart he remained a fan.

     The Phantagraph grew from The International Science Fiction Guild's Bulletin, a poorly produced amateur magazine/newsletter that had begun in 1934.  Wollheim came on board as editor in 1935 and changed the title to The Phantagraph; eventually morphing it into a respectable fanzine which continued until 1946.  Many of the leading authors in the field contributed to it -- albeit with minor pieces.  This "Best Of" collection was published in 1967 by Wollheim in a limited edition of 420 copies; the copy I read was #153, on loan from a library in Ohio.  The book was produced and distributed by Donald M. Grant, which explains the advertisement for Robert E. Howard's A Gent from Bear Creek on the back cover and for The Pride of Bear Creek on the inside back flap.  The cover looks like it was done by Hannes Bok.

    As I implied, the contents are mainly inconsequential writings, but they are of interest for a dedicated fan:

  • Introduction - Donald A. Wollheim
  • Harbour Whistles - poem by H. P. Lovecraft
  • The Sunken Towers - poem by Henry Kuttner
  • The Objective Approach - story by Cyril Kornbluth
  • Contrast - poem by James Blish
  • Versiflage - poem by Frederik Pohl
  • Segment - poem by Cyril Kornbluth
  • Fateful Hour - poem by Robert W. Lowndes
  • Weird Music - article by Duane W. Rimel & Emil Petaja
  • Jump Out of Bed - poem by "F. Stanislaus Prosody" (perhaps Kornbluth)
  • How I Get My Inspiration - article by Robert Bloch
  • Old Trinity Churchyard - a revised poem by A. Merritt
  • Howard Phillips Lovecraft - editorial by Donald A. Wollheim
  • Ex Oblivione - prose-poem by H. P. Lovecraft
  • The Unconquerable Fire - poem by John B. Michel
  • "Only Deserted" - poem by August Derleth
  • The Booklings - story by Donald A. Wollheim
  • Song at Midnight - poem by Robert E. Howard
  • The Memnons of the Night - prose-poem by Clark Ashton Smith
  • Proverbs from the Dawnish - uncredited miscellany (probably Wollheim)
  • Stuff - story Dirk Wylie
  • Innocence - poem by "Graham Conway" (Wollheim)
  • Quarry - poem by Robert W. Lowndes
  • Chant of the Black Magicians - poem by Cyril Kornbluth
  • All Out - story by Donald A. Wollheim (originally published as by "Karl Valone")

     A curiosity, for sure, but -- at 59 pages -- a pleasant way to spend a half hour.

1 comment:

  1. That definitely would be worth the ILL effort. (ILL-gotten gain?)