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Great Science-Fiction
& Fantasy Works

science-fiction & fantasy literature:
a critical list with discussions

A Science-Fiction & Fantasy "Preferred Editions" List

"I think I will go home and have a bath. Maybe some other thought will occur to me."

--Jog Rummage,
Grahame Wright

The Idea

In my fruitless and eventually abandoned attempt to construct a ranked list of "essentials" for a sound speculative-fiction library--I finally decided that the author lists and stars, along with the growing body of discussions on the individual-author pages, would have to (and should) suffice--I did discover that for many works, especially popular (or once-popular) ones, there are one or a few editions that are clearly superior.

Such superiority may lie in better text (some editions are surprisingly corrupt), in more or better illustrations (or, in some cases, maps), annotations or critical essays by others being included, sheer physical quality, or omnibus inclusion of several related works in one volume . . . or, of course, some combination of those things.

(What "superior" does not mean--to me, anyway--is author-signed, leather-bound, rare, or any of the several other things that matter to book collectors as opposed to book readers. Sometimes, of course, superior reading editions will also be superior collecting editions: it is just that collector attraction is not an element in my picks.)

Finding out which editions are generally considered superior, and why, and getting exact information to identify them, is not a simple or easy or brief task. And of course in many cases there is either no choice at all--but a single edition exists--or no clear weighting in favor of this or that version. All one can do is seek and seek and seek: I will be carrying on such research, in parallel with the other things that this site requires of me, for a long time yet. But there are results enough now to be worth sharing, and that is what this page is about.

The books that in almost all ways have been most troublesome for me in compiling not just this page, but this site in general, are the ones that have been heavily commercialized. Saving out The Lord of the Rings, those problem books are all of what is loosely called "children's books." And, in fact, I can name the key offenders, which are few in number: heading the list are all the things with "Pooh" in the title (there are seemingly innumerable titles derived from the mere two story books that Milne wrote); likewise the seemingly endless list of things with The Wind in the Willows mentioned (all derived, usually by sheer chopping-out, from but a single book); "Peter Pan" and, again, a host of offspring titles; "Alice" (Wonderland) books; editions of The Wizard of Oz (fortunately the other Oz books have not been so viciously plundered); Pinocchio, in most flavors; and (of course) The Hobbit.

The first line of defense for the puzzled reader is simple: if the word "Disney" appears anywhere on or in the book, run away screaming; that will cut probably 70 per cent of the sludge from the list. Treat with equal anger anything with the words "adapted,", abridged", "Level so-and-so", "critical commentary" (or "critical edition"), or likely synonyms for any of those terms.

It is disgusting and disgraceful--and a trenchant comment on our age--that books written expressly for very young children are nowadays presumed to need major dumbing down to be comprehensible. The "children's books" listed on this site are all books that--as always, in my opinion--well reward a sophisticated adult reader: I do not list them so you can read them to your children or grandchildren or nephews and nieces or whatever, but so that you can read and enjoy them. But that means reading the books the authors wrote, not some jackass "adapted" thing.

While I haven't yet researched all of those I mention above--I am coming to this task top down, as I do the author writeups--to the depth I like to use in determining a "preferred edition", I can give you some pointers to versions with which I think you not likely to go wrong. Here, of the titles I have just mentioned--for now, pointing only to the US Amazon--are editions of the couple not yet treated in the full lists further below:

The Book Links

I have tried to identify both a hardcover and a paperback version of each particular edition, but such things do not always exist. Moreover, even if they once did, one or the other or both forms may now be out of print. Also, for many books there is both an "American" and a "British" version; the difference may be simply what company published the book, but may also (and likely will) include at least the usual variations in spelling (such as color/colour), and possibly some vocabulary changes (spanner/wrench or fender/wing). There will rarely if ever be any material differences, but where such alternate editions exist, each is listed separately here. (So there may thus be American paperback and British paperback and American hardcover and British hardcover--or some subset of those--"preferred editions" for any one title.)

(Note that regardless of which of Amazon's international divisions one looks through, virtually every English-language book is either an American or a British edition.)

Generally, each version listed of a given title will be a one-click link to the appropriate edition spot on the editions page for that title. As a purely mechanical matter, be aware that with a few immensely popular books (like, for example, The Wizard of Oz)--for which the editions page is quite long--though the link here initially sends you to the correct spot on the page, many browsers "lose track" of that spot and "drift" as the page continues to load; if that happens, wait till the page fully loads, then just click your browser's <Reload> icon. The issue is not my page coding--it's today's browser software; sorry.

