AbeBooks Top SFF Sales in 2017 To Date

Every quarter collectibles bookseller AbeBooks posts its top 10 high ticket sales. While there wasn’t a notable genre sale in the first three months of the year, John Wyndham and Aldous Huxley have been making the cash registers ring since then.

The top 10 sales for April-June included:

  1. Chocky by John Wyndham – $11,443

A science fiction story about an alien, first published as a novella in 1963 in Amazing Stories. This copy was a scarce 1968 signed first edition of the book format published by Michael Joseph, and in near fine condition. The BBC adapted Wyndham’s story for radio in 1967. Chocky was Wyndham’s last published story during his lifetime – he died in March 1969. British author Wyndham is best known for his novels, The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids.

  1. = Letters from Aldous Huxley to Goddard Lieberson – $7,500

An exchange of letters between Huxley and Lieberson, president of Columbia Records from 1956 to 1971. Thirteen of the letters are either typed or autograph letters, signed, from Huxley, and the last two are autograph letters from Huxley’s second wife, Laura. Sixteen carbon copies of Lieberson’s typed letters to Huxley are also included. The letters span a significant portion of the end of Huxley’s life, from 1952 to 1963. Lieberson initially wrote to Huxley asking if he would like to be part of a series of recordings of authors reading their work, which already included Truman Capote. Huxley invited Lieberson to his house, in order to listen to some previous recordings, and the two became friends.

  1. = Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – $7,500

A first edition, first printing of Huxley’s most famous book in its dustjacket, published in 1932. Huxley’s New World was set in London in 2540 and predicts a variety of technologies concerning reproduction, learning, psychology, and conditioning. The author does not offer a positive view of the future.

And “AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales of July, August & September 2017” featured these sff works:

  1. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – $13,844

A 1951 UK first edition of this classic science fiction novel featuring killer plants wreaking havoc, published by Michael Joseph and in near fine condition complete with its dust jacket. Inscribed by Wyndham. The book belonged to Jim Burch was a science fiction fan and co-organizer of the 1951 Science Fiction Convention in London.

Note: An article about the London convention and a photo of Burch can be found at Rob Hansen’s website.

  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – $8,800

The 1969 edition illustrated by Salvador Dali. Limited to 2500 copies, this is # 2,386. Twelve surreal illustrations with original woodcuts and an original etching by Dali. Copies of this prized book regularly appear on this list. We recommend Princeton’s 2015 reprint if you don’t have thousands to spare.

Illustration by Salvador Dali in 1969 edition of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21 Rudolph the Scroll Nosed Reindeer

(1) SHE WAS ON WHAT KIND OF TRIP? The Mirror knows we can’t resist looking: “Woman ‘photobombed by alien’ during selfie on passenger jet on business trip”.

A woman has posted a selfie taken on a plane in which she claims she was photobombed – by an alien.

Olesya Podkorytov from the city of Kurgan in south-central Russia’s Kurgan Oblast region said she took the picture during the flight on a whim but when she posted it on social media friends pointed out something strange a few seats behind.

(2) BEFORE THERE WERE FOREHEAD CLOTHS. Movie bracket maven Hampus Eckerman pointed to this LA Times story, “’Young Frankenstein’ has new life on 40th anniversary”.

Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, “Young Frankenstein.”

“I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief,” said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. “I said, ‘When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.’ Every once in a while, I’d turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, ‘I got a hit.'”

“Young Frankenstein” was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.

(3) ‘TWAS CHITTY. Joined by Conan O’Brian, Dick Van Dyke and his a capella group, The Vantastix, sing the title song from his 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke recently turned 90 but he can still belt out a tune.

(4) THE TRANSOM IS SHUT. Tor.com will no longer consider unsolicited short fiction submissions effective January 7, 2016 reports Locus Online.

(5) C. S. LEWIS. Matthew David Surridge is doing a read-through of C.S. Lewis works at Black Gate. The first two parts are —

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part I: Boxen”

I have read some, though far from all, of Lewis’ non-fiction; I intend to talk about it only insofar as I see a bearing on his fiction. I’m interested in seeing what images, tones, ideas, and approaches unite a fairly disparate corpus of writing. I want to see how Lewis’ approach to storytelling developed over his life, and how motifs and themes recurred in his work. I hope that by doing this I’ll better understand his individual books. At any rate, I’ll begin here with a look at Lewis’ published juvenilia…

“Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part II: Spirits in Bondage”

Today, I want to go through Lewis’ first book, a collection of lyric poems called Spirits in Bondage, published in 1919 when Lewis was still an atheist.

