Earthman’s Burden

Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson are part of the illustrious generation that started publishing after WWII, Anderson starting in Astounding in 1947 and Dickson in 1950, with “Trespass” in the Spring 1950 Fantastic Story Quarterly, a collaboration with Anderson. They were, in fact, classmates at the University of Minnesota, both graduating in 1948.

In 1951, they collaborated again, this time on a yarn about a race of alien teddy-bears who loved Earthian culture so much that they began living it, allowing the two to spoof westerns, pirates, and Sherlock Holmes. Earthman’s Burden – SF writers notoriously love Rudyard Kipling, and the attitude of Golden Age writers toward aliens is consistently imperialistic in tone – collects the first five Hoka stories and adds a new one. They added three more to the series in 1957 but those were timed to appear alongside the Gnome compilation.

CHALKER tries to make sense of the variant bindings:

Actual in-print number, we believe, is 3000 in two bindings, the first 2000 copies in pale blue boards, about 1000 in 1959 in gray cloth; the other 2000 we believe were never bound and were destroyed by Wolff in the liquidation.

Notice the similarities between this, The Seedling Stars and Two Sought Adventure. All three were published in 1957 and all three have a 1959 binding using gray cloth. (Interestingly, Starman’s Quest, Undersea City, and Methuselah’s Children also each have a later, 1959, printing in gray cloth.) This title and Two Sought Adventure both have an unrecorded binding in red boards; The Seedling Stars has a red boards variant with no known priority. (The title listing on the back of each is also identical, except that The Seedling Stars inexplicably omits 1955’s Reprieve from Paradise.) The speculation must be that Greenberg went back to Wolff and asked that additional warehoused copies be bound, using the set of red boards that happened to be available. Why do this for so few copies – few because so few have ever turned up – is another in the endless series of Gnome mysteries.

Contents and original publication:

• “The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch” (Other Worlds, May 1951 as “Heroes Are Made”)
• “Don Jones” (original to this volume)
• “The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound” (Universe, December 1953)
• “Yo Ho Hoka!” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1955)
• “The Tiddlywink Warriors” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1955)
• “Interlude I,” “Interlude II,” “Interlude III,” “Interlude IV,” “Interlude V,” “Postlude” (original to this volume)

Floyd C. Gale reviewed the collection in May 1958 Galaxy:

Hoka, like pickles, is a tasty appetizer in moderation, but but leaves a characteristic taste if overindulged.

Earthman’s Burden, by Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson, 1957, title #67, 185 pages, $3.00, 5000 copies printed, 2000 bound 1957, 1000 bound 1959.

Hardback. Jacket Design by Edd Cartier.”First edition” stated on copyright page. Printed by H. Wolff, New York. Back cover: 35 titles. Gnome’s address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.


1) CURREY (A) Pale blue boards, spine lettering in dark blue, printed 1957
2) CURREY (B) Gray cloth, spine lettering in red, printed 1959

Variant, Not in Currey

3) Red boards, spine lettering in black, printed 1959?

Earthman's Burden jacket front

Earthman's Burden jacket flaps

Earthman's Burden light blue cover Earthman's Burden gray cover Earthman's Burden red variant

2 thoughts on “Earthman’s Burden

  1. So a copy of Earthman’s Burden with the red boards is NOT a 1st edition?
    Even if states first edition and the library LCC No. also states 1st edition along with 1957 as the creation year?

    • There is no evidence that the red boards are the true first edition. All interior pages are identical for all editions. The pages were rebound with new boards at a later date. That’s what makes identification of Gnome variant priorities so difficult.

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