For most titles, the link here is, as stated above, to the appropriate spot on that title's editions page, even if that spot is simply the "look for used copies" block for a title no longer in print at all. But, in a few special cases, I have provided right here a used-book search, because the search here is narrower than the usual simple by-title/author search I provide on the individual-book pages (the search here may, for example, also include a particular publisher in the search criteria); such cases are noted where they occur.

(When a given edition is not equally available from multiple Amazon divisions--which is often the case--keep in mind what I have said elsewhere, in much detail, about trans-national book-buying; generally the trans-national differential is less than you might imagine--at least to the same continent--and buying from one of "the other Amazons" often makes sense--and even when, for a particular book, the "other" Amazon is the only choice, it is normally not dreadfully costly.)

Those works available in so-called "School and Library binding" form are usually preferred, because they are manufactured especially to take long-term use (and abuse), but I have not sought out or marked such editions here. Just a word to the wise . . . .

The List

The presentation is grouped by author rating "stars", but is simply alphabetical by author within each "star" class. Where there are no truly definitive editions, I have provided no listings; to see all of an author's books as listed on this site, click on that author's name in the appropriate section heading below.

The Five-Star Authors

L. Frank Baum

Baum's Oz series ran--just under him, not including the several continuations of it by other hands--to fourteen novels and a book of short stories, plus one or two peripherally associated books. Nonetheless, to many readers his magnum opus was the first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Of that book, the best edition--a hard choice, because there are several good ones--is the one entitled The Annotated Wizard of Oz (hardcover) "centennial edition", annotated by Michael Patrick Hearn--though the irrepressible Martin Gardner did write a preface for it (there was also a paperback edition, but it's now out of print).

For the rest of the Oz books, the preferred hardcover editions are the delightful ones--reproductions of the originals--put out by HarperCollins under the aegis of "Books of Wonder" (a New York City bookshop with a specialty in children's books, and especially Baum's). Indeed, one might be tempted to their edition of The Wizard if only to have a matched set.

If you would settle for paperback copies, Dover has the complete set available in good editions.

Because the Oz books are now in the public domain, there is a plethora of editions, most of which are one of two sorts: "facsimile" scan-ins of old original editions, which tend to often be sloppy or defective, and scanned-in texts rendered by OCR (Optical Character recognition) software, which also tend to be awful. Moreover, the cheaper ripoff sorts rarely reproduce the delightful art work that is integral to the Oz experience. There have also been some well-intentioned "super-omnibus" editions, that cram the entire Baum Oz work into two volumes or even a single volume. These are nice in some ways, but have the drawback of being physically hard to handle, and often to read (owing both to text size and to page thinness). I therefore have left those out as "preferred" editions, even though they are handy in a "get it onto the shelf" sense.

Here are the preferred editions. The links take you to the all-editions list for the particular book: the info box for the preferred edition will be at the top edge of your screen when the page comes in.

     Hardcover:      Paperback:

Of Baum's non-Oz books, there are nice Dover paperback editions of most--

--and Wildside Press has The Enchanted Island of Yew in paperback; Wildside also has a nice combination edition of Baum's two Santa Claus tales, available as both--


Jorge Luis Borges

Borges' career spanned about half a century, but his fiction output, all short stories, originally published in eight slim collections--

  • A Universal History of Iniquity
  • Ficciones
  • The Aleph
  • The Maker
  • In Praise of Darkness
  • Brodie's Report
  • The Book of Sand
  • Shakespeare's Memory

--is barely over half a thousand pages. Those works now all appear in a single volume, with all the stories translated from their native Spanish by a single translator, Andrew Hurley, in a single effort.

(There have been criticisms of Hurley's translation, but there has also been praise of it--knowing no Spanish, I cannot judge except indirectly. My opinion, after looking at a lot of comments pro and con, and sensing the apparent grounds, and credentials, of the commentors, is that it is, after all, likely a pretty good job; but even the detractors admit that it is good to finally have a comprehensive uniform edition. Here's a quick overview of the reviews and opinions.)

The volume is currently available new only in paperback, as--

Ernest Bramah

The 1936 hardcover Kai Lung Omnibus collected the first three Kai Lung books: The Wallet of Kai Lung, Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat, and Kai Lung's Golden Hours. There are no other especial editions that I know of.

James Branch Cabell

Cabell was once an immensely popular writer, largely by accident, because his work is not the vile stuff of which "best sellers" are normally made. With his accidental fame now erased by time, he has lapsed back into virtual obscurity: only Jurgen--the book whose alleged "obscenity" led to Cabell's accidental fame--is regularly available (a few others are too, but they come into and go out of print: right now, Wildside Press is doing yeoman work bringing much of Cabell back into print).

