As explained in detail on the Journey to Infinity page, Travelers of Space is the third in Marty Greenberg’s Adventures in Science Fiction Series and therefore postdates Journey in publication order. As a point of confirmation, its rear cover mentions Foundation, the presumptively last title Gnome published in 1951, while Journey’s does not.
The theme of the book is life on other worlds. Willy Ley’s “Introduction: Other Life Than Ours” is typically excellent work, clearly yet deeply summarizing what was then known about the possibilities of life elsewhere in the solar system, the chemistry of silicon-based lifeforms, how to determine if an alien world could support life, familiar or not, and the possibility of life originating not on Earth but in spores from outer space, panspermia. He then proceeds to attempt to calculate how many other planets in the galaxy are “on the verge of space travel.”
If that sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of the much more famous Drake Equation, written in 1961 by astronomer Dr. Frank Drake. Ley proceeds down a virtually identical pathway a full decade earlier.
We can reason like this: Our island universe, our galaxy, contains at least 15 billion suns. … Being as pessimistic as is consistent with good sense we’ll put the number of suns with planets down as one billion, or 1,000,000,000. Each of these can be expected to have at least two planets of the type of Earth and Mars. This gives us two billion planets in our galaxy that can be expected to harbor life.
If we say that just one out of a hundred of these planets has progressed far enough to produce intelligent life of some sort, we arrive at the fantastic figure of twenty million planets with intelligent beings. Again, if only one out of a hundred of these intelligent types have progressed as far in the engineering sciences as we have, we get two hundred thousand planets on the verge of space travel.
And if, again, one out of a hundred is no longer just “at the verge” – but here begins the realm of science fiction.
Maybe we need to start a campaign to relabel it the Ley equation.
As usual with Gnome, a fair number of oddities crept into the production of the book. Samuel Anthony Peeples’ name is shortened to Samuel A. Peeples after the “Dictionary of Science Fiction” and outright misspelled as Samuel Anthony Peebles on the Contents page.
The Contents page also deserves a second and third and fourth and fifth look. The pseudonyms Robert Heinlein used early in his career had long been known. Gnome itself had published Sixth Column, originally as by Anson MacDonald, as a Heinlein book without ever mentioning MacDonald. Yet “Columbus Was a Dope,” is credited to Heinlein’s secondary pseudonym of Lyle Monroe both on the Contents page and in the body of the text even though it is “by Robert A. Heinlein” in the listing of copyright credits.
Christopher Youd is another less famous name for a famous author, though Greenberg could hardly have known that at the time. Sam Youd (not Samuel) adopted the name Christopher as his confirmation name, and published one poem as C. S. Youd as a teen. “Christmas Tree,” which appeared in the February 1949 Astounding seems to be the first story Youd published and one of only four under that name. In 1951 he switched to using Samuel Youd for a half dozen novels while simultaneously using John Christopher for short stories. As John Christopher he would gain huge fame for The Death of Grass (No Blade of Grass in the U.S.).
Campbell had a good eye for young authors, but so did Greenberg. Remarkably, there were two other first stories in Travelers, Keith Bennett’s “The Rocketeers Have Shaggy Ears,” and Robertson Osborne’s “Action on Azura,” both from Planet Stories. That’s Bennett’s only story listed on ISFDB.org and one of only two for Osborne. Absolutely nothing is known about them. Were they pseudonyms that have slipped by everyone?
Edd Cartier contributed 16 full-color illustrations of aliens, with Dave Kyle writing a story about an “Interstellar Zoo” to describe them. The native of Jupiter’s moon Callisto looks remarkably like Chewbacca and is just slightly taller at nine feet.
And then there’s the utter mystery that is the second printing cover. Most of the titles listed here under the Variants tab are the first edition pages set aside at publication and later bound using different boards when the need arose. A few titles, especially the Greenberg anthologies, had a true second printing, with more pages being printed but with identical bindings. That doesn’t make much sense on the face of it – wouldn’t a true second printing years later have wound up with different boards as well? – but Greenberg didn’t scrimp on his own books as he did on others. Both Men Against the Stars and Journey to Infinity reused the front dust jacket cover drawing for the second printing, merely changing the back cover to update the titles available for sale. For Travelers Greenberg used a Ric Binkley painting to create an entirely new front cover to go along with the enhanced new back cover. This is the only time in Gnome history that a totally different variant cover was produced for the standard trade market. (The other variant cover, on Murray Leinster’s The Forgotten Planet, is its own unique story.)
