Unknown (magazine)

Unknown (also known as Unknown Worlds) was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

Campbell required his authors to avoid simplistic horror fiction and insisted that the fantasy elements in a story be developed logically: for example, Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" describes a world in which there is a scientific explanation for the existence of werewolves. Similarly, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's Harold Shea series, about a modern American who finds himself in the worlds of various mythologies, depicts a system of magic based on mathematical logic. Other notable stories included several well-received novels by L. Ron Hubbard and short stories such as Manly Wade Wellman's "When It Was Moonlight" and Fritz Leiber's "Two Sought Adventure", the first in his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.

Unknown was forced to a bimonthly schedule in 1941 by poor sales, and cancelled in 1943 when wartime paper shortages became so acute that Campbell had to choose between turning Astounding into a bimonthly or ending Unknown. The magazine is generally regarded as the finest fantasy fiction magazine ever published, despite the fact that it was not commercially successful, and in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley it was responsible for the creation of the modern fantasy publishing genre.

Unknown
Magazine cover - Unknown no. 1 (1939-03)
The first issue of Unknown; cover art by H. W. Scott
EditorJohn W. Campbell
CategoriesFantasy fiction magazine
Year founded1939
Final issue1943
CompanyStreet & Smith
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Background and publication history

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1939 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 2/1 2/2 2/3 2/4
1940 2/5 2/6 3/1 3/2 3/3 3/4 3/5 3/6 4/1 4/2 4/3 4/4
1941 4/5 4/6 5/1 5/2 5/3 5/4
1942 5/5 5/6 6/1 6/2 6/3 6/4
1943 6/5 6/6 7/1 7/2 7/3
Issues of Unknown, showing volume/issue number. John W. Campbell was
editor throughout.[1]

In May 1923, the first issue of Weird Tales appeared, from Rural Publications in Chicago. Weird Tales was a pulp magazine that specialized in fantasy stories and material that no other magazine would accept. It was not initially successful, but by the 1930s had established itself and was regularly publishing science fiction (sf) as well as fantasy.[2] Weird Tales was the first magazine to focus solely on fantasy, and it remained the pre-eminent magazine in this field for over a decade.[3][4] In the meantime, science fiction was starting to form a separately marketed genre, with the appearance in 1926 of Amazing Stories, a pulp magazine edited by Hugo Gernsback. In 1930 pulp publisher Clayton Publications launched Astounding Stories of Super Science,[5] but the company's bankruptcy in 1933 led to the acquisition of the magazine by Street & Smith.[6] The title was shortened to Astounding Stories, and it became the leading magazine in the science fiction field over the next few years under the editorship of F. Orlin Tremaine.[7][8] At the end of 1937 John W. Campbell took over as editor.[8]

By 1938, Campbell was planning a fantasy companion to Astounding:[9] Weird Tales was still the leader in the fantasy genre, though competitors such as Strange Stories were also being launched.[4] Campbell began acquiring stories suitable for the new magazine, without a definite launch date in mind. When Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, Campbell decided it was time to put his plans into action. The first issue of Unknown appeared in March 1939. It was a monthly at first, but poor sales forced a switch to a bimonthly schedule beginning in February 1941.[9][10] In December 1940 the subtitle Fantasy Fiction was added, and in October 1941 the main title was changed to Unknown Worlds;[9] both changes were intended to make the genre of the magazine clearer to potential readers.[11] When wartime paper shortages became severe in late 1943, Campbell made the choice to keep Astounding monthly and cancel Unknown, rather than switch the former to a bimonthly schedule as well. The last issue was dated October 1943.[9][10]

