Fantasy Press

Fantasy Press was an American publishing house specialising in fantasy and science fiction titles. Established in 1946 by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach[1] in Reading, Pennsylvania, it was most notable for publishing the works of authors such as Robert A. Heinlein and E. E. Smith.[1] One of its more notable offerings was the Lensman series.

Among its books was Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing (1947),[2] which was the first book about modern SF and contained essays by John W. Campbell, Jr., Robert A. Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt and others.

Fantasy Press
Fantasy Press (logo)
StatusDefunct
Founded1946
FounderLloyd Arthur Eshbach
SuccessorGnome Press
Country of originUnited Stats
Headquarters locationReading, Pennsylvania
Publication typesBooks
Fiction genresfantasy and science fiction

History

Lloyd Arthur Eshbach ordered a copy of Skylark of Space from its publisher, the Buffalo Book Company, in 1945 or 1946.[3] Like many of Buffalo's customers, Eshbach was frustrated by Buffalo's delays in publishing and lack of marketing, an area that Eschbach had some expertise in, from his job as a copywriter for Glidden. He wrote to the Buffalo Book Company offering suggestions as to how they could better market their books. Thus started a correspondence between Eshbach and Tom Hadley, of Buffalo and later of the Hadley Publishing Company. Eshbach, who was working as an ad copywriter for the Glidden Company, did all of his work for Hadley as a gesture of good will with no payment. He withdrew when he saw that Hadley's ventures were going nowhere and customers were growing dissatisfied with the publisher. [4]

While never an employee of Hadley, Eshbach helped him with his marketing efforts and as a result ended up with a copy of the mailing list of Hadley's customers.[5] Eshbach jokingly suggested to several of his co-workers that they could probably do as well with a publishing company of their own, and to his surprise, the men agreed. [6] With two of his co-workers from Glidden (A.J. Donnell as illustrator and Lyman H. Houck as bookkeeper) and one other friend of theirs (Herb MacGregor shipping the books), Eshbach used the mailing list to start Fantasy Press.[7] He approached E. E. Smith to obtain the rights to Spacehounds of IPC. Smith was enthusiastic[3] and Spacehounds of IPC became the first title published by the new press. Eshbach had seen the success of Hadley's poorly produced 'Skylark of Space and knew that a well done volume of E.E. Smith would probably be a strong seller. Spacehounds of IPC was extremely successful and sold several thousand copies. Eshbach immediately went out and got contracts for other books he thought would do well. Fantasy Press swiftly became the most successful and important of the fledgling science fiction small presses. [8] Eshbach acquiring the stories, A.J. Donnell as illustrator, Lyman Houck (an accountant friend and fellow Mason) as bookkeeper, and Herb MacGregor shipping the books. Eshbach eventually bought out his partners and operated the press for several years on his own.[3] Ultimately, Fantasy Press was under-capitalized and sales declined in the face of competition from the mainstream publishers. Eshbach wrote his authors and reverted the rights to their books while he took a job with a religious publishing house in Myerstown, Pennsylvania.[3]

Publication Standards

Good titles were not the only thing going for Eshbach. He knew how to produce an attractive book and did so. All of the Fantasy Press books featured attractive bindings and dustjackets. The paper was of good quality and the typeface was clear and readable. Eshbach believed in illustrated books and all of his publications featured interior illustrations. At first, most of the art was done by A.J. Donnell, one of the founders of the company, but after a few years, Eshbach began using popular science fiction magazine artists as well....Eshbach was an intelligent businessman and knew how to produce a book that would sell. His choices for publication were well thought out. In a brilliant stroke, he contracted for the entire Lensman series by E. E. Smith. Smith completely revised an early non-related novel, Triplanetary, into the introductory novel of the series. He then wrote an entirely new novel, First Lensman, to tie the first novel in with the four adventures of Kimball Kinneson which had originally made up the rest of the series. The six Lensman books were among the best selling of all the Fantasy Press titles. [9]

