58. Undersea Fleet


Middle volume in the trilogy, after Undersea Quest and before Undersea City.

Gnome notes

CHALKER states 5000 printed in two bindings; first in gray boards (about 3000), second c1959 in green cloth (about 2000). CURREY, in the 1979 hardcover, reverses the priorities with no dates. By the time of his 2002 CD-ROM, however, he found two additional bindings between those two, blue-green boards and red boards. Both Earthman’s Burden and Two Sought Adventure have red board variants not in the original CURREY, which raises the possibility that they all went back for a new and very small binding at the same time. Unfortunately, the original dust jacket was kept for all, making dating uncertain.

I would be inclined to agree with CHALKER, except that I still haven’t found a copy in the gray boards, nor is there even an image of one online. But CURREY can’t be right either. It took me 40 years to locate a green boards variant, and that was an ex-library jacketless mess. (The library was on the Bitburg US Air Force base in Germany. Finding YA science fiction there is one of the most 50s things imaginable. Was it shelved next to Tom Swift?) The blue-green boards and red boards I bought years ago. I know of no Gnome title in which the first priority book isn’t the most easily available. If the green, gray, and red boards are all later then by default the blue-green boards have priority. One alternate possibility is that the green boards went first but almost exclusively to libraries. All the early newspaper mentions were from library acquisitions and predate reviews by ten months. Add it to the pile of Gnome mysteries.

This is by far the scarcest Gnome title online. The third volume, Undersea City, is easy to find, but right at the moment of typing only one copy each of this and Undersea Quest are listed. How can this possibly be true for a book with four bindings? [A year later, three of each are available. Nobody gives the color of the boards, though.]

The Japanese edition by Kodansha in 1957 is easily the most beautiful standard trade edition of any Gnome-related book, and probably of any standard trade edition I’ve ever seen. The boards match the cover, the endpapers are another great drawing, the frontispiece is iconic 50s science fiction, the foldout has a map on the reverse side, and the text is, in the cliche, profusely illustrated with half-page, full-page, and double-page black and white drawings, with English text. It is not listed in the ISFDB and I know of it only because I have Greenberg’s file copy, signed by both Pohl and Williamson. More about foreign editions in The American and Foreign Reprints.

Cover art by Komatsuzaki Shigeru , Kodansha, 1957
interior foldout by Komatsuzaki Shigeru , Kodansha, 1957


Sadie Stevens, Carrol [IA] Daily Times Herald, September 18, 1957
A Science fiction sequel to Undersea Quest, which, despite some overly fantastic and sensational aspects, offers fast-paced adventure to boys.

Contents and Original Publications

• Chapters 1-22 (original to this volume).

Bibliographic Information

Undersea Fleet, by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, 1956, copyright registration 1Sep56, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 55-12189, title #58, back panel #31, 187 pages. $2.75. 5000 copies printed 1956, unknown number bound?. Hardback. Cover by Ed Emsh. “FIRST EDITION” stated on copyright page. Manufactured in the United States of America. Back panel: 36 titles. Gnome’s address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.

          Variants, no known priority

1) (CURREY A) Green cloth, spine lettered in brown.

2) (CURREY B) Blue-green boards, spine lettered in brown.

3) (CURREY C) Red boards, spine lettered in black.

4) (CURREY D) Gray boards, spine lettered in red. [not seen]


Undersea Fleet, jacket front, all variants
Undersea Fleet, jacket flaps, all variants
Undersea Fleet, light-green cloth, red lettering, variant 1
Undersea Fleet, blue-green boards, red lettering, variant 2
Undersea Fleet, red boards, black lettering, variant 3