Contents and reception

Campbell's plans for Unknown were laid out in the February 1939 issue of Astounding, in the announcement of the new magazine. He argued that "it has been the quality of the fantasy that you have read in the past that has made the very word anathema ... [Unknown] will offer fantasy of a quality so far different from that which has appeared in the past as to change your entire understanding of the term".[9] The first issue, the following month, led with Russell's Sinister Barrier,[note 1] the novel that had persuaded Campbell to set his plans for a fantasy magazine into motion: the plot, involving aliens who own the human race,[9] has been described by sf historian Mike Ashley as "a strange mixture of science fiction and occult fantasy".[4] Campbell asked Russell for revisions to the story to emphasize the fantastic elements, but still demanded that Russell work out the logical implications of his premises. This became a defining characteristic of the fiction published in Unknown; in Ashley's words, Campbell "brought the science fiction rationale to fantasy".[4] The first issue also contained Horace L. Gold's "Trouble with Water", a comic fantasy about a modern New Yorker who offends a water gnome; in its whimsicality and naturalistic merging of a modern background with a classic fantasy trope, "Trouble with Water" was a better indication than Sinister Barrier of the direction Unknown would take.[12] Campbell commented in a letter at the time that Sinister Barrier, "Trouble with Water", and "'Where Angels Fear ...'" by Manly Wade Wellman were the only stories in the first issue that accurately reflected his goals for the magazine.[13][note 2]

Under Campbell's editorial supervision, the fantasy element in Unknown stories had to be treated rigorously.[12] This naturally led to the appearance in Unknown of writers already comfortable with similar rigor in science fiction stories, and Campbell soon established a small group of writers as regular contributors, many of whom were also appearing in the pages of Astounding.[12] L. Ron Hubbard, Theodore Sturgeon, and L. Sprague de Camp were among the most prolific.[9][12] Hubbard contributed eight lead novels including Typewriter in the Sky, Slaves of Sleep, and Fear, described by Ashley as a "classic psychological thriller";[12] sf historian and critic Thomas Clareson describes all eight as "outstanding".[9] De Camp, in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt, contributed three stories featuring Harold Shea, who finds himself in a world where magic operates by rigorous rules.[9][14] The title of one of these, "The Mathematics of Magic", is, according to sf critic John Clute, "perfectly expressive of the terms under which magic found easy mention in Unknown".[15]

Unknown February 1942 cover
Cover for the February 1942 issue—an example of the more dignified cover layout that was adopted in July 1940

Other Astounding writers who wrote for Unknown included Robert A. Heinlein, whose "The Devil Makes the Law" (reprinted as "Magic, Inc.") depicts a world where magic is a part of normal everyday life.[12] Heinlein also contributed "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" and "They", described by Ashley as "perhaps the ultimate solipsist fantasy".[16] A.E. van Vogt, a frequent Astounding contributor, appeared in the final issue with "The Book of Ptath" (later expanded into a novel).[12][17] Isaac Asimov, despite multiple attempts to write for Unknown, never appeared in the magazine. On his sixth attempt, he sold "Author! Author!" to Campbell, but the magazine was cancelled before it could appear.[18] It eventually appeared in the anthology The Unknown Five.[19]

In addition to the overlap between the writers of Unknown and Astounding, there was a good deal of overlap between their readerships:[20] Asimov records that during the war, he read only these two magazines.[21][note 3] Sf historian Paul Carter has argued that the spectrum of fantastic fiction from Weird Tales through Unknown to Astounding was far less cleanly separated than is sometimes assumed: many stories in the early science fiction magazines such as Wonder Stories were more like the works of Edgar Allan Poe than they were tales of scientific imagination.[20]

Fritz Leiber's first published story was "Two Sought Adventure", which appeared in the August 1939 issue of Unknown; this was the first story in his long-running Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series about a pair of adventurers in a sword and sorcery setting. Four more Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories appeared in Unknown in as many years, and Leiber's novel Conjure Wife, about a man who discovers that all women are secretly witches, was the lead story in the April 1943 issue. The protagonist, a university professor, "is forced to abandon scepticism and discover the underlying equations of magic, via symbolic logic", in critic David Langford's description.[22] Leiber also contributed "Smoke Ghost" in October 1941, described by Ashley as "arguably the first seriously modern ghost story".[14] Another writer whose first story appeared in Unknown was James H. Schmitz, whose "Greenface" appeared in the August 1943 issue.[17][23]

Other notable stories that appeared in Unknown include Jack Williamson's "Darker Than You Think" (December 1940), which provides a scientific basis for a race of werewolves living undetected alongside human beings. Expanded into a novel in 1948, it remains Williamson's best-known fantasy, and sf historian Malcolm Edwards comments that the two protagonists' relationship is "depicted with a tortured (and still haunting) erotic frankness unusual in genre literature of the 1940s".[4][24] In addition to the Harold Shea pieces, de Camp published several other well-received stories, including "The Wheels of If" (October 1940) and "Lest Darkness Fall" (December 1939), an alternate history story about a time-traveler who attempts to save the Roman Empire from the coming Dark Ages; Edwards and Clute comment that the story is "the most accomplished early excursion into history in magazine sf, and is regarded as a classic".[15][25] Also highly regarded is Wellman's "When It Was Moonlight" (December 1940), a story about Poe.[4]

