The Dating Problem

(CHALKER –Jack L. Chalker & Mark Owings, The Science Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History, third edition, (Westminster, MD: The Mirage Press Ltd., 1991))

(CURREY – L.W. Currey, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction, revised edition, (rbPublishing CD-ROM, 2002))

(ESHBACH – Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era (Philadelphia: Oswald Twain: Publisher, 1983))

Back in the 1930s, a group of monomaniacal and erudite fans embarked on the Great Game, attempting to reconcile the haphazardly ad hoc dating in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the world’s most beloved literary hack, cared not a fig for continuity. At times, as in “The Red-Headed League,” he apparently didn’t bother to reread the beginning of the story when he wrote the ending. The Great Game combined the pleasures of crossword puzzles, sudoku, scavenger hunts, and mystery stories themselves as practitioners combed through the Canon – the 60Holmes stories and novels – hunting word by word for clues to Sherlock’s education, travels, skills, influences, and – primus inter alia – his chronology. At least a half-dozen full-length books are devoted to dating the stories. They agree on the exact day and date of only one story, “His Last Bow.”

The publication order of the 86 Gnome Press volumes should be far easier to determine. The information comes from Marty Greenberg himself, after all. Lloyd Eshbach set it down in print in Over My Shoulder, his memoirs of the post-World War II science fiction small presses. Every other commentator followed him without demur.

And yet I stumbled across an irreconcilable impossibility when examining Travelers in Space and Journey to Infinity, two of Greenberg’s anthologies in the Adventures in Science Fiction Series. ESHBACH lists them in that order as titles #16 and #17. Releasing two anthologies back-to-back is an odd move in itself but the true stumbling block appears in their respective Forewords. Journey to Infinity is referred to as “this second book” in the Adventures series after Men Against the Stars; Travelers of Space as “This third volume.” Journey to Infinity must have preceded Travelers of Space. Sure enough, the back panel of Journey to Infinity mentions only Men Against the Stars, while Travelers of Space lists Journey to Infinity in place of that title. (I wouldn’t have had to intuit this if I knew where to look. The back panels of The Sword of Conan and Five Science Fiction Novels lay it out in so many words.)

Switching the order of the two titles was trivially easy, but the back-to-back release nagged at me. Was there a way to determine if other titles appeared in between? For other projects I had gotten familiar with the Catalog of Copyright Entries, a compendium of all copyright registrations that was at the time issued in hardcovers twice a year by the Copyright Office. Google had them scanned and therefore searchable online.

The Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: Books January – June 1951 has a listing for Journey to Infinity, showing a registration of January 3, 1951 (3Jan1951 in their compact formatting). Travelers of Space is not there. It doesn’t turn up until The Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: Books January – June 1952, where it’s shown as 3Jan1952, a year to the day later. Not first, not sequential, and one would think not easily misremembered as such. Possibly the confusion lay in both carrying copyright dates of 1951, although this too is hard to explain. A parenthetical note in the entry for Travelers gives a partial explanation: it was “in notice: 1951,” i.e. the book was sent to the Library of Congress in late 1951 but not processed until after the break. That explanation clouds rather than clears the reason why the same did not apply for Journey to Infinity, giving it a 1950copyright. Something about the sending and processing timeline must have been just sufficiently different.

The complete entry for Travelers of Space is a fine example of the richness of information packed into the brief confines of a public notice.

GREENBERG, MARTIN, ed.

Travelers of space. Introduced by Willy
     Ley; illustrated by Edd Cartier; Special
     feature: Science fiction dictionary;
     introd, by Samuel Anthony Peeples.
     Special story for illus. by David Kyle.
     [1st ed.] New York, Gnome Press
     [1952,c1951] 400 p. (Adventures in
     science fiction series) © Martin Green-
     berg; 3Jan1952 (in notice: 1951); A69038.

Unfortunately for bibliographers these capsule summaries must have been written by whichever clerk processed the book because they follow no standard template for what is to be included and aren’t consistently written even when similar information is presented.

Table 1, in which the books are listed in ESHBACH’s order, contains all the registration dates that can be found for Gnome titles, including those titles copyright by other firms. (The Maco Magazine Co. for Jeffrey Logan’s The Complete Book of Outer Space and Dell Publishing for Judith Merril’s anthologies.) Oddities and discrepancies appear immediately. Frank Owen’s The Porcelain Magician contains a copyright date of 1948 but was not registered until February 20, 1949. The explanation is the same as for Travelers of Space: it was in notice in 1948.

