SUBTERRANEAN SCHEDULES “ACE DOUBLE” SAMPLER
June 20, 2008
Aeons ago, when I was kid in Bayonne, I bought all my books off the spinner rack in the candy store on 1st Street and Kelly Parkway. Paperbacks were the only books I could afford and even they were horrendously expensive. Just one book cost as much as three comic books and a Milky Way bar: 35 whole cents. For that kind of money, I wanted value, so whenever I could I snatched up Ace Doubles.
“Two Complete Novels,” the covers promised (two novellas, really, but “complete novel” sounded better). The Doubles had two covers, one on the front and one on the back (and often both had wonderful Emsh art), so you had to be sure you flipped the book over to make sure you weren’t buying two copies of the same one. The ‘novels’ were bound back to back, each upside down in relation to the other, and printed on the world’s cheapest paper, but it was in the pages of those Ace Doubles that I first encountered Cliff Simak, Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, Murray Leinster, A.E. van Vogt, Wilson Tucker, Andre Norton (and Andrew North!), Jerry Sohl, Damon Knight, Edmond Hamilton, Gordon R. Dickson, and many other writers whose work I soon came to love. There was a point where those Ace Doubles with their distinctive red-and-blue spines made up something like three-quarters of my library, and of course, when I began to write my own stories, I used to dream that one day I might have an Ace Double of my own.
That was a long long time ago, of course. Ace Books is still around and doing fine, though they stopped publishing “doubles” decades ago. But I’m still going to get my double… kinda sorta… thanks to Bill Schafer and the good folks at Subterreanean Press.
When I was putting together GRRM: A RRetrospective for SubPress back in 2003, the hard part was not picking which stories to include, but deciding which ones were going to be left out. Even in a book as big as that one, you don’t have room to include everything. Two of my last cuts were the novelettes “Fast-Friend” and “Starlady.” Originally published in anthologies, neither story ever got much attention, but I was fond of both of them, and hated having to leave them out of my RRetrospective.
Now I finally get to make up for that oversight. Subterranean will be publishing the two of them, back-to-back and upside down, in true Ace Double fashion, with two covers by Martina Pilcerova. I tried to convince Bill Schafer to sell them for 35 cents apiece, to complete the homage, but he demurred, mumbling something about production costs. Instead there will be a trade hardcover edition for $20, and 200 copies of a signed limited edition for $45. (You’ll have to do your own calculations to figure out how much that is in comic books and Milky Ways). The books are available for preorder now, so head on over to the SubPress website if you’d like to snag one. (They’re too big to fit into the wire slots on a spinner rack, alas). Not “Two Complete Novels,” no, but “Two Complete Novelettes.” Order direct from Subterranean Press via their website.
Or, if you’d rather try to win a free copy of STARLADY/ FAST-FRIEND, head over to Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. Enter his latest contest, and you may be the lucky winner who walks away with a copy of the limited.
And speaking of SubPress, their limited edition of my historical horror novel FEVRE DREAM sold out months ago, but it’s not too late the snag a copy of their beautiful edition of HUNTER’S RUN, illustrated by the Hugo award-winning artist Bob Eggleton. There are two vserions; the numbered copies go for $50, the deluxe lettered edition for $150. Both are signed by all three authors. The lettered copies are housed in a custom traycase. Publisher’s Weekly wrote of the novel, “Martin (Song of Ice and Fire series), Dozois (Strange Days) and Abraham (A Shadow in Summer) revisit classic themes of exploration, exploitation and what it means to be human in this gritty SF adventure…This tightly written novel, with its memorable protagonist and intriguing extrapolation, delivers on all levels.”