The first sixteen issues of Unknown had cover paintings, but from July 1940 the cover style was changed to a table of contents, with a small ink drawing usually accompanying the summary of each story, in an attempt to make the magazine appear more dignified.[12][17] The cover art came almost entirely from artists who did not contribute to many science fiction or fantasy magazines: six of the sixteen paintings were by H. W. Scott; Manuel Islip, Modest Stein, Graves Gladney, and Edd Cartier provided the others. Cartier was the only one of these who regularly contributed to sf and fantasy periodicals; he painted four of Unknown's last six covers before the change to a text-heavy design.[26]

Influence

Cartier Fear illo Unknown July 1940
Illustration by Edd Cartier for L. Ron Hubbard's "Fear" (July 1940)

Unknown was, along with Weird Tales, an important early influence on the fantasy genre.[14] In the foreword to From Unknown Worlds, in 1948, Campbell commented that fantasy before Unknown had been too much infused with "gloom and terror"; his approach in Unknown had been to assume that the "creatures of mythology and folklore" could be characters in an amusing tale as easily as they could be made part of a horror story. Horror stories, he said, had a place, but "horror injected with a sharp and poisoned needle is just as effective as when applied with the blunt-instrument technique of the so-called Gothic horror tale". Campbell insisted on the same rational approach to fantasy that he required of his science fiction writers, and in the words of Clareson, this led to the destruction of "not only the prevalent narrative tone but also most of the trappings that had dominated fantasy from The Castle of Otranto and The Monk through the nineteenth century to Weird Tales".[9] Unknown quickly separated itself from Weird Tales, whose fantasies still primarily aimed to produce fear or shock. The closest predecessor to Unknown was Thorne Smith, whose prohibition-era "Topper" stories also mixed fantasy with humor.[14] Before Unknown, fantasy had received little serious attention, though on occasion writers such as James Branch Cabell had achieved respectability.[14] In Ashley's opinion, Unknown created the modern genre of fantasy,[14] though commercial success for the genre had to wait until the 1970s.[27]

Clareson also suggests that Unknown influenced the science fiction that appeared in Astounding after Unknown folded. According to this view, stories such as Clifford Simak's City series would not have appeared without the destruction of genre boundaries that Campbell oversaw. Clareson further proposes that Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, two of the most important and successful science fiction and fantasy magazines, were direct descendants of Unknown.[9]

Unknown is widely regarded as the finest fantasy magazine ever published:[14] Ashley says, for example, that "Unknown published without doubt the greatest collection of fantasy stories produced in one magazine."[28] Despite its lack of commercial success, Unknown is the most lamented of all science fiction and fantasy magazines; Lester del Rey describes it as having gained "a devotion from its readers that no other magazine can match".[29] Edwards comments that Unknown "appeared during Campbell's peak years as an editor; its reputation may stand as high as it does partly because it died while still at its best".[12]

In a conversation with David G. Hartwell in 1962, Shirley Jackson stated she owned a complete run of Unknown and expressed strong admiration for the publication, stating "It's the best".[30]

Bibliographic details

Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1939 2/1 2/2 2/3 2/4
1940 2/5 2/6 3/1 3/2 3/3 3/4 3/5 3/6 4/1 4/2 4/3 4/4
1941 4/5 4/6
1942 5/5 6/1 6/3
1943 6/4 6/5 (nn)
1944 (nn) (nn) (nn)
1945 3/4 3/5 3/6
1946 3/7 3/8
1947 3/9 3/10 3/11
1948 3/12 4/1 4/2
1949 4/3 4/4 4/5
Issues of the British reprint of Unknown, showing volume/issue number.
Underlining indicates that an issue was dated with the season ("Spring 1945")
rather than the month. John W. Campbell was editor throughout.[1]