Lloyd Eshbach established many features for his Fantasy Press that are accepted today as commonplace by collectors of specialty press books.[10] As a way of generating pre-publication capital for new titles, Eshbach hatched the idea of offering special signed editions to those who placed pre-publication orders for new books through the mail. These special editions contained a "limitation leaf" - a page bound or tipped in after the title page - stating that only so many copies of a given book were numbered and signed by the book's author, along with an inscription by or signature of the author as a reward for ordering. Many fans that ordered multiple books from the same author found themselves receiving warm inscriptions as the writer came to know them by name. The normal press run for a Fantasy Press title was about 3,000 copies; in each edition anywhere from 250 to 500 copies would contain the limitation leaf. Today, these signed editions fetch two to four times (or more in the case of authors like Robert Heinlein) the value of an unsigned edition, and are highly sought after by collectors. And the practice of the limited/signed edition is a standard offering among specialty publishers today.

Later Years and Demise

Fantasy Press folded after 1955, a victim of the glut of science fiction books and magazines on the market by that time. What had been a relatively empty playing field in 1946 or 1947, when many of the fan publishers began operations, had become by the mid-1950s a free-for-all, as the mainstream book publishers, seeing the initial successes of the specialty houses, jumped into the fray full-force, bringing with them considerable capitalization and extensive distribution networks with which the fan publishers could scarcely compete. This period also saw the rise of inexpensive paperback publishing, with titles often becoming available in paperback at one-tenth the price of a hardcover, before the specialty house had time to sell out its own edition. Readers became wise to the fact that if they just waited for six months or a year before buying, they could get the book in paperback on the cheap. The collector's market by itself was simply not large enough at that time to support the specialty presses without general reader sales added in. This era heralded the fall of the "big three" science fiction specialty houses - Fantasy Press, Gnome Press, and Shasta Publishers, although Gnome and Shasta managed to hang on for a few years more by sheer force of will. Eshbach knew when to call it quits before the house totally burned to the ground, and reverted rights for all of his books to his authors - as he had no money to pay them with - and formally retreated from the stage of fan publishing. In 1955, Fantasy Press bombed with Under the Triple Suns, a new novel by Stanton Coblentz.

Never one to give in completely, Eshbach continued to experiment whenever his funding allowed. In 1956 he took 500 sets of the remaining unbound sheets for three of his titles and had them bound in paper covers as part of the Fantasy Press "Golden Science Fiction Library", which he then marketed (mostly at conventions)[11]for $1.00 apiece. And, as a favor to Martin Greenberg over at Gnome Press, Eshbach utilized his position as director of the Church Center Press in 1961[12] to assist in the production of two of the last Gnome Press titles, Invaders from the Infinite, by John W. Campbell, Jr., and The Vortex Blaster, by Edward E. Smith - both titles which Eshbach had held the rights to but had transferred to Gnome. As part of his agreement with Greenberg, Eshbach also produced a limited run (about one hundred copies of the Campbell book, and 300 of the Smith) of each title on better-quality book paper under the Fantasy Press logo, which have since become among the most sought-after titles in the Fantasy Press line.

Eshbach had remaining in storage as much as 20,000 unbound sheets[13] for nearly every one of his company's 46 titles (excluding Polaris Press). He sold small quantities of these to Martin Greenberg over at Gnome Press, which Greenberg cheaply bound and sold through his Pick-A-Book operation. But the bulk of these sheets were sold to Donald M. Grant, himself a publisher of mostly fantasy books, who bound quantities of each of them for sale. As the bindings used by both Grant and Greenberg were in most cases different from the originals, this practice created a bewildering number of "variants" that sometimes have collectors today shaking their heads. Grant was still finding unbound sheets in his warehouse twenty years later and binding them for sale, so it was not unusual to see "brand new" copies of Fantasy Press books for sale into the mid and even late 1980's, as much as thirty years after the company had ceased operations. Eshbach also sold Grant a fair quantity of flat dust jackets for Fantasy Press books, some of which are still available on the collector's market today.

