Monday, July 31, 2006

I have been collecting the works of Samuel R Delany for a long time. He was one of the first Science Fiction authors who really grabbed my attention. He began writing as the Golden Age was coming to an end but where, if you wanted to have a book published by Ace, one of the biggest SF publishers of the time, you often had to cut pages and pages simply to make it fit into their rigid, small format - nothing like today where any promising young author is encouraged to sign up for a trilogy deal with each volume amassing millions of words. As a young, gay, black author wanting to write nothing bu Science Fiction and with enormous talent, Delany fairly burst onto the SF scene in the early 60s. There's something of this in Delany's best writing too. It is spare, and extremely economical. He is a writer who edits, often to excess. I can't prove this but it seems as if there is no impression of any edition of his work which has not had somewhere from a few to a great many texural changes made from the previous edition. Delany keeps lists of typos and small changes he would like to make from the text of one edition, waiting for the publisher to say they would like to issue the book again.

I am very aware that there are many omissions from this collection. The omissions from the photographs are my copy of Equinox which is on loan at the moment, my copies of the hardback firsts (both signed) of Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand and The Bridge of Lost Desire. Also, not actually missing from the pictures but invisible by dint of being so slim is my copy of the Checklist.

Glaring omissions are some of the Gollancz yellow-back UK firsts - but I'm not a rich man. Also hardback firsts of some of his more recent books such as Atlantis are absent. Also, I'm still missing some of the nicer limited editions - Hogg in first edition for example, and it would be fantastic to be able to one day afford a copy of one of the specially bound copies of The Motion of Light in Water.

Having said that, there are one or two items in the collection which I'm particularly proud of. I'm very happy to have a signed copy of the advance typescript for 'Neveryona' which is mimeographed and includes all of Delany's hand-written corrections. Also, I like the copy of The Fall of Towers, the cover of which is signed by the illustrator.

This is the only part of my book collection in which paperbacks are particularly important and as I have something of a fetish for good cover illustration, collecting the various paperback editions and impressions is good fun.

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