Yesterday I quoted Lewis’ judgement in his 1955 autobiography Surprised by Joy that the Boxen tales are novelistic and not poetic. If that’s so, what did the older Lewis think about the poetry he wrote in his youth? Did he find wonder and romance in the verse of Spirits in Bondage and Dymer? Hard to judge. Lewis doesn’t mention either volume in Surprised by Joy. Which strikes me as a little odd.

(6) CAREER GUIDANCE. David Gerrold responded on Facebook to Dr. Mauser (thought not actually by name). Between his very funny lines about being a so-called internet blowhard and his thoroughly serious rebuttal comes good advice for writers about dealing with controversy.

1) Never never never never never get into feuds. Whatever credibility you might have, you are automatically lending it to anyone you feud with because you are implying they are of equal validity, when most of the time they are not. People who enjoy feuds are automatically downgrading their credibility.

2) If you must respond, focus solely on the issue. Do not get into any personal remarks of any kind. Discuss issues only, not personalities. (This is because everyone has issues, not everyone has a personality.)

3) Never vilify a whole class or group of people — this generalization assumes that everyone in that class or group thinks and acts alike, that they are a monolithic army of clones. They are not. (I have stumbled here, more than once, and have now learned this lesson very well.)

And finally,

4) Always demand evidence.

(7) COMICS HUGO. George R.R. Martin has “More Hugo Ruminations” at Not A Blog.

I really don’t think we needed to add a Graphic Story category to the Hugo Awards. Comics have their own awards, the Eisners, they don’t need the Hugo too. Besides, most SF fans do not follow comics closely enough to make informed judgements in this area.

That being said, however, I have to concede that the fans did pretty damned well nominating in this category last year. SAGA was the only one of the finalists that I had actually heard of before Sasquan announced last year’s ballot… but I dutifully read all the others before I voted, and for the most part, I was impressed (okay, not by the Puppy nominee, which was several notches below the other four)… especially by MS. MARVEL, a whole new take on the character (actually a whole new character with an old name), a charming new addition to the Marvel universe, and the eventual winner.

So… I still don’t love Graphic Novel as a Hugo category, but it exists, and those who follow the field more closely than me should nominate Good Stuff here again, and maybe I’ll have more comic books to discover and delight in when the final ballot comes out.

Meanwhile, I do have one truly outstanding graphic novel to suggest… I am not totally disconnected from the world of comics, y’see… and that’s a book called THE SCULPTOR, by Scott McCloud….

(8) TOWERING TRAILER. The movie High-Rise is based on a J.G. Ballard novel.

(9) Today In History

Doctor Who fans may not be surprised to discover that those forceful characters the Daleks appear to be the only one of the Doctor’s enemies to have been given their own celebratory day. Dalek Day is held on 21st December each year. This date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Daleks because they made their first TV appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963. The official title of Dalek Day is the International Dalek Remembrance Day. There does not appear to be any regular organised celebrations each year to commemorate Dalek Day and it is unclear whether Dalek supporters meet or actually even dress up in Dalek costumes. Many of their fans appear to celebrate Dalek Day at home by having a Doctor Who marathon and watching again their favourite episodes with the Daleks battling against the Doctor.

  • December 21, 1937 — Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature film, opened in Los Angeles.
  • December 21, 1984Don’t Open ‘Till Christmas opens slightly before Christmas.

(10) NO ROOM IN THE FUTURE FOR RANDY GARRETT. The Traveler at Galactic Journey reviews the January 1961 Analog in a manner that makes a reader wonder if this blog theme is a good fit for somebody who hates a prolific author for the most popular prozine of its time. Not because The Traveler ought to like something he doesn’t, but who’s going to want to hear about it every month?

Thus, it is too early to tell whether or not Analog is ever going to pull itself out of its literary doldrums.  I had such high hopes after December’s issue; January’s has dashed them.

It doesn’t help that Randall Garrett is still one of Campbell’s favorite writers.  I’m not sure if Garrett’s stories are lousy because Campbell tells Garrett what he should write, or if they’re lousy because Garrett writes what he knows Campbell will take.  Or maybe Garrett and Campbell independently share awful taste.  In any event, the long long lead novella, The Highest Treason, is a one-star drek-fest if ever there was one.

(11) TIX FOR RADIO PERFORMANCE OF WYNDHAM. Tickets are available to attend a live recording of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes by BBC4 with the BBC Philharmonic. The event will be Friday, January 8, 2016 at MediaCityUK in Salford. Ticket applications are open until December 27.