Imprints

Polaris Press was a subsidiary imprint of Fantasy Press that was created in 1952.[3] Eschbach created the imprint in order to publish books he felt did not quite fit under the Fantasy Press imprint.[14] Ultimately, only two titles were ever issued under the Polaris Press imprint.[3]

Works published by Fantasy Press

Works published by Polaris Press

Notes

  1. ^ a b Clute, John; Peter Nicholls (1995). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 411. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
  2. ^ Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 235.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Eshbach, Lloyd Arthur (1983). Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era. Philadelphia: Oswald Train. pp. 109–138. OCLC 10489084.
  4. ^ Robert Weinberg "Specialty Science Fiction Publishers"ïn Hall W. Hall, ed, Science Fiction Collections: Fantasy, Supernatural and Weird Tales, Haworth Press, 1978, p. 122
  5. ^ Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 342.
  6. ^ Robert Weinberg "Specialty Science Fiction Publishers"ïn Hall W. Hall, ed, Science Fiction Collections: Fantasy, Supernatural and Weird Tales, Haworth Press, 1978, p. 122
  7. ^ "Lloyd Arthur Eshbach Papers". Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Robert Weinberg "Specialty Science Fiction Publishers"ïn Hall W. Hall, ed, Science Fiction Collections: Fantasy, Supernatural and Weird Tales, Haworth Press, 1978, p. 122
  9. ^ Robert Weinberg "Specialty Science Fiction Publishers"ïn Hall W. Hall, ed, Science Fiction Collections: Fantasy, Supernatural and Weird Tales, Haworth Press, 1978, p. 122
  10. ^ Over My Shoulder: Reflections On A Science Fiction Era, Lloyd A. Eshbach, 1983, Oswald Train, Publisher
  11. ^ Lloyd Arthur Eshbach - Over My Shoulder: Reflections On A Science Fiction Era,1983, Oswald Train: Publisher, pp360, 364
  12. ^ Lloyd Arthur Eshbach - Over My Shoulder: Reflections On A Science Fiction Era,1983, Oswald Train: Publisher, pp 218-220
  13. ^ Owings and Chalker, The Science Fantasy Publishers, 1998; Over My Shoulder: Reflections On A Science Fiction Era, 1983, Lloyd A, Eshbach, Oswald Train, Publisher
  14. ^ Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 524.

References

  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. pp. 232–242, 524.
A Walking Tour of the Shambles

A Walking Tour of the Shambles (Little Walks For Sightseers #16) (2002), written by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, is a novel in the form of a tour guide concerning a fictional part of Chicago called 'The Shambles'. It guides the reader through such non-existent landmarks as The House of Clocks (see the official website), Cereal House (home of the Terribly Strange Bed), and Gavagan's Irish Saloon. A collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe (cover by Gahan Wilson, with interior illustrations by Randy Broecker and Earl Geier), it was published with two different covers by the American Fantasy Press (one crediting "Gaiman and Wolfe", the other crediting "Wolfe and Gaiman".

Although Chicago doesn't have a Shambles, Philadelphia, for instance, does.

Beyond Thirty

Beyond Thirty is a short science fiction novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was written in 1915 and first published in All Around Magazine in February 1916, but did not appear in book form in Burroughs' lifetime. The first book edition was issued by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's Fantasy Press fanzine in 1955; it then appeared in the collection Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater, published by Science-Fiction & Fantasy Publications in 1957. The work was retitled The Lost Continent for the first mass-market paperback edition, published by Ace Books in October 1963; all subsequent editions bore the new title until the Bison Books edition of March 2001, which restored the original title.

Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater

Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater is a collection of two short novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both were written in 1915; The Man-Eater, a jungle adventure, was first published as a serial in the New York Evening World newspaper from November 15–20, 1915, while Beyond Thirty, a science fiction story, was first published in All Around Magazine in February 1916. Neither work appeared in book form in Burroughs' lifetime. The first book versions were limited editions were issued by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's Fantasy Press fanzine in 1955; the two works were then published in a combined edition under the present title by Science-Fiction & Fantasy Publications in 1957, through which they first reached a wide readership. Both works have since been published separately.

Beyond This Horizon

Beyond This Horizon is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally published as a two-part serial in Astounding Science Fiction (April, May 1942, under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald) and then as a single volume by Fantasy Press in 1948. It was awarded a Retro Hugo award for best novel in 2018.