There is, however, a definitive edition of Cabell's immense masterpiece, the "Biography" cycle: the whimsically named "Storisende" edition, in hardcover, eighteen volumes, and whose editing was done by Cabell himself. It is, of course, long since out of print. One can, however, buy complete sets of it used, at prices from $400 on up to $1,250 (which is about $30 to $70 a volume, not outrageous for quality hardcover tomes). And who knows? At such levels of expenditure, perhaps one could haggle over the price; $25 a volume for hardcovers is a modest price in the current market.

Here is a link to an Abebooks used-book search for the complete Storisende edition of Cabell's "Biography" cycle.

Of his many other works, there are no definitive editions, save that there was a 1972 omnibus edition of his three "Nightmare" novels (Smirt, Smith, and Smire), which is long since out of print, and indeed quite rare; here's a used book search for copies of The Nightmare has Triplets omnibus, but you may not find even a used copy available.

There is also an excellent sort of "sampler" of the Biography--a three-tale omnibus of The Music From Behind the Moon, The Way of Ecben, and The White Robe--now available again new as The Witch-Woman (hardcover) and also as The Witch-Woman (paperback).

Italo Calvino

All of Calvino's works in our fields are presently available new. The Nonexistent Knight and The Cloven Viscount are invariably combined in one volume--I know of no exceptions in English, so that combination is not "special"--but there is an omnibus entitled Our Ancestors that includes those two plus the novel The Baron in the Trees, which (like some Chesterton) is not strictly fantastic but reads very much as if it is, and that might be an edition worth having if you do not already own the contents as two books (but it is not translated by William Weaver, who won awards for his translations). It is no longer available new, but you can search Abebooks for used copies of Our Ancestors.

Lewis Carroll

Among the zillion (roughly estimated, you understand) editions of Carroll's work, there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest: polymath Martin Gardner's superbly annotated edition of the famous Alice duo, published as The Annotated Alice. The book even includes an episode omitted from all previous editions of Looking Glass, as well as the classic Tenniel illustrations that are now almost as famous as the text itself.

(One needs to take some care here: there was an original book, The Annotated Alice, followed by an updated More Annotated Alice, then finally a combined, further revised Annotated Alice, The Definitive Edition; obviously, one wants only that last version.)

It was published as--

There is also a hardcover Annotated Hunting of the Snark available, again from the redoubtable Martin Gardner.

Lord Dunsany

Dunsany's work must be the absolute bedrock foundation of any sound library of speculative-fiction writing. Sadly--since fashions come and go--much of his work was for too long out of print, and much remains so. Fortunately, with one exception (The Man Who Ate the Phoenix, all of Dunsany's fantasy work is currently available, new or used. In particular, there is an excellent omnibus volume of his earliest (and in some ways best) work, combining in one physical volume:

  • The Gods of Pegana
  • Time and the Gods
  • The Sword of Welleran
  • A Dreamer's Tales
  • The Book of Wonder
  • The Last Book of Wonder
  • Tales of Three Hemispheres

The volume is not available as a hardcover, but in this day and age "trade paperback" books are nearly as well made as hardcovers, lacking--of course--only the hardness of the covers. This delightful omnibus (the very first thing I would buy to start a science-fiction and fantasy library) is entitled Time and the Gods. Regrettably, it omits (owing to copyright issues?) the delightful small volume Fifty-One Tales, but that remains available in several inexpensive editions.

Dunsany's "Jorkens" books have almost all been, for long now, scarce to the point of rarity; fortunately, not only are they being reprinted by Nightshade press in a uniform omnibus set, but we even get the fillip of an entire volume of newly discovered, hence never-before-published Jorkens tales! Of the three volumes the reissue will occupy (the originals were five published books plus the new sixth), only the first is so far available for order, but I list all three:

I don't know of any especially preferable editions of any of Dunsany's other works.

Eric Eddison

There was an omnibus of the Zimiamvia trilogy, titled simply Zimiamvia that is now most regrettably out of print; but you can still use Abebooks to look for used copies of Zimiamvia, though even those are scarce--if you search, make sure you're not looking at an incomplete galley-proof version. (There are no other definitive editions of Eddison that I know of.)

R. A. Lafferty

Many top-quality authors are what is often called "caviar to the general", but Lafferty goes somewhere beyond that. An astonishing number of his works have never been published save as what amounts to pamphlets, and a great many only in very limited numbers of copies. There are even yet-unpublished works (at least two novels exist only in original-manuscript form, hopefully to see light in a year or two). Obviously, there are no "preferred" editions--a preferred edition of a Lafferty book is any one that was ever actually published.

