The rocket ship with trailing flames printed in silhouette on the cover is very similar to but not quite identical to the one embossed on the cover of Men Against the Stars. Still, it’s so close that it’s clear that they were meant to be a thematic symbol of “science fiction” as Gnome swung to a heavier emphasis on the sf side of the field. Another rocket ship with more detail is part of the spine decoration on the dust jacket.
CHALKER states “6000 copies printed, of which 1000 were bound as trade pb “Armed Forces Edition.” KEMP is possibly ambiguous: “5,000 copies printed. 1,000 paper copies bound for Armed Services Edition.” That could be read as meaning the same as CHALKER but to me implies 1,000 of the 5,000. For discussion of the problems behind Gnome Press trade paperbacks, see The Thirty-First of February.
The copy below was Marty Greenberg’s file copy, signed by him on the flap. The condition is good but hardly perfect, showing how impossible it is to find high quality copies of any of the trade paperbacks.
Originally published as a three-part serial in Astounding Science Fiction, February, March, and April 1939.
Basil Davenport reviewed Cosmic Engineers for the January 7, 1951 New York Times Book Review.
There is real imagination in the idea of the entity that has trapped them there – a collective race-mind but a race-mind in its dotage. In all, this comes under the general heading “space opera,” but it is better than most of its kind.
Groff Conklin reviewed it for the February 1951 Galaxy:
[I]t has an old-fashioned and somewhat frenetic ring to it which, nevertheless, is rather pleasant.
Cosmic Engineers, by Clifford D. Simak, 1950, title #11, 224 pages, $2.50. 6000 hardbound copies printed, 1949. Trade paperback copies bound from original run?, 195? “An Interplanetary Saga by Clifford D. Simak” on dust jacket; “An Interplanetary Novel by Clifford D. Simak” on title page.
Jacket design by Edd Cartier. “FIRST EDITION” stated on copyright page. No printer designated. Back cover: 2 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th Street, New York 3, N. Y.
1) Hardback, blue cloth with yellow lettering on spine. Rocket ship with flames on front cover. Probable first priority.
2) Hardback, tan boards with black lettering on spine. Rocket ship with flames on front cover. Probable second priority.
3) Trade paperback, front cover identical to hardback, back cover is blank white. COSMIC ENGINEERS by Clifford D. Simak printed in blue lettering on white spine. Stated “FIRST EDITION” but is later issue.