Unknown was edited by John W. Campbell and published by Street & Smith Publications throughout its run. It was pulp-sized from its launch through August 1941, and then bedsheet-sized from October 1941 to April 1943. The last three issues were pulp-sized again.[9] Street & Smith had planned to switch it to digest size with the December 1943 issue, but it was cancelled before that issue appeared.[12] The price began at 20 cents and rose to 25 cents with the change to bedsheet size; it remained at 25 cents when the size changed back to pulp. It had 164 pages when pulp-sized and 130 pages while it was bedsheet-sized. It began as a monthly and switched to bimonthly from December 1940 on.[9] The volume numbering was regular, with six volumes of six numbers and a final volume of three numbers.[1] The title began as simply Unknown. In December 1940 "Fantasy Fiction" was added as a subtitle, and from the October 1941 issue the title became Unknown Worlds.[11]

The first six U.S. issues were available directly in the UK, but thereafter an abridged British reprint edition was issued by Atlas Publications, beginning in September 1939. It was pulp-sized, and priced at 9d (nine pence) throughout. It appeared on a regular monthly schedule until December 1940, after which the schedule became quite irregular, with two or three issues appearing each year until 1949. The volume numbering initially followed the corresponding U.S. editions, with some omitted numbers in 1942 and 1943, and then disappeared for four issues; from the twenty-eighth issue (Spring 1945) the magazine was numbered as if it had been given volumes of twelve numbers since the start of the run. The title was changed from Unknown to Unknown Worlds with the March 1942 issue.[1][9]

Related publications

In 1948, Street & Smith reprinted several stories from Unknown in a bedsheet-sized magazine format, priced at 25 cents, with the title From Unknown Worlds. This was an attempt to determine if there was a market for a revived Unknown.[1][31] Street & Smith printed 300,000 copies, against the advice of John Campbell, but although it sold better than the original, too many copies were returned for the publisher to be willing to revive the magazine.[31] The issue was reprinted in Britain in 1952, reduced in size to 7 by 9.5 inches (180 mm × 240 mm) and cut from 130 pages to 124; it was priced at 2/6 (two shillings and six pence). Part of the run was issued in a hardcover binding at a higher price. One story from the U.S. version was omitted: "One Man's Harp" by Babette Rosmond.[1][9][32]

Three anthologies of stories from Unknown were published in the early 1960s.[12][19][33] The Unknown Five includes four stories reprinted from Unknown and the first print appearance of "Author! Author!", by Isaac Asimov, which was sold to Unknown shortly before Street & Smith shut it down.[18] Two additional Unknown anthologies were published in the late 1980s.

Year Editor Title Publisher Length and price
1948 John W. Campbell, Jr. From Unknown Worlds Street & Smith: New York 130 pp.; 25¢
1963 D. R. Bensen The Unknown Pyramid: New York 192 pp.; 50¢
1963 George Hay Hell Hath Fury Neville Spearman: London 240 pp.; 15/-
1964 D. R. Bensen The Unknown Five Pyramid: New York 190 pp.; 50¢
1988 Stanley Schmidt Unknown Baen Books: New York 304 pp.; $3.50
1989 Stanley Schmidt, Martin H. Greenberg Unknown Worlds: Tales from Beyond Galahad Books: New York 517 pp.; $9.98