Besides books available new and used through Amazon and Abebooks, do not overlook the several works (admittedly pamphlet-length chapbooks) available new at very modest cost from the estimable Chris Drumm; order everything he's got by Lafferty in that form--that includes at least:

  • Heart of Stone Dear, and other stories, Drumm Booklet #12, $2.00
  • Snake in His Bosom, and other stories, Drumm Booklet #13, $2.00
  • The Man Who Made Models, and other stories, Drumm Booklet #18, $2.50
  • Slippery, and other stories, Drumm Booklet #19, $2.00
  • Laughing Kelly, and other verses [humorous verse], Drumm Booklet #19, $1.00
  • It's Down the Slippery Cellar Stairs [non-fiction, essays on science fiction], Drumm Booklet #14, $2.00

Mervyn Peake

There is a fine, relatively new omnibus edition of Peake's incomplete master work, the Titus saga--the three novels completed before his untimely death--which includes not only emended text for all but a good number of critical and appreciative essays on the man and his work. It was only published as a paperback. (And its title, Gormenghast, perpetuates the regrettably common mistake of calling the Titus saga the "Gormenghast" saga.)

J. R. R. Tolkien

Despite the seemingly myriad of editions of the immensely popular professor's many works, it is possible to set forth preferred editions. The preferences lie in a combination of emendations to the text (which has, for most of these works, been an ongoing process over the last few decades), superior renditions of illustrations, and--especially important in most of Tolkien's work--superior renditions of maps.

Lord of the Rings

For LOTR (one novel, despite the common publication of it in multiple volumes), the clearly preferred version is the "50th Anniversary" one-volume hardcover Deluxe 50th Anniversary edition, which has the latest text, two large-format fold-out maps, a ribbon placemarker, gilded page edges, a color insert of Tolkien's own paintings of the Book of Mazarbul, the leather-bound whole sturdily and finely packaged in a slipcase. But, while it is indeed a delicious piece of bookmaking, it is correspondingly priced: US $63, when I last looked; but if you treasure Tolkien, and can afford the tab, it's the one to get.

If you live in Tolkien's native Britain, lucky you: you get to pay nearly double the American price for essentially the same book. Or you could get smart and order it from Amazon U.S.A.--even with overseas shipping you make out better.

If that's too rich for your blood, the next-best edition in hardcover is Lord of the Rings--still not cheap, being US $38 at last look--more or less the current standard edition, with a good set of illustrations. (By the way, even if you're a neatnik about books, don't discard the cover--when removed and turned over, it's a map!)

But if, for whatever reason, you really want a paperback edition, there are two possibilities:

Now those are all American editions; what the exactly corresponding British editions may be, besides for the blockbuster item noted above, I cannot readily determine; but my feeling is that you are best off with one of the Houghton Mifflin "American" editions, either new or used, either shipped transoceanic or obtained locally.

Here are links for searching used copies of the American editions from the U.K. (this searches all sources, U.S. and U.K.):

The Hobbit

For The Hobbit, the clear choice is the renowned (and newly updated) annotated version, available--for now, at least--only in hardcover, as The Annotated Hobbit (US edition), or The Annotated Hobbit (UK edition).

The Silmarillion

For Tolkien's other Middle-Earth work (excluding the copious manuscript pieces edited by his son Christopher, and not listed here), The Silmarillion, the preferred edition is now the "oversized" Silmarillion Second Edition hardcover. I say "now" because the earlier 2nd--possibly owing to its size--did away with the useful and pleasing fold-out map, reducing it to a two-page spread; fortunately, this newer 2nd restores the map to fold-out size and status. (Apparently there is a corresponding British 2nd hardcover Silmarillion edition.)

If you don't feel a need for a hardcover edition, there is a Silmarillion Second Edition paperback available (there does not seem to be a corresponding British edition--the available British paperback Silmarillion is apparently a First Edition, which is not a big deal).

Other Works

Farmer Giles of Ham

There is an especially nice edition of this little delight, a fiftieth-anniversary edition; it includes a map, the drawings that illustrated the original 1949 edition, and Tolkien's notes toward a sequel (apparently never written). The currently available versions are--

Smith of Wooton Major

There was a pleasing little hardcover chapbook edition of this moving work, but it is now out of print; but you can locate either the American or the British used editions through Abebooks; or, if you want an inexpensive bargain, you can find used copies of the book-club combination hardcover edition of Smith and Farmer Giles. (There is also a new mass-market paperback edition, but that is scarcely to be "preferred".)