OWEN, FRANK.

The porcelain magician: a collection of
      oriental fantasies. Illustrated by Frances 
      E. Dunn. New York, Gnome Press. 
      256 p. ©Frank Owen. 20Feb49 (in
      notice: 1948); A42294.

An example of the lack of consistency is that this entry does not contain the copyright year information given in Travelers of Space. That the copyright is listed in Owen’s name is not an inconsistency: all Gnome copyrights were in the author’s name. (The few partial exceptions include the introductions to the Conan books, which were copyright by The Gnome Press.)

Copyright registrations are missing for several titles. These require individual explanation. The two Talbot Mundy novels, Tros of Samothrace and Purple Pirate, and Edward E. Smith’s Gray Lensman, were reprints of already copyrighted material without any new front matter as in the Conan volumes. No registration was needed. (Consistency is also missing here. A number of other titles, such as The Porcelain Magician, consist of nothing but material previously published in full in magazines with no mention of rewriting or expansion and no new front material. Apparently, purported novels having prior book publication could get by with no new registration.)

Judith Merril’s four Year’s Greatest anthologies were published in paperback by Dell, as Dell First Edition B103, B100, B119, and B129. They were registered by Dell rather than by Gnome. I could not find any record of a registration of the first volume. According to the ISFDB, W. R. Cole’s Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies gives the publication date of the paperback as May 1956 and the Gnome hardcover as July 1956, but CURREY and BLEILER state they were published simultaneously. William H. Lyles, in his Dell Paperbacks, 1942 to Mid-1962: A Catalog-Index, also states that the Dell and Gnome editions were published simultaneously, but gives April 1956 as the publishing date for B103. B102 was published in March and B104 in October, which leaves wide leeway for an intervening book. It’s not clear how he derived the date for B103. B104 is dated October only because later editions gave the first edition this date. That Year’s Greatest did not have a second edition, which makes backfitting a date impossible.

A similar problem befalls Frederik Pohl’s Drunkard’s Walk. The short novel appeared in two parts in the June and August 1960 Galaxy Science Fiction and then was reprinted as Ballantine Books439 K. The Ballantine paperback states “Copyright © 1960 by Frederik Pohl” but again no mention is made in any volume of the Catalog of Copyright Entries. The third edition paperback gives the date of the first edition as November 1960. The Gnome hardcover repeats the copyright from Ballantine. When was the Gnome edition printed? Sources aren’t clear. CHALKER states:

Greenberg actually used the pb plates for his subsequent hb! Sources at Ballantine said that was part of the deal, although both were supposed to be out simultaneously.

Subsequent or not, CHALKER lists the Gnome edition as 1960, following ESHBACH even though their earlier edition had it in 1961. CURREY also gives it a 1961 date as does KEMP.

Robert Silverberg’s Starman’s Quest is not listed either, perhaps the most baffling omission. The novel is one of the few titles Gnome published whose contents did not have an earlier magazine appearance; a registration is critical. The copyright page states “Copyright 1958 by Robert Silverberg” but the actual date of publication is disputed. ESHBACH says 1958 and CHALKER follows while CURREY opts for 1959. A note on the ISFDB page says, quoting three general sources, “Clute/Nicholls, Tuck have this as ’59, Reginald1 as ’58.” The original hardcover does say 1959but the online sf-encyclopedia.com lists the book as 1958 in Silverberg’s entry. Silverberg himself, in his memoir, Robert Silverberg: Other Spaces, Other Times, opts for 1958. He didn’t realize the book hadn’t been registered at the time but since he produced a completely rewritten and properly copyrighted version in 1969, he never bothered to belatedly protect a youthful book that presumably nobody would bother to reprint.

If the omission of books from registration is odd, E. B. Cole’s The Philosophical Corps is perhaps more puzzling for its appearance. It is not listed until the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series:1965: January-June. Why it does not appear until 1965 is inexplicable. Justas mysterious is that the registration date is given as 10Dec62 despite being in notice: 1961. Cole held the dubious distinction of being Gnome’s last book, a desperate heave by a failing concern. That cannot explain the lag of a year in the registration date, nor that the book was available long before December 1962.

