49. Address: Centauri


Floyd Lee Wallace (1915-2004) worked as a mechanical engineer when he sold his first story in 1950. It appeared in 1951, seemingly inevitably, in Astounding. Yet his career took a surprising turn. Wallace’s next story, a novella, was the cover story for the April 1952 Galaxy. Wallace’s third story also went to Galaxy, and his fifth and sixth and ninth, and many more. About half of his entire output appeared there, and he only sold to Astounding once again. Twenty-one of his stories appeared in f&sf magazines by 1957, but only three after that while a spate of a half dozen or so mysteries took up his time. His name simply vanishes from all genre after 1961.

Address: Centauri met nearly the same fate. Its only paperback publication came in 1958 as Galaxy Novel #32, the first of four mass-market paperbacks with the Galaxy name. Unfortunately, those are some of the most obscure releases in the history of the field and may have encouraged his flight from the genre. No other English-language publisher touched the novel until Wildside Press in 2009. Nor has a collection of his stories ever appeared in English. Few if any names as prominent as his from the early 1950s remain to be rediscovered.

Even so, Address: Centauri may have had some resonance in popular culture. The members of the first interstellar starship are misfits, grossly deformed in an era of perfect beauty, but virtually immortal and possessing special powers, making them a better fit for the dangerous mission. Silver Age comic books groups like the Doom Patrol and the Fantastic Four can be said to be descendants of Wallace’s “Accidentals,” a name that sounds very much like a comic book.

Cover art by Wallace Wood

Gnome Notes

CHALKER makes no mention of variant bindings, but two are known. No information about which came first or when the second appeared is available.

Contents and original publications

Chapters 1-16 (expanded and rewritten from “Accidental Flight,” Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1952).

Cover art by Richard Powers


Groff Conklin, Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1955
It sounds simple, I know, but Wallace has so enriched the idea with a memorably colorful set of characters and melodramatic circumstances that it becomes an unforgettable tale.

P. Schuyler Miller, Astounding Science Fiction, December 1955
Once this kind of yarn would be a pure Hollywood monster rally: Now the monsters are people.

Villers Gerson, Amazing Stories, November 1955
Although aptly plotted, Mr. Wallace’s tale has a serious defect: his characters do not react to each other, nor can we react to them. … The result is a loss of affect, of emotion, and thus, of reader identification.

Bibliographic Information

Address: Centauri, by F. L. Wallace, 1955, copyright registration 25Apr55, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 55-6843, title #49, back panel #29, 220 pages, $3.00. 4000 copies printed. Hardback. Cover design by Ed Emsh. “First Edition” on copyright page. Type set by: Slugs Composition Company. Printing & Binding by: H. Wolff. Manufactured in the U.S.A. Back panel: 39 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.

         Variants, no known priority

1) Tan boards, spine lettered in black.

2) Dark blue cloth, spine lettered in red.


Address: Centauri, jacket front, all variants
Address: Centauri, jacket flaps, all variants
Address: Centauri, tan boards, black lettering, variant 1
Address: Centauri, blue cloth, red lettering, variant 2