Notes

  1. ^ Russell's original title was Forbidden Acres.[4]
  2. ^ In the letter, to early contributor L. Ron Hubbard, Campbell asks Hubbard for a story with an Arabian Nights theme and comments that "Death Sentence" by Robert Moore Williams and "Dark Vision" by Frank Belknap Long are next in quality, while "Who Wants Power?" by Mona Farnsworth and "Closed Doors" by A. MacFadyen Jr. were merely "filling space ... acceptably".[13]
  3. ^ Asimov regarded Unknown as his favorite magazine and always kept up to date reading it, while he might be several issues behind on reading Astounding.[21]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Unknown Worlds", in Tuck, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 3, pp. 582–583.
  2. ^ Robert Weinberg, "Weird Tales", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 727–736.
  3. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, p. 41.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Ashley, Time Machines, pp. 140–141.
  5. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, p. 69.
  6. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, p. 82.
  7. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, pp. 84–85.
  8. ^ a b Albert I. Berger & Mike Ashley, "Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 60–103.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Thomas D. Clareson, "Unknown", in Tymn & Ashley, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines, pp. 694–699.
  10. ^ a b Asimov, In Memory Yet Green, p. 390.
  11. ^ a b Kyle, Pictorial History of Science Fiction, p. 109.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Malcolm Edwards, "Unknown", in Clute & Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, pp. 1258–1259.
  13. ^ a b Chapdelaine, John W. Campbell Letters, p. 44.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Mike Ashley, Unknown, in Clute & Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy, p. 974.
  15. ^ a b John Clute, "Lyon Sprague de Camp", in Clute & Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy, pp. 257–258.
  16. ^ Mike Ashley, "Robert A. Heinlein", in Clute & Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy, p. 406.
  17. ^ a b c See the individual issues. For convenience, an online index is available at "Magazine:Unknown — ISFDB". Al von Ruff. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  18. ^ a b Asimov, In Memory Yet Green, pp. 380, 390.
  19. ^ a b "Donald R. Bensen", in Tuck, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 1, p. 39.
  20. ^ a b Carter, Creation of Tomorrow, pp. 25–26.
  21. ^ a b Asimov, In Memory Yet Green, p. 379.
  22. ^ David Langford, "Fritz Leiber", in Clute & Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy, pp. 573–574.
  23. ^ del Rey, World of Science Fiction, p. 113.
  24. ^ John Clute, "Jack Williamson", in Clute & Grant, Encyclopedia of Fantasy, p. 1018.
  25. ^ Malcolm Edwards & John Clute, "L. Sprague de Camp", in Clute & Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, pp. 308–310.
  26. ^ Ashley, Time Machines, pp. 266–282.
  27. ^ Brian Stableford & Peter Nicholls, "Fantasy", in Clute & Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, p. 410.
  28. ^ Ashley, History of the Science Fiction Magazine Vol. 2, p. 40.
  29. ^ del Rey, World of Science Fiction, p. 96.
  30. ^ Hartwell, The Dark Descent, pp. 108.
  31. ^ a b del Rey, World of Science Fiction, p. 299.
  32. ^ Currey, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors, pp. 99–100.
  33. ^ "George Hay", in Tuck, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 1, p. 211.

Sources

  • Ashley, Michael (1976) [First edition 1975]. The History of the Science Fiction Magazine Vol. 2 1936–1945. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company. ISBN 0-8092-8002-7.
  • Ashley, Mike (2000). The Time Machines:The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the beginning to 1950. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-865-0.
  • Asimov, Isaac (1979). In Memory Yet Green. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-13679-X.
  • Carter, Paul A. (1977). The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04211-6.
  • Chapdelaine, Perry A.; Chapdelaine, Tony; Hay, George (1985). The John W. Campbell Letters: Volume 1. Franklin, TN: AC Projects. ISBN 0-931150-16-7.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Clute, John; Grant, John (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. ISBN 0-312-15897-1.
  • Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. ISBN 0-312-09618-6.
  • Currey, Lloyd W. (1978). Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co. ISBN 0-8161-8242-6.
  • del Rey, Lester (1979). The World of Science Fiction: 1926–1976: The History of a Subculture. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25452-X.
  • Hartwell, David G. (1987). The Dark Descent. New York: T. Doherty Associates. ISBN 0-312-93035-6.
  • Kyle, David (1977). The Pictorial History of Science Fiction. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-38193-5.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. 1. Chicago: Advent: Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1982). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. 3. Chicago: Advent: Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-911682-26-0.
  • Tymn, Marshall B.; Ashley, Mike (1985). Science Fiction, Fantasy and Weird Fiction Magazines. Westport CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-21221-X.
Death's Deputy

Death's Deputy is a fantasy novel by author L. Ron Hubbard.Death's Deputy was first published in book form in 1948 by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in an edition of 700 copies. The novel originally appeared in the February 1940 issue of the magazine Unknown.

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).

Fear (Hubbard novella)

Fear is a psychological thriller-horror novella by L. Ron Hubbard first appearing in Unknown Fantasy Fiction in July 1940. While previous editions followed the magazine text, the 1991 Bridge edition reportedly restores the author's original manuscript text. The novella is ranked 10th on Modern Library 100 Best Novels - The Reader's List.