Join the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Radio 4 for radio drama, The Kraken Wakes. This modern retelling of John Wyndham’s 1953 apocalyptic novel, is adapted by crime writer and dramatist Val McDermid and stars Tamsin Greig, Paul Higgins and Richard Harrington.

This is a rare chance to see a radio drama recorded for Radio 4 with a live orchestral accompaniment from the BBC Philharmonic.

Composer Alan Edward Williams has created a brand new orchestral score that will ‘play the part’ of the great sea monster during the performance.

The Kraken Wakes will be recorded as a live performance in two parts. The drama will then be broadcast later in the year on BBC Radio 4.

(12) CLASSIC RADIO SF. Open Culture helps you “Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays”.

As you can probably tell if you’ve interacted with any of his hard-core fans, the science fiction of Philip K. Dick has a way of getting into readers’ heads. What better way to adapt it, then, than in the medium of radio drama, with its direct route into the head through the ears? Science fiction in general provided radio drama with a good deal of bread-and-butter subject matter since pretty much its inception, and suitably so: its producers didn’t have to bother designing distant worlds, alien races and elaborately futuristic technologies when, with the right sound design, the listeners would design it all themselves in their imaginations.

From the series Mind Webs, which ran on Wisconsin public radio, “The Preserving Machine,” “Impostor,” and “The Builder.” From X Minus One, “Colony” and “The Defenders.”From Sci-Fi Radio, “Sales Pitch.”

(13) FRANCHISE SF. The Documentary, on BBC’s World Service, has posted its 56-minute feature “Homer, Hagrid and the Incredible Hulk”.

Ben Hammersley meets creators and fans to investigate how extended fictional universes, from Star Wars and Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, took over global culture. He examines the huge financial success of the world’s biggest franchises, and argues that their stories – the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father, for example – have become common cultural touchstones around the world.

To understand how these expansive fictional universes are created and maintained, Ben visits professor Dumbledore’s office to talk to Stuart Craig, production designer on the Harry Potter films. He goes to Los Angeles to meet Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And, he travels to San Diego Comic Con where he discusses a number of different universes with Marc Zicree, writer on numerous film and TV series, including Star Trek.

Ben also speaks to authors Robin Hobb and Warren Ellis, and to Axel Alonso and Ryan Penagos from Marvel. He hears from numerous fans, including Game of Thrones super-fans Linda Antonsson and Elio Garcia about the joys of fandom.

(14) NON-REALISTIC SF ART. Joachim Boaz’ “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Jack Gaughan’s Covers For Walker & Co. (1969-1970)” revisits covers of books I remember borrowing from the library when I was in high school.

Some famous novels are graced by his covers: James Blish’s A Case of Conscience (1958), Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961), Silverberg’s Nightwings (1968), Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969).

Stainless Steel Rat cover Gaughan

Titles in this art sequence without suitable images online: A Gift from Earth (1968), Re-Birth (1955), All Judgement Fled (1968), Trouble with Lichen (1960), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957).

(15) MAGIC NUMBER. Obviously I must mention something titled “Five for 2015: 5 TV Characters of the Year”, Jon Morgan’s post on Pornokitsch. Under discussion are Agent Carter, Phyrne Fisher, Jessica Jones, Kimmy Schmidt and Cat Grant.

(16) HE SLEIGHS ME. At Whatever, John Scalzi has an “Interview With Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler”.

Q: We could talk about that. I mean, the general violation of physics that goes on around the whole Santa’s sleigh thing.

A: Look, I don’t pretend to know the science of the flying sleigh thing, okay? That’s not my job. You can ask Santa’s physicists about it if you want.

Q: Santa has physicists on staff?

A: Of course he does. He’s one of the largest recruiters of physicists outside of NASA. What, you thought all this happened because of magic?

Q: Well, now that you mention it, yes. Yes, I did.

(17) MALCONTENT WARNING. Darth Santa…. Great production values for a video whose humor may leave you a little ill. Or laughing your ass off, depending on what meds you’ve taken today.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nigel, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day redheadedfemme.]

Another Day, Another Triffid

John WyndhamThere’s a highly-readable article on the BBC News site about movie-makers’ fascination with worlds doomed by science run amok:

A new BBC adaptation is being made of The Day of the Triffids, but why are we still prepared to believe in a post-apocalyptic world roamed by flesh-eating semi-sentient plants? And do we have a love affair with fictionalised destruction?

Andy Sawyer, librarian at the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool, is quoted. That sparked my curiosity – I corresponded with George Hay a little in the early days of the SFF. These days the SF Foundation‘s good works include their support of an sf research website. Its home page currently features Triffids author John Wyndham.