The Letters

That rubric subsumes two quite different items: Tolkien's actual correspondence, and the famous collection of "Father Christmas letters" sent to his children annually; fortunately, in both cases, the currently available editions are the preferred ones.

For the Father Christmas letters, current availability includes an American paperback Letters From Father Christmas; for reasons best known to publishers, there is no corresponding American hardcover, even though what appears to be the identical book (same cover image) is available in both form in the U.K.: paperback Letters From Father Christmas and hardcover Letters From Father Christmas. (Earlier, much-less-complete editions were entitled The Father Christmas Letters; I do not list any of those.)

The currently available edition (paperback only) of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (American edition and British edition) has a much-expanded index.

Collections of Miscellaneous

For Tolkien's several other works, there is an annoying hodge-podge of overlapping content in several collections, some now out of print. My advice is to get--if you can afford it--the deluxe Giles and find a used copy of the now out-of-print hardcover chapbook edition of Smith, both as described above, or, if shillings are not so plentiful, buy a used copy of the book-club combination edition; then, to fill in, you could buy the only still-available collection of Tolkien miscellany, The Tolkien Reader, which includes:

  • Farmer Giles of Ham
  • The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
  • On Fairy Stories
  • Leaf by Niggle
  • The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son

Regrettably, that would still leave you lacking "Mythopoeia", available only in the now out-of-print Tree and Leaf, but it's not a major loss. (Tales From the Perilous Realm has nothing not in the Reader except Smith, which you are better off getting by itself or in the book-club combo.)

If there are any clearly superior editions of the many others of Tolkien's works, I don't know which they might be.

Jack Vance

With blinding obviousness, the definitive editions of Vance are those in the limited-release Vance Integral Edition (VIE). If you can muster cash in a lump--or off a credit account--the VIE is the Vance to have. This luscious set--encompassing every published work by Vance (including a few crime-fiction books) is now nominally sold out, but there may yet be a very few copies left--to find out, send an inquiry email to the VIE staff. Be aware that the price for the set was $1,500 (which, per book, isn't bad at all at this quality level of bookmaking).

If the VIE is not a possibility for you, or is now finally sold out, there are some omnibus volumes.

The "Demon Princes" series of five novels--

  • The Star King
  • The Killing Machine
  • The Palace of Love
  • The Face
  • The Book of Dreams

--is some of Vance's best work. These are available as a two-volume set (for those who might be seeking used copies: the Science Fiction Book Club issued a one-volume omnibus simply titled The Demon Princes). Note that some or all of the three Amazon divisions may have package deals on the two volumes together for a reduced total price. The two-volume set is still in print, but now only in paperback:

Vance's various "Dying Earth" tales--

  • The Dying Earth
  • The Eyes Of The Overworld
  • Cugel's Saga
  • Rhialto The Marvellous

--including his first published book The Dying Earth, which instantly (and rightly) made Vance's reputation, were collected in a single volume, hardcover only, The Compleat Dying Earth, no longer available new. There is now, however, a paperback volume that includes the same novels:

Vance's four "Planet of Adventure" novels--

  • City of the Chasch
  • Servants of the Wankh (aka The Wannek)
  • The Dirdir
  • The Pnume

--have also been collected into a single volume, this available under the title (duh) Planet of Adventure, but now only available in paperback.

And Vance's three "Alastor Cluster" novels--

  • Trullion: Alastor 2262
  • Marune: Alastor 933
  • Wyst: Alastor 1716

--have also been collected into a single volume, again with an obvious name: Alastor, and--again--now only in paperback.

And those, so far as I know, are all the omnibus and special-edition Vances available.

The Four-Star Authors

Brian W. Aldiss

If there are any notably superior editions of those of Aldiss's books listed on this site, I am unaware of them.

Steven Bauer

If there is any notably superior edition of Satyrday, I am unaware of it.

Peter S. Beagle

Conlan Press has announced that it is beginning a "Definitive Edition" series of Beagle's work, the first item of which will be Beagle's forthcoming new adult fantasy novel Summerlong; reissues of older works will then follow from time to time.

("Each Definitive Edition volume will be in a carefully-designed, set-matched archival binding, and will be fully illustrated by Peter's choice of artist.")

Beagle has perennially had multiple works listed on various sites as "forthcoming", but with no dates, and several have been so listed for very long times now--indeed, The Green Man Review has an entire page listing "upcoming" Peter S. Beagle publications; let us hope that these Conlan releases will at last be something for real (but they are not yet listed at Amazon even for "pre-order").