Why? Totally unknown. I can’t even point to a bit of speculation. When? That’s not an easy question either. The ISFDB.org gives the date as 1953. KEMP and CHALKER give 1955. That can’t be right: the titles listed on the rear cover go through Second Foundation, the last book of 1953, with not a single 1954 book mentioned. Gnome is known to have listed books before publication; in fact, the first state dust jacket features Foundation, which followed both Journey and Travelers. So the date can be either late 1953 or very early 1954. Since every single book published in 1954 mentions Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars, even though it was the third book published that year, and Travelers doesn’t, I’m siding with a 1953 date.
Contents and original publication:
• “Foreword,” by Martin Greenberg (original to this volume)
• “Introduction: Other Life Than Ours,” by Willy Ley (original to this volume)
• “Preface,” by Samuel Anthony Peeples (original to this volume: misspelled as Peebles on contents page)
• “A Dictionary of Science Fiction,” by Samuel A. Peeples, David A. Kyle, and Martin Greenberg (original to this volume; none are credited on contents page)
• “The Interstellar Zoo,” by David Kyle (original to this volume)
• “Illustrations: Life on Other Worlds,” by Edd Cartier (original to this volume)
• “The Rocketeers Have Shaggy Ears,” by Keith Bennett (Planet Stories, Spring 1950)
• “Christmas Tree,” by Christopher Youd [John Christopher] (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1949)
• “The Forgiveness of Tenchu Taen,” by F. A. Kummer, Jr. (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1938)
• “Episode on Dhee Minor,” by Harry Walton (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1939)
• “The Shape of Things,” by Ray Bradbury (Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1948)
• “Columbus was a Dope,” by Lyle Monroe [Robert A. Heinlein] (Startling Stories, May 1947)
• “Attitude,” by Hal Clement (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1943)
• “The Ionian Cycle,” by William Tenn (Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1948)
• “Trouble on Tantalus,” by P. Schuyler Miller (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1941),
• “Placet is a Crazy Place,” by Fredric Brown (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1946)
• “Action on Azura,” by Robertson Osborne (Planet Stories, Autumn 1949)
• “The Rull,” by A. E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1948)
• “The Double-Dyed Villains,” by Poul Anderson (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1949)
• “Bureau of Slick Tricks,” by H. B. Fyfe (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1948)
An anonymous reviewer in the January 27, 1952 Oakland Tribune called out:
a special descriptive piece introducing color illustrations which make Dali look like a sidewalk photographer by comparison.
Oddly, six months later on July 23, the same paper reprinted August Derleth’s “Books Today” column with another review.
TRAVELERS OF SPACE is a good cross-section of the imagination possessed by science-fiction writers insofar as inhabitants of other worlds are concerned.
Groff Conklin reviewed it in the May 1952 Galaxy:
Publisher-Editor Greenberg has given us a really portentous volume here, full of miscellaneous apparati and whammies.
Martin Greenberg, Editor, Travelers of Space, Adventures in Science Fiction Series 3, 1951, title #17, 400 pages, $3.95. 5000 copies printed 1951, 2500 printed 1953 or early 1954.
Hardback, red cloth-backed spine with gray cloth and silver lettering. Rocket ship traveling between stars embossed into front cloth. “FIRST EDITION” on copyright page. Colonial Press, Inc. Printers. David Kyle, Book Designer. Foreword by Martin Greenberg; Introduction by Willy Ley.
1. Red and black jacket depicting aliens; front flap: Jacket Illustration by Edd Cartier with Design by David Kyle; Back cover: 10 titles, prose intro, Gnome Press address is given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3, printed 1951.
2. Blue two-color cover; front flap: Illustrations by Edd Cartier with Jacket Design by Ric Binkley; Back cover: 30 titles, no intro, with latest title Second Foundation, a late 1953 release, Gnome Press address is given as 80 East 11th St., N. Y. 3, printed 1953 or 1954.