Second Foundation

Each of the Gnome Foundation books has multiple editions and multiple questions. Second Foundation would be far the easiest to sort out were it not for one puzzler.

The original 1953 first edition has two states, blue boards and green boards. The book appeared again in 1955 in gray cloth. This is the CURREY (C) binding, although CHALKER notes that Greenberg himself called it a reprint, which would make it a second printing. Hard to believe it is anything but. ESHBACH says that the Foundation books were the bestselling Gnome titles, other than Marty Greenberg’s own anthologies. How could there have been 2500 unbound copies left by 1955? (In fact, this would be the last title that ESHBACH marks as having a second printing.)

The strangeness enters with what CURREY calls the (D) binding:

(D) Boards with cloth shelf back; DOUBLEDAY/SCIENCE/FICTION at base of spine.

CHALKER lists it as a 1963 Doubleday reprint, which used the original plates.

Second foundation doubleday jacket front

Second foundation doubleday jacket flaps

Second foundation doubleday cloth with boards

Original plates means using the original copyright page. That’s right: this reprint from another publisher states that it is a Gnome Press first edition.

Second foundation copyright page

What makes this triply bizarre is that Doubleday, in the form of its Science Fiction Book Club, had earlier put out a true reprint, which properly eliminated all mention of Gnome and of first editions.

Second foundation SFBC copyright pageHowever, the SFBC edition did reuse the Gnome front cover. See it on my Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club page. It’s physically smaller than any of the others and couldn’t be confused if closely looked at: the oversized dust jacket that overlaps the spine on both sides is a dead giveaway as a Book Club edition.

The 1963 Doubleday edition, though, is a much nicer book than the Gnomes are. It has a better handfeel. Only a few actual Gnomes stand up to it.

My bottom line is that I agree with CHALKER, and that the CURREY (D) state is not to be included under the Gnome banner.

Contents and original publication:

• “Prolog” (Original to this volume)
• “Now You See It…” (Astounding Science Fiction, January 1948)
• “…and Now You Don’t” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1949, December 1949, and January 1950)

Charles Aukerman, a copy boy “who especially enjoys science fiction,” reviewed Second Foundation for the Elyria [OH] Chronicle Telegram on August 25, 1956.

The suspense builds as one man after another seems to have the answer in his grasp, only to be proven wrong by later events.

Groff Conklin reviewed it for the November 1953 Galaxy:

For my taste, it is a thoroughly satisfying and adult play of the scientific imagination.


Second Foundation, by Isaac Asimov, 1953, title #38, 255 pages, $2.75. 5000 hardbound copies printed, 1951. 2500 hardbound copies printed, 1955.

Hardback. Jacket design by Ric Binkley. “FIRST EDITION” stated on copyright page. Manufactured in the U.S.A. by H. Wolff. Back cover: 25 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th Street, N. Y. 3

1) CURREY (A) blue boards with brown lettering on spine. 1953 binding.
2) CURREY (B) green boards with black lettering on spine. 1953 binding.
3) CURREY (C) gray cloth with red lettering on spine. 1955 printing.

Second foundation jacket front
Second foundation jacket flapsSecond foundation blue boardsSecond foundation green boards

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