Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Copy Of The Star Fox

My copy of Poul Anderson's The Star Fox is the one shown in the image, a British Panther paperback published in 1968, two years after the Gollancz hardback. The publishing details include the information that the text is copyright Poul Anderson 1964, 1965 and that "These stories..." had appeared in a different form in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1965. I had almost no access to American sf magazines back then but do remember reading the first installment in F&SF.

"These stories...," unless it is simply a mistake, suggests that this text did not originate as a single novel. I think that this was true of most sf back then: stories were published in magazines before they were collected; novels were serialized in magazines before they were published as books. Since I have almost completely non-visual thought processes, I pay little attention to book covers but, now that my attention has been drawn to it, I cannot help asking: what is that meant to be on the Panther cover?

Usually, when discussing a novel, we refer to the text as if it existed in a universally accessible ideal space and mention reference details, place and date of publication and page number, to validate our quotations and substantiate our arguments. If a book is out of print and cannot be easily accessed by readers of any references to it, then old and second hand copies gain in significance and it is interesting to reflect on some of their dated idiosyncrasies, like that cover. Googling reveals covers of several other editions that can also be used to illustrate posts.

The 1968 blurb describes Poul Anderson as a young sf writer who has already won the Hugo Award twice. I am reminded that the hero has the fine sounding name of Gunnar Heim, that there is a World Federation, an alien race called the Aleriona and a human colony planet called New Europe. Read on...

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