Two Sought Adventure

Yet another John W. Campbell find in that magical year of 1939, Fritz Leiber (usually billed as Fritz Leiber Jr. until his Shakespearean actor father died in 1949) is a member of that small band of writers who made a big splash with his first published work. “Two Sought Adventure” appeared in the August 1939 Unknown and introduced the characters of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, who would reappear for the next 50 years in about 40 stories and novels and be recycled in seemingly that many collections. Gnome came first in order, reprinting all their stories up to that time with the exception of “Adept’s Gambit,” an original story in the Arkham House Leiber collection titled Night’s Black Agents. Why Greenberg or Leiber kept the title of that first story for the collection but changed the name of the story inside, thereby confusing all potential buyers, is puzzling.

Lionel Dillon did a beautiful, impressionistic cover. Lionel has only three recorded credits in the Internet Speculative Fiction database; this cover and two more for Gnome, The Seedling Stars and Methuselah’s Children. A diligent searcher might also see a Lionell Dillon listed for Tros of Samothrace. No biographical information is given for him there, or anywhere. Is he the same person as Leo Dillon, the prolific, talented, and award-laden illustrator who did most of his work in collaboration with his wife, Diane? Most certainly, yes. The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon blog lists all four titles and states that these were Leo Dillon solo work. This valuable information seems not to be available anywhere else.

I can’t say if Greenberg “discovered” him, but using him at all was a powerful move in 1957. Dillon happened to be black, of Trinadadian heritage. And he married Diane, who happened to be white, also in 1957, just a year after having met at the Parsons School of Design. An actual interracial couple was more futuristic at the time than anything Greenberg’s authors were putting in their books. There are few other examples of black artists in SF in the 1950s; hiring one, even one so obviously talented, was groundbreaking. Credit must also go to Horace Gold, who had Leo do covers for two of his Galaxy Novel series of digest-sized paperbacks, Leiber’s Destiny Times Three and L. Ron Hubbard’s Fear, in 1957, and interiors for Galaxy magazine from 1957 to 1960. (The  Galaxy interior art is signed merely “DILLON” but is all Leo’s solo work. The two Galaxy Novel covers, issued back to back as #28 and #29, are uncredited but are apparently collaborative work by Leo and Diane, since their blog doesn’t designate them as solo work. Both works have Gnome connections. “Destiny Times Three” had been collected in Greenberg’s anthology Five Science Fiction Novels and Fear was half of Typewriter in the Sky/Fear.)

All earlier Gnome bibliographies agreed that Two Sought Adventure existed in two states, black boards and gray cloth, with the gray cloth the later priority. CHALKER seems straightforward: 4000 copies printed, 3000 initially in black boards, 1000 in 1959-1960 in gray cloth.” KEMP says essentially the same: “3,000 copies printed in black boards. 1,000 gray cloth (c.1959).” But, as shown below, I have a previously unrecorded third binding, in red boards. The three books seem identical otherwise; even the paper is same cheap grade that Greenberg increasingly used in the later days. The logical sequencing to me is that 4000 copies were printed in 1957. Following Greenberg’s usual practice, he bound 3000 of them and warehoused the other copies until demand called for them. In 1959 he had most of them bound in the gray cloth and a few leftovers in the red boards. Alternatively, he had some of them bound in 1959 in gray and finished off the rest in 1960 in red.

Contents and original publication:

• “Induction” (original to this volume)
• “The Jewels in the Forest.” (Unknown, August 1939 as “Two Sought Adventure”)
• “Thieves’ House” (Unknown, February 1943)
• “The Bleak Shore” (Unknown, November 1940)
• “The Howling Tower” (Unknown, June 1941)
• “The Sunken Land” (Unknown, February 1942)
• “The Seven Black Priests” (Other Worlds, May 1953)
• “Claws From the Night” (Suspense Magazine, Fall 1951 as “Dark Vengeance”)

Ted Sturgeon reviewed the book in the November 1957 Venture:

Be glad to meet them, overjoyed to meet them again.

Two Sought Adventure, by Fritz Leiber, 1957, title #63, 186 pages, $3.00, 4000 copies printed, 1957; 3000 bound 1957; 1000 bound 1959 or 1960.

Cover design by Lionel Dillon. “First Edition” stated on copyright page. Printing & Binding by H. Wolff, New York. Back cover: 35 titles. Gnome Press address listed as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.

Variants, given in CURREY

1) CURREY (A) Black boards, red spine lettering bound 1957
2) CURREY (B) Gray cloth, red spine lettering, bound 1959?

Variant, Not in Currey

3) red boards, black spine lettering, bound 1959?

Two Sought Adventure jacket

Two Sought Adventure flaps

Two Sought Adventure black cover Two Sought Adventure gray cover two sought adventure red variant

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