Meanwhile, A Fine and Private Place, The Last Unicorn, and a couple of short stories or novellas (I'm not sure how they are classed) were issued in one volume; it is no longer available new, but you can search Abebooks for used copies of The Fantasy Worlds of Peter S. Beagle.

John Bellairs

The NESFA Press omnibus Magic Mirrors is the hands-down winner for Bellairs, including as it does not only all three of his adult works (The Face in the Frost, The Pedant and the Shuffly, and St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies) but the previously unpublished incomplete fragment of a follow-on to Face entitled Dolphin Cross. And, to ice the cake, all of the wonderful (and virtually integral) illustrations by Marilyn Fitschen are included).

So far as I know, for all of Bellairs' children's books listed on this site, there are no reasons to prefer any one edition over another.

James Blaylock

Blaylock's publishing history is curious and spotty (there is a detailed bibliography on the Sybertooth site). Many of his works were released by small presses, often as chapbooks containing a single short story or so, often bound expensively and sold dearly. Most of those oddments were, however, eventually collected in full books (notably in Thirteen Phantasms).

So, putting aside collectors' desires for rarities, for reading purposes there are at most only a few "special" editions. I say "at most" because whether these too have only collector value or whether they truly have enhancements (illustrations, for example), I don't always know. Here's the list, with links to searches for used copies of the versions.

  • Doughnuts (a single short story): I have no book-list page for this tale because its full text appears in Blaylock's short-story collection Thirteen Phantasms; but the hardcover chapbook edition put out by "Airtight Seals" (Airtight Seals Allied Production, 1994) had a front cover and interior illustrations by Phil Parks, photographs by Vicki Blaylock, and an afterword by Tim Powers (there were 224 copies published thus, plus 26 more leatherbound with a signed photo and an original handwritten short story included).

    There was also another hardcover chapbook edition, this from Subterranean Press (Subterranean Press, 1997) of 250 numbered and 26 lettered copies that is apparently very much like the first, but with an added introductory passage wherein Blaylock laments the passing of many of the unique doughnut shops of Southern California.

  • The Digging Leviathan also appeared in a special hardcover limited edition of 700 (Morrigan Publications, 1988) signed and with a special preface by Blaylock; there was also a yet more limited edition (300) of the same book with additional articles by K.W. Jeter and Tim Powers.

  • The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives, a hardback omnibus, contains both Homunculus and Lord Kelvin's Machine plus four stories related to those works; it includes the numerous J. K. Potter illustrations that appeared in the original releases of the included works. Owing to its completeness, it is the definitive version of what it contains.

  • Homunculus also appeared in a limited edition of 710 copies (Morrigan Publications, 1988) illustrated by Ferret and with an introduction by Keith Roberts; an even more limited version (300) was slip-cased and contained an extra article by William Hastings and a reply thereto by Blaylock. Except for passionate completists, the Langdon St. Ives collection supersedes this.
  • Lord Kelvin's Machine appeared in a special hardcover (Arkham House, 1992), illustrated by J. K. Potter. Except for passionate completists, the Langdon St. Ives collection supersedes this.
  • The Last Coin appeared in a hardcover limited edition of 750 (Ziesing, 1988), illustrated by Dennis Loughner and with an Introduction by Lucius Shepard, done as a boxed copy in a slipcase also containing four postcards bearing artwork of the book.

  • When The Magic Spectacles (nominally a "young adult" book) first appeared in hardcover, there was also a special, slip-cased limited edition (Morrigan Publications, 1991) of 250 copies, with a postscript by Lewis Shiner not included in the main distribution. A somewhat revised edition of this tale appeared serially in the sadly now-defunct Crank magazine (issues #6, #7, and #8); back issues are available through Broken Mirrors Press, among other places (but #8 is sold out and hard to track down--believe me, I know).

Jonathan Carroll

The only distinctions in editions I know of are that:

  1. starting with the U.S. editions (c. 1987), Bones of the Moon had a few possibly significant extra paragraphs added at the very end of the book; and,

  2. in The Panic Hand (a short-story collection), the English-language versions contain a couple of stories not in the German-language original.

You are, I think, unlikely to run into editions in which those things matter.

G. K. Chesterton

The version to own of The Man Who Was Thursday is Martin Gardner's annotated one, entitled (duh) The Annotated Thursday; it is (by report--I don't own one) not as wonderful as Gardner's Annotated Alice cited above, but Gardner is Gardner.