Land of Unreason

Land of Unreason is a fantasy novel by American writers Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds for October, 1941 as "The Land of Unreason". Revised and expanded, it was first published in book form by Henry Holt and Company in 1942. It has been reprinted numerous times since by various publishers, including by Ballantine Books in January 1970 as the tenth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. 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.

Lest Darkness Fall

Lest Darkness Fall is an alternate history science fiction novel written in 1939 by author L. Sprague de Camp. The book is often considered one of the best examples of the alternate history genre; it is certainly one of the earliest and most influential. Prominent alternate history author Harry Turtledove has said it sparked his interest in the genre as well as his desire to study Byzantine history.Lest Darkness Fall is similar in concept to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

None but Lucifer

None but Lucifer is a fantasy novel by American writers Horace L. Gold and L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown in September 1939. Despite its good reception by the readership and the prominence of its authors (Gold was the founding editor of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, and de Camp quickly became a leading light of science fiction and fantasy during those genres' "golden age"), the book remained unpublished in book form for over sixty years, until finally issued as a trade paperback by Gateways Retro Science Fiction in 2002. It is also available as an electronic publication.

Nothing in the Rules

"Nothing in the Rules" is a contemporary fantasy story by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the magazine Unknown for July, 1939. It first appeared in book form in the anthology From Unknown Worlds (Street & Smith, 1948). It later appeared in the collections The Reluctant Shaman and Other Fantastic Tales (Pyramid, 1970), The Best of L. Sprague de Camp (Doubleday, 1978), and Aristotle and the Gun and Other Stories (Five Star, 2002), as well as the anthologies The Fantasy Hall of Fame (Arbor House, 1983), The Science Fictional Olympics (Signet, 1984), Mermaids! (Ace Books, 1986), Unknown (Baen, 1988) and The Fantasy Hall of Fame (HarperPrism, 1998) (a different anthology from the 1983 book of the same title). The story has been translated into French, German, and Italian.

Slaves of Sleep

Slaves of Sleep is a heroic fantasy novel written by L. Ron Hubbard. It was first published in book form in 1948 by Shasta Publishers; the novel originally appeared in 1939 in an issue of the magazine Unknown. The novel presents a story in which a man travels to a parallel universe ruled by Ifrits. The protagonist takes on the identity of a human in this dimension, and becomes involved in the politics of Ifrits in this fictional "Arabian Nights" world.

Solomon's Stone

Solomon's Stone is a fantasy novel by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the magazine Unknown Worlds in June 1942. It was reprinted in the Summer 1949 issue of the British edition of Unknown, and then published in book form by Avalon Books in 1957.After an unintentionally successful demon-summoning, accountant Prosper Nash finds himself on the astral plane, inhabiting the body of Jean-Prospere, Chevalier de Néche—the swashbuckling cavalier he likes to imagine himself as—and in by a New York filled with characters from similar wish-fulfillment daydreams of other mundane souls. The demon is possessing his body on a mundane plane, and he attempts to find his way back. This involves the Shamir, the Solomon's Stone of the title, and plentiful swashbuckling adventure, and a plot in which Prosper Nash's accounting abilities prove as useful as Chevalier de Néche's athletic ones.

The Castle of Iron

The Castle of Iron is the title of a fantasy novella by American authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, and of the novel into which it was later expanded by the same authors. It was the third story (and afterwards the second volume) in their Harold Shea series. As a 35,000 word novella it was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown for April, 1941. The revised and expanded novel version was first published in hardcover by Gnome Press in 1950, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1962. The book has been reprinted by a number of other publishers since its first appearance. 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. The novel has been combined with other books in the series in the omnibus editions The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989) and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has also been translated into Italian.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In The Castle of Iron, the authors' protagonist Harold Shea visits two such worlds, first (briefly) that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan and second that of Ludovico Ariosto's epic, the Orlando Furioso.

