Alfred Elton van Vogt (1912-2000) was one of the wunderkinds John W. Campbell first published in Astounding in that magical year 1939. From that first story, “The Black Destroyer,” published as part of The Voyage of the Space Beagle by mainstream giant Simon & Schuster in 1950, he was considered a giant of the field. That first story rated the cover illustration, a rare distinction. Over the next decade he published about 50 stories in Campbell’s Astounding and Unknown, many of them collected in novel form. Every specialty publisher wanted him, and he saw books come out from Arkham House, Hadley Publishing, Shasta Publishers, Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc., and Fantasy Press, in addition to Gnome, missing only Prime Press for a complete sweep of the field. He also sold books to small mainstream houses Greenberg: Publisher, Pellegrini and Cudahy, and Frederick Fell. About a dozen van Vogt titles appeared in hardback between 1946 and 1952, and a few more saw original paperback publication. He was momentarily everywhere.
Alfred Vogt was the first major Canadian f&sf author; he added on the “Elton van” legally when he applied for American citizenship in 1945. His wife, Edna May Hull, changed her name to Edna Mayne van Vogt at the same time. She also is credited with about a dozen Astounding and Unknown stories of her own as E. Mayne Hull, although Isaac Walwyn has argued that was a pseudonym Alfred used when he had two stories in an issue, as Robert Heinlein was also Anson MacDonald and Lyle Monroe.
Van and Mayne moved to California in 1944. He became head of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics operation in 1950. Even though he split with Hubbard when Scientology emerged, van Vogt stopped writing f&sf from 1951 to 1963. That avalanche of hardbacks was all old, repacked material, with the exception of one original, The House That Stood Still. His reputation slipped without reinforcement from new material and his return to the field in the 1960s produced nothing that matched the resonance of his 1940s work. After Mayne died, he married Lydia Bereginsky and they did joint signings at conventions: both names happen to be on my copy of The Mixed Men.
CURREY gives no clues as to the dates of the two bindings. (He also says that the spine is lettered in orange, but I’ve seen several copies and they are all far more of a red.) CHALKER gives the second date as “c1955,” but as we’ve seen, he was wrong about several other 1955 dates and is almost certainly wrong about this one. Mixed is dropped permanently as a title on back panels starting with mid-1954’s Northwest of Earth. It’s not possible to believe that a new binding would be made in 1954 and the book never advertised as for sale. A better possibility is 1953, as indicated by KEMP. Unfortunately, he adds confusion to the claim, the line reading “second blue cloth 2,000 (1953 $1.15). (Printed simultaneously by U.S. SF Book Club from Gnome plates.)” True, The Mixed Men is one of three Gnome titles to be reprinted by the early-1950s Doubleday Science-Fiction Book Club. (see The Science-Fiction Book Club Gnomes) Nevertheless, there should be no confusion between the two printings. Nor is there the slightest piece of evidence that a Gnome volume had a $1.15 price on it when it could be sold for $2.75. I haven’t been able to find the cloth variant, even though more than once I’ve been sold one purporting to be cloth by dealers who should know better.
Kirkus Reviews gave the expected publication date as April 28, 1952.
George O. Smith, Space Science Fiction, May 1953.
This should be called The Mixed (Up) Men.
Groff Conklin, Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1952
[Van Vogt’s] formula is grandiose, perhaps a little megalomaniac, but undeniably imaginative – product of a mind that will not be tied down by the basics of modern physical, chemical, or psycho-biological sciences. …
This is atomic-powered wish fulfillment!
Contents and Original Publication
• “Prologue” (rewritten from “Concealment,” Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943).
• Chapters 1-7 (original to this volume).
• Chapters 8-15 (rewritten from “The Storm,” Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1943).
• Chapters 16-23 (rewritten from “The Mixed Men,” Astounding Science Fiction, January 1945).
The Mixed Men, by A. E. van Vogt, 1952, copyright registration 1May52, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number not given [retroactively 52-10217], title #22, back panel #20, 253 pages, $2.75. 5000 copies printed, 3000 bound 1952, 2000 bound 1953? Hardback. Cover design by Ric Binkley. “FIRST EDITION” on copyright page. Designed by: David Kyle. Printed by: H. Wolff. Manufactured in the United States of America. Back panel: 4 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.
1) (CURREY A) Dark blue boards, spine lettered in red.
2) (CURREY B) Dark blue cloth, spine lettered in red. [not seen]