Avram Davidson

The short fiction of Davidson--one of his strengths--is almost completely collected in two omnibus volumes, now available only in paperback. Here they are, in the order you should acquire them:

I know of no special editions of any of the novels by Davidson listed on this site. (The Rose Press release of The Scarlet Fig is sumptuous, but there's no competition, so it doesn't need "preferred" status.)

Charles Finney

Of Finney's greatest and best-known work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, most editions (including the original) have the arty illustrations by Boris Artzybasheff (for myself, I find they add little or nothing, but not everyone will agree). A more interesting--but scarce (2000 copies) and somewhat expensive--edition is that produced by Claire Van Vliet, who did the relief etchings, in 1982 and printed under her Janus Press imprint (often listed as the Limited Editions Club version and sometimes as by Stinehour Press); it also includes an introduction by Edward Hoagland. You can search Abebooks for used copies of that Janus Press edition.

None of Finney's other books seem to have distinctive editions.

Kenneth Grahame

A choice of editions of the immortal Wind in the Willows will turn largely on who illustrated the edition. Many feel that the originals, drawn by Ernest H. Shepard, remain unsurpassed; others think the Arthur Rackham set is best; most think both excellent. Shepard--also renowned for the illustrations of Milne's Pooh books--worked in black and white: any color illustrations bearing his name will have been toned by Another Hand. Rackham's are originally in color.

The book is so immensely and perennially popular that editions abound, though the wanted ones are curiously scarce. The two crucial points in selecting an edition are: one, that it be unabridged, and not a "selection" from the full original; and two, that it be illustrated either by Shepard (in the original black-and-white) or by Rackham--accept no others (not to say that this or that "other" is bad, but Shepard and Rackham are the masters here). I do not say that the list below is exclusive, even of what's in print now, but it's all I could find after much diligent searching; information on additions would be welcome.

Please note that I cannot and do not assert that the editions listed below are all unabridged; they appear to be, but I haven't examined physical copies of any. Caveat emptor!

(The general paucity of information on Grahame--there is not one dedicated Grahame web site!--is shocking. Would someone please set up such a site, and do some of this edition/illustrator research?)

M. John Harrison

What constitutes a "complete" or "definitive" collection of the Viriconium tales is not something easily stated. The short-story components of the cycle have varied over the several editions of the work, especially of Viriconium Nights. In the 2005 author-sanctioned anthology of Viriconium tales (described below), one story--"In Viriconium"--has a slightly different ending than in the 1985 original; moreover, two stories present in the original ("Lamia Mutable" and "Events Witnessed From A City") are now omitted. On the other hand, added and not in the original are the two stories "The Dancer From The Dance" and "A Young Man's Journey To Viriconium".

The whys and wherefores whole affair are complicated enough that it is worth quoting Harrison's own comments (from the Night Shade Publishing Message Boards):

The Bantam Spectra [U.S.] Viriconium (2005), is based on the Fantasy Masterworks edition (2000), which used for its short-story content the 1985 Collancz version of the Viriconium Nights collection. The Gollancz [U.K.] edition, the result of a final revise of the short stories beginning in 1982, was intended to be the author-approved version. . . .

(1) [The short story] "In Viriconium" was the short, testbed version of the novel [of the same name].
(2) "Lamia Mutable" was the first-ever Viriconium story, written in 1966 and sold to Harlan Ellison 1966 or 7, but not published until the appearance of Again Dangerous Visions in, I think, 1972. I ruled it out of the Gollancz edition because it proved impossible to revise; but it survives as the root story of "The Dancer from the Dance", 1984.
(3) "Events Witnessed from A City" also proved unrevisable. I dumped it because I had never liked it anyway.
(4) This is complicated: my memory is that, by the time of the 1984 US edition, I had fully revised "The Lamia & Lord Cromis"; so if there are any differences it may be because I decided to use the original (NWQ, 1971) version for the US edition out of mischief. Or maybe I hadn't finished the revise. (It's easy enough to tell which version you have, if only because one of the characters has changed sex.)

Further: both the 1984 US version of "Lamia Mutable" and the 1984 US version of "Events Witnessed from a City" were in themselves moderate-to-heavy revises from the original versions. So to have a complete Viriconium, as opposed to the offical or author-approved Viriconium, you need to own the following books: The Machine in Shaft Ten & Other Stories, Panther, 1975; Viriconium Knights, Ace, 1984; and Viriconium, Bantam Spectra, 2005. If you'd like to read the Iain Banks introduction to Viriconium as well as Neil Gaiman's, you will also need the Unwin Hyman edition from 1988, which contains only In Viriconium and Viriconium Nights but which has the advantage of Ian Miller's cover.