The Compleat Enchanter

The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea is an omnibus collection of three fantasy stories by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, gathering material previously published in two volumes as The Incomplete Enchanter (1941) and The Castle of Iron (1950), the first two books in their Harold Shea series, with the essay "Fletcher and I", de Camp's paean to his deceased collaborator. The collection was first published in hardcover by Nelson Doubleday in 1975 as an offering for its Science Fiction Book Club, and was reissued in paperback by Del Rey Books in 1976. Minus the essay, it has more recently been combined with Wall of Serpents (1960), the third book of the series in the omnibus edition The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989). This book had been left out of The Compleat Enchanter due to "considerations of space and …contractual considerations". The stories in the collection were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940 and April 1941.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. Psychologist Harold Shea and his colleagues Reed Chalmers, Walter Bayard, and Vaclav Polacek ("Votsy), travel to several such worlds, joined in the course of their adventures by Belphebe and Florimel of Faerie, who become the wives of Shea and Chalmers, and Pete Brodsky, a policeman who is accidentally swept up into the chaos. The three stories collected in The Compleat Enchanter explore the worlds of Norse mythology in "The Roaring Trumpet", Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in "The Mathematics of Magic", and Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (with a brief stop in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan) in "The Castle of Iron".

The Gnarly Man

"The Gnarly Man" is a science fiction story by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, about an apparently immortal Neanderthal Man surviving into the present day.

The Hardwood Pile

"The Hardwood Pile" is a contemporary fantasy story by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the magazine Unknown for September, 1940. It first appeared in book form in the collection The Reluctant Shaman and Other Fantastic Tales (Pyramid, 1970); it later appeared in the collection The Best of L. Sprague de Camp (Doubleday, 1978), and the anthology Bestiary! (Ace Books, 1985) The story has been translated into French and German.

The Incomplete Enchanter

The Incomplete Enchanter is a collection of two fantasy novellas by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the first volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940. The collection was first published in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941 and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960.

The Mathematics of Magic

"The Mathematics of Magic" is a fantasy novella by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the second story in their Harold Shea series. It was first published in the August 1940 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Unknown. It first appeared in book form, together with the preceding novella, "The Roaring Trumpet", in the collection The Incomplete Enchanter, issued in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960. It has since been reprinted in various collections by numerous other publishers, including The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Incompleat Enchanter (1979), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Dutch and Italian. In 2016, the story was shortlisted for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In "The Mathematics of Magic", Shea visits his second such world, that of Edmund Spenser's epic poem The Faerie Queene.

The Roaring Trumpet

"The Roaring Trumpet" is a fantasy novella by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. The initial story in their Harold Shea series, it was first published in the May 1940 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Unknown. It first appeared in book form, together with its sequel, "The Mathematics of Magic", in the collection The Incomplete Enchanter, issued in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960. It has since been reprinted in various collections by numerous other publishers, including The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Incompleat Enchanter (1979), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Dutch and Italian. In 2016, the story was shortlisted for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In "The Roaring Trumpet", Shea visits his first such world, that of Norse mythology.

The Undesired Princess

The Undesired Princess is a 51,000 word fantasy novella by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds for February 1942. It was published in book form by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in 1951. The book version also includes the 10,000 word fantasy short story "Mr. Arson", first published in Unknown for December 1941. The book (including both stories) was bound together with Stanley G. Weinbaum's The Dark Other in the omnibus collection Fantasy Twin by the same publisher in 1953. The title story was also published in paperback by Baen Books in 1990 together with David Drake's story The Enchanted Bunny, under the combined title The Undesired Princess & the Enchanted Bunny.The first stand-alone edition of the title story was published as an E-book 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 product description indicates that the e-edition is based on the Baen publication, and includes the Drake story in addition to the title story; however, the Drake story is not in fact included.

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally published in the October 1942 edition of Unknown Worlds magazine under the pseudonym of "John Riverside". It also lends its title to a collection of Heinlein's short stories published in 1959.

The Wheels of If

"The Wheels of If" is an alternate history science fiction story by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the magazine Unknown Fantasy Fiction for October, 1940, and first appeared in book form in de Camp's collection The Wheels of If and Other Science Fiction (Shasta, 1940). It later appeared in the paperback edition of the collection published by Berkley Books in 1970, in de Camp's subsequent collections The Virgin & the Wheels (Popular Library, 1976) and Years in the Making: the Time-Travel Stories of L. Sprague de Camp (NESFA Press, 2005), and in the anthology Unknown Worlds: Tales from Beyond (Galahad Books, 1989). It also appeared, together with a sequel by Harry Turtledove, in The Pugnacious Peacemaker/The Wheels of If (Tor Books, 1990) and Down in the Bottomlands and Other Places (Baen Books, 1999). The story has also been translated into German.

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