Divide and Rule (collection)

Divide and Rule is a 1948 collection of two science fiction novellas by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, first published in hardcover by Fantasy Press, and later reissued in paperback by Lancer Books in 1964. The collected pieces were previously published in 1939 and 1941 in the magazines Unknown and Astounding. The first stand-alone edition of the title story was published as a large-print hardcover by Thorndike Press in September 2003. An E-book edition of the title story was issued by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.The stories in the collection both postulate futures in which Earth has reverted to feudalism, in one instance by the dictate of alien invaders and in the other as a result of the accumulation of excessive power by corporations.

Divide and Rule (novella)

"Divide and Rule" is a science fiction novella by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published as a serial in the magazine Unknown from April to May, 1939 and first appeared in book form in de Camp's collection Divide and Rule (Fantasy Press, 1948). The story was revised for book publication. The first stand-alone book edition of the story was published as a large-print hardcover by Thorndike Press in September 2003. An E-book edition of the story was issued by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.The story has also appeared in the anthologies Cosmic Knights (Signet/NEL, 1985), The Mammoth Book of Classic Science Fiction: Short Novels of the 1930s (Robinson, 1988), Divide and Rule/The Sword of Rhiannon (Tor, 1990), and Great Tales of Classic Science Fiction (Galahad Books, 1990).

E. E. Smith bibliography

This is complete bibliography by American space opera author E. E. Smith.

Because he died in 1965, the works of E.E. Smith are now public domain in countries where the term of copyright lasts 50 years after the death of the author, or less; generally this does not include works first published posthumously. Works first published before 1923, are also public domain in the United States. Additionally, a number of the author's works have become public domain in the United States due to non-renewal of copyright.

Genus Homo (novel)

Genus Homo is a science fiction novel by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and P. Schuyler Miller. It was first published in the science fiction magazine Super Science Stories for March, 1941, and subsequently published in book form in hardcover by Fantasy Press in 1950 and in paperback by Berkley Books in 1961. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. It has also been translated into French, Italian and German.

The book has the distinction of being de Camp's first science fiction novel, and Miller's only novel. It is perhaps the earliest novel dealing with the afterwards popular theme of humanity being replaced by intelligent apes in the future, later epitomized by Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes.

Invaders from the Infinite

Invaders from the Infinite is a science fiction novel by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr.. It was simultaneously published in 1961 by Gnome Press in an edition of 4,000 copies and by Fantasy Press in an edition of 100 copies. The book was originally intended to be published by Fantasy Press, but was handed over to Gnome Press when Fantasy Press folded. Lloyd Eshbach, of Fantasy Press, who was responsible for the printing of both editions, printed the extra copies for his longtime customers. The Fantasy Press edition was issued without a dust-jacket. Eshbach eventually did produce a jacket in 1990 at the urging of George Zebrowski. The novel is an expansion of stories that originally appeared in the magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly.

E. F. Bleiler described the novel as "the early John W. Campbell story par excellence: weak novelistic skills combined with very strong speculative, imaginative theoretical physics. While one may be bored with [the] interminable lectures and rendered drowsy by the repeated space battles, but one must also admire Campbell's ingenuity in creating novel artifacts".

Lloyd Arthur Eshbach

Lloyd Arthur Eshbach (June 20, 1910 – October 29, 2003) was an American science fiction fan, publisher and writer, secular and religious publisher, and minister.

Masters of Time

Masters of Time is a collection of two science fiction novellas by author A. E. van Vogt. It was first published in 1950 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 4,034 copies. The novellas originally appeared in the magazine Astounding.

Oscar Mellor

Oscar Mellor (7 June 1921 – 2005) was an English surrealist artist and publisher of poetry. An associate of the Birmingham Surrealists in the 1940s, he founded the Fantasy Press in the 1950s, publishing works by poets such as Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Thom Gunn.Although he became best known as a publisher, he saw himself primarily as an artist whose business activities existed to support his painting.

Skylark of Valeron

Skylark of Valeron is a science fiction novel by American writer E. E. Smith, the third in his Skylark series. Originally serialized through the magazine Astounding in 1934, it was first collected in book form in 1949 by Fantasy Press.

