Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pebble in the Sky and other Modern First Editions....

So I'm finally starting to settle back into some sort of routine (and of course, after I write that, I realize that NO I haven't settled into a schedule yet -- this week I have to get all the details worked out for the Cub Scouts in my den who are bridging up to Boy Scouts NEXT MONDAY!!! And there are LOTS of details).

Hopefully, next Tuesday (since Monday's are always crazy), I should have a somewhat normal schedule. (cross my fingers).

Did I mention that I signed up for another BOOK FAIR?  Which happens to be on May 15th... or FOUR WEEKS AWAY!

What was I thinking.

However, back to Pebble in the Sky and other Modern Firsts.

I mentioned, before the Sacramento Book Fair craziness, that I had a few books of interest to write about when I got the chance.  Now's the time (or more correctly, now's the beginning of the time. I haven't had a chance to sit and mull over other details as fully as I'd like, so this is probably not the first blog entry about these books).

Recently, I picked up a copy of Isaac Asimov's first novel (and while this is NOT his first published work, either fiction or non-fiction, it is the first time a complete novel by him was published in book format.)  The story is a combination of science fiction, fantastic fiction, time travel, and post apocalyptic fiction.  As the front flap blurb states: "It began when Joseph Schwartz was walking down a street in Chicago, past the Institute for Nuclear Research. He raised one foot in the twentieth century; he lowered it in Galactic Era 827, the victim of an odd accident inside the Institute involving an experiment with crude uranium."

Interestingly (at least to me), I've been focusing on the subject of Atomics and Nuclear  war / energy  books and ephemera lately  -- partly by the luck of the hunt in my book scouting, and partly because, once I started to see / look for the material, the more I've been able to find and the more interested I become, so this particular book fits right in that theme.

But back to Isaac Asimov.  While this book was not one of the numerous award winning titles, it is a rather special book in the cannon of his writing in that it has the distinct honor of being the first hardback work . According to Asimov himself in Before the Golden Age this novel was influenced by a short work by Murray Leinster called "Proxima Centauri".   According to Wikipedia, Asimov is considered one of the most prolific authors of all time with more than 5000 books (yes, that's FIVE THOUSAND) written or edited by him during his long lifetime. For more information about the author himself, check here.

I've read a number of Asimov titles over the years (especially the Robot Novels) as I wanted to be more familiar with his writing -- and as the Three Laws of Robotics kept being referenced in other SF stuff I was reading I really wanted to know what they were (PS: here they are for you.)  The thing is, Asimov was, for me, at least, a great theorist. Cool new technical stuff came out of him like water out of a spigot. But as for the connection to the reader... well, for me, the writing (specifically his fiction work) was always very dry and.... theoretical. There was very little emotional attachment that I could make to the writing or the characters. They were there to fit in with the technical science and futuristic ideas, not to be likable or make an emotional connection. That's one of the things about the writing from the 1930's through the mid-1960's that I find difficult to deal with. If it was SF writing, it was about cool gadgets, or theories, or space travel where the travel and hardships of  ship building, length of time, technical detail stuff was the most important to the writers, and to the readers.

I started reading SF / Fantasy material from the late 1960's - early 1970's where characterization, ALONG WITH cool SF stuff was part of the package, and going backwards, was (and still is) for me, a bit difficult because I'm expecting the characterization to be there as well.
Even so, this is a great book and a very interesting topic (which we can all relate to since Nuclear / Atomic warfare has once again become nightly news).

Since was was entering this book (and reading details about the book and the era), I noticed that I happen to have a few other first novels / first works in my stock as well.  I might have to try and put a catalogue together.

Until I do (chances are slim at this point), here are a few pictures just for fun. Hopefully I'll get a chance to polish up some details about each of these in later entries.

I finally got this book entered with complete description and uploaded to my website today. I took it to Sacramento with me, but with only a sticky note and price... now I've got the details.
This book is Larry McMurtry's first novel. The first edition print run was approximately 5,000 copies, making it a quite small print run. The book was the basis for the 1963 Movie HUD starring Paul Newman.

A. A. Attanasio's first novel, this book was published in hardback and trade paperback simultaneously - an award winning novel, the hardback edition had a print run of approximately 1,000 copies, making it VERY difficult to find. 

Yeah, I know, mostly SF / Fantasy stuff in this group (what do you expect? I specialize in SF / Fantasy & Horror....and lately, Atomic & Nuclear stuff ... is there a category name for this?)
Written by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes), this is the first in the exceedingly popular series of books featuring anthropomorphic forest critters as heroes. When I get a chance, I'll post the First's Magazine article I wrote about this series (and the author) on my website alongside the Terry Pratchett and Madeleine L'Engle articles. (and when I really get a chance, I'll post the other articles I wrote over a ten+ year period working for Firsts.... which reminds me that I should get back to writing for them again. A two year hiatus is TOO LONG!)

This book is the first novel by Chicano author Jose Antonio Villarreal -- a pioneer in the field of Chicano literature. When I get time, I'll get some more details about the author and the book -- fascinating stuff, I just haven't done enough research on him. (PS: This book includes a signature and long inscription from the author). Cool book.

I know I have more stock that are first novel / first works by well known  authors, but for the moment, I'll stop here (partly because I'd have to DIG to find more) and partly because I have to go pick up the Dynamic Duo from school now.


1 comment:

Leo Scarpelli said...

Nice copy of Radix. Attanasio and I have collaborated on a new website for him, located at www.aaattanasio.com.