For the (or an) author-preferred order of reading, it's the Fantasy Masterworks edition.

The [Fantasy Masterworks] edition intersperses the short stories between the novels in a random order, which fits the rationale a little closer. The idea, for me, is to avoid both textual and publishing chronology. The only fixed point should be the short story "A Young Man's Journey", which you should always read first or last. A clue to my attitude to time in the sequence can be gained from "Viriconium Knights", which pretty much says it all; and the author note to the first US edition of A Storm of Wings, which rather over-eggs that particular pudding.

But note further than the short-story omnibus listed below contains a re-titled and microscopically but importantly revised version of what Harrison has indicated is the linchpin tale fo the cycle, originally "A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium", renamed in the omnibus "A Young Man's Journey to London".

These are the two collections Harrison references in the text above:

And this is the short-story omnibus, Things That Never Happen; it comes with a good introductory essay on Harrison by China Miéville.

There is also a two-book omnibus of Harrison's novels Signs of Life and Course of the Heart, available new only in paperback in the British edition: Anima.

There are not, to my knowledge, any other distinctive editions of any of Harrison's works.

Russell Hoban

There is a hardcover Russell Hoban Omnibus available, which includes both of his books so far reviewed here--The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz and Pilgermann--plus a good deal more (Turtle Diary, Mr. Rinyo-Clacton's Offer, samples from his short stories, essays, and poetry, and part of an unfinished sequel to The Mouse and His Child).

William Hope Hodgson

Night Shade Books has a nice, matched set of Hodgson omnibuses available, five, and for all I know more to come. The two that contain work on the lists here are these:

  • The House on the Borderland and Other Mysterious Places (Volume 2 of the set), including The House on the Borderland, the complete Carnacki the Ghost Finder, and eleven short stories.

  • The Night Land and Other Romances (Volume 4 of the set), including The Night Land and a half-dozen either stories or novellas--The Captain of the Onion Boat, The Smugglers, In the Wailing Gully, The Girl with the Grey Eyes, Kind, Kind and Gentle Is She, A Timely Escape .

Cordwainer Smith

Smith's literally wonderful "Instrumentality of man" work fits into just two volumes: the novel and the short stories. Both are available in pleasant and definitive--Smith's work has been cut up and played with an awful lot, but this is the work as it should be--hardcover editions from NESFA Press (the New England Science Fiction Association). They are:

A Couple of Two-Star Authors

J. M. Barrie

The character "Peter Pan" first appeared in an 1902 adult novel by Barrie titled "The Little White Bird", in which Peter Pan is described in a story told to a child--a Peter that is very different from the common vision nowadays held. In 1904, Barrie wrote the famous play, "Peter Pan", featuring the Peter now generally known. Then, in 1906, Barrie produced a prose text like the original description but quite unlike the play, published under the title Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens; finally, in 1911, he turned the play into a book called Peter and Wendy, which is now usually just called Peter Pan and (with the play) is the widely known form of the tale.

While there are now some versions of Kensington back in print, the obvious choice for a "preferred" edition would be one comprising both of the Peter stories, and there are now three such volumes available, albeit all paperbacks; they are not very different in price, so I list all three as "preferred", though each has some different "extra" besides the two tales themselves. They are:

With those combination volumes available, the only other available edition of either tale worth considering is the incredibly illustrated Peter Pan: The Original Tale of Neverland, Complete and Unabridged, just because of those stupendous illustrations--a computer-combined combination of photography and imagery, stunning and luscious. That book is, regrettably, no longer available new, but you might want to consider looking for a used copy of that specially illustrated Peter Pan edition.

Nikolai Gogol

The differences here are translation and editions of that translation. The clearly preferred collection of Gogol's short fixtion is The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol as translated by the well-known team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky; moreover, the original edition (1999) is to some extent superseded by the "revised" edition from 2003, which (I presume) is carried to the 2008 Everyman edition. Assuming that correct, then, the wanted editons are The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol paperback, and The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol hardcover.

A One-Star Author

John Collier

There have been several collections of Collier's stories published under the same name, Fancies and Goodnights, but with varying contents. Apparently the later the edition, the more the stories in it. The current edition is thus the preferred edition.

---===And that's what there is so far===---

(I will try to keep this page up with the essays on the individual-author pages, meaning that whenever I place an essay on an author page I will add listings, if any apply, to this page; I am through the five-star authors, and hope to finish the four-star authors Real Soon Now.)

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