Spacehounds of IPC

Spacehounds of IPC is a science fiction novel by author E. E. Smith. It was first published in book form in 1947 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 2,008 copies. It was the first book published by Fantasy Press. The novel was originally serialized in the August, September and October issues of the magazine Amazing Stories in 1931. Smith became disenchanted when he saw that editor T. O'Conor Sloane had made some unauthorized changes in the story, most likely to give each of the three parts it had been split into equal length.The story was the first to use the term "tractor beam", a name and concept that has been adopted by many subsequent literary works of fiction and other media until the present day.

The Book of Ptath

The Book of Ptath is a science fiction novel by Canadian-American writer A. E. van Vogt. It was first published in book form in 1947 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 3,021 copies. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Unknown in October 1943. The book has also appeared under the titles Two Hundred Million A.D. and Ptath.

The Man-Eater

The Man-Eater is a short adventure novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, written in May 1915, originally as a movie treatment. His working title for the piece was "Ben, King of Beasts." The Man-Eater is one of Burrough's rarer works. It was first published as a serial in the New York Evening World newspaper under the present title from November 15–20, 1915, but did not appear in book form in Burroughs' lifetime. The first book edition was issued by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's Fantasy Press fanzine in 1955; it then appeared in the collection Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater, published by Science-Fiction & Fantasy Publications in 1957. It was reprinted in paperback (without the hyphen in the title) as The Man Eater: Ben, King of Beasts by Fantasy House in 1974.

The Stolen Dormouse

"The Stolen Dormouse" is a science fiction novella by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published as a serial in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction for April and May, 1941 and first appeared in book form in de Camp's collection Divide and Rule (Fantasy Press, 1948). The story has also appeared in the anthologies Astounding Stories: The 60th Anniversary Collection (Easton Press, 1990), and The Best of Astounding: Classic Short Novels from the Golden Age of Science Fiction (Carroll & Graf, 1992).

The Vortex Blaster

The Vortex Blaster is a collection of three science fiction short stories by American writer Edward E. Smith. It was simultaneously published in 1960 by Gnome Press in an edition of 3,000 copies and by Fantasy Press in an edition of 341 copies. The book was originally intended to be published by Fantasy Press, but was handed over to Gnome Press when Fantasy Press folded. Lloyd Eshbach, of Fantasy Press, who was responsible for the printing of both editions, printed the extra copies for his longtime customers. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Comet and Astonishing Stories.

In 1968, Pyramid Books issued a paperback edition under the title Masters of the Vortex, promoting it as "the final adventure in the famous Lensman series." While the stories are set in the same universe as the Lensman novels, they are only tangentially related. They reference events that happen in the Lensman series, but only “off stage”. No characters from the other Lensmen books show up in this book. From the events spoken of in this book it apparently falls between Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens.

Triplanetary (novel)

Triplanetary is a science fiction novel and space opera by American writer E. E. Smith. It was first serialized in the magazine Amazing Stories in 1934. After the original four novels of the Lensman series were published, Smith expanded and reworked Triplanetary into the first of two prequels for the series. The expanded Triplanetary was published in book form in 1948 by Fantasy Press. The second prequel, First Lensman, was a new original novel published in 1950 by Fantasy Press.

The novel covers several episodes in an eons-long human breeding project by the super-intelligences of the Arisians. This alien race is breeding two genetic lines to become the ultimate weapon in Arisia's cosmic war with their arch-enemies, the Eddorians. The initial chapters cover the Kinnison genetic line during the fall of Atlantis and Nero's reign in Rome. These tales were inserted into the novel following the serialized release, along with chapters covering members of the Kinnison line in World Wars One, Two, and Three.

The final chapter of Triplanetary tells of the discovery of the inertialess drive that allows faster-than-light travel. Patrolman Conway Costigan and his friends engage in a space battle with Gray Roger the pirate gangster. This conflict is complicated by the arrival of the technologically superior, extra-Solar, amphibian-like Nevians, resulting in the first interstellar war involving humans. In this story Virgil Samms and Roderick Kinnison, important members of the two breeding lines, are introduced.

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