I raced home from work today hoping that I’d have the June issue of Analog in my mailbox. The issue contains my story, “Take One for the Road” and I’ve already heard from Steven H. Silver and Michael Burstein that they had received their copies. It seemed as if every other magazine to which I subscribe was in my mailbox (two issue of New Scientist, the April Scientific American, AOPA Pilot). But not Analog.
However, when I got to the front door, I had a box and I could tell it was from a bookstore that I ordered an almost-complete set of Astounding Science Fiction from 1942. (The set is missing the May and June issues, key issues for sure, but what follows makes up for that, and the fact that the June Analog didn’t arrive today.)
I unpacked the issues and made the first surprise discovery: they are all in very good condition. This was followed by the second discovery, which is that the 1942 issues, all of them, are bedsheet sized–that is, about the size of TIME magazine, larger than what it used to be. But I didn’t discover the other gems until I started going through the issues.
The first, of course is the January 1942 issue, pictured below.
For comparison, here is the bedsheet-sized January 1942 issue compared the the standard-sized July 1939 issue:
The real surprise came when I opened up the January issue to scan the contents page:
Yes, that is Jack Williamson’s autograph signed on the lead novelette, “Breakdown.” (You can click on the image to zoom in.) A Jack Williamson autograph in a January 1942 issue of Astounding! Now that seems like a pretty rare find, right? But wait, there’s more. The February 1942 issue looked marvelous:
And the March 1942 looked equally gorgeous:
The lead story in the March 1942 issue is A. E. van Vogt’s “Recruiting Station” and when I turned to the contents page of this issue, I discovered this:
I believe the inscription reads, “Peacefully yours, Lydea & A. E. Van Vogt”. How cool is that!
Next up was the April issue, the cover story for which was “Beyond This Horizon” by Anson MacDonald (Robert Heinlein):
And when I turned to the contents page, I saw this:
I believe it reads, “All best wishes, Lydea & A. E. Van Vogt”.
The May and June issues were missing from this particular find. (Those issues include Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” and “Bridle and Saddle” and are probably more difficult to locate. But the July issue was in pristine condition:
And on the contents page, for the July issue, something even more remarkable:
That is A. E. Van Vogt’s autograph next to “Secret Unattainable” and Jack Williamson’s autograph next to “Collision Orbit” by Will Stuart, which of course was one of Williamson’s pseudonyms.
The August and September issues were both in excellent condition:
|August 1942||September 1942|
The October 1942 issue was next with its cover for Lester del Rey’s “Lunar Landing”:
An on the contents page for this one, another A. E. van Vogt autograph, this one, “For Joseph…”
The November 1942 issue contains stories by both van Vogt and Stewart (Williamson):
And the contents page once again contains autographs by both men.
Finally, there is the December issue with one of van Vogt’s most famous stories, “The Weapons Shop” for which the cover illustration was done.
And inside, next to his story in the contents, was one more autograph by van Vogt.
What are the chances that I could stumble upon such a find? That the issues were in very good condition was one thing. That many of them are signed by two of the more famous writers in the genre–both of them are Grand Masters–is more than I could hope for. I more than made up from the fact that the June Analog was not in my mailbox today.
In fact, it puts the whole thing into rather stark perspective: who am I compared to the men and women who appeared on these treasured pages?