Table 1: Eshbach’s Order

# AuthorTitlePub.Copyright
1L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher PrattThe Carnelian Cube194811/1/1948
2Frank OwenThe Porcelain Magician19482/20/1949
3Nelson Bond The Thirty-first of February19496/18/1949
4George O. Smith Pattern for Conquest 194911/16/1949
5Robert A. HeinleinSixth Column194912/7/1949
6Martin Greenberg (ed)Men Against the Stars19503/20/1950
7L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher PrattThe Castle of Iron19507/1/1950
8William Gray BeyerMinions of the Moon19507/15/1950
9Robert E. HowardConan the Conqueror195010/17/1950
10Isaac AsimovI, Robot195012/20/1950
11Clifford D. SimakCosmic Engineers195011/25/1950
12Will StewartSeetee Ship19517/15/1951
13Lewis PadgettThe Fairy Chessmen195112/1/1951
14Raymond F. JonesRenaissance19514/15/1951
15L. Ron HubbardTypewriter in the Sky and Fear19515/15/1951
16Martin Greenberg (ed)Travelers of Space19511/3/1952
17Martin Greenberg (ed)Journey to Infinity19511/3/1951
18Isaac AsimovFoundation19519/15/1951
19A. E. van VogtThe Mixed Men19525/1/1952
20Lewis PadgettRobots Have No Tails19525/15/1952
21Clifford D. SimakCity19525/15/1952
22C. L. MooreJudgment Night195212/15/1952
23Robert E. HowardThe Sword of Conan19524/1/1952
24Martin Greenberg (ed)Five Science Fiction Novels19524/1/1952
25Arthur C. ClarkeSands of Mars19524/15/1952
26Leigh BrackettThe Starmen195211/15/1952
27Isaac AsimovFoundation and Empire19529/15/1952
28Wilmar H. ShirasChildren of the Atom19535/15/1953
29Nat SchachnerSpace Lawyer195311/1/1953
30Lewis PadgettMutant195310/20/1953
31C. L. MooreShambleau and Others195311/1/1953
32Jeffrey Logan (ed)The Complete Book of Outer Space195310/20/1953
33Robert E. HowardThe Coming of Conan195310/25/1953
34Robert E. HowardKing Conan19533/2/1953
35Martin Greenberg (ed)The Robot and the Man19533/15/1953
36Hal ClementIceworld19534/15/1953
37Arthur C. ClarkeAgainst the Fall of Night19534/15/1953
38Isaac AsimovSecond Foundation19535/15/1953
39Robert E. HowardConan the Barbarian195411/1/1954
40Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea Quest195411/25/1954
41William MorrisonMel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars19547/15/1954
42C. L. MooreNorthwest of Earth195410/25/1954
43Murray LeinsterThe Forgotten Planet19547/21/1954
44L. Sprague de CampLost Continents19543/25/1954
45Arthur C. ClarkePrelude to Space19543/10/1954
46Jack Williamson & James GunnStar Bridge19553/25/1955
47F. L. WallaceAddress: Centauri19554/25/1955
48Andrew NorthSargasso of Space19555/25/1955
49Robert Howard & L. Sprague de CampTales of Conan195512/5/1955
50James GunnThis Fortress World195510/25/1955
51Martin Greenberg (ed)All About the Future19551/15/1955
52H. Chandler ElliottReprieve from Paradise19557/25/1955
53Groff Conklin (ed)Science Fiction Terror Tales19552/15/1955
54George O. SmithHighways in Hiding19567/15/1956
55Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea Fleet19569/1/1956
56Andrew NorthPlague Ship19562/5/1956
57Judith Merril (ed)SF: The Year’s Greatest1956NA
58Arthur K. BarnesInterplanetary Hunter19563/15/1956
59Robert RandallThe Shrouded Planet19579/25/1957
60Bjorn Nyberg & L. Sprague de CampThe Return of Conan19578/25/1957
61Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’57: The Year’s Greatest19577/9/1957
62Murray LeinsterColonial Survey19574/15/1957
63Fritz LeiberTwo Sought Adventure19575/15/1957
64Martin Greenberg (ed)Coming Attractions19573/15/1957
65Mark Clifton & Frank RileyThey’d Rather Be Right195710/25/1957
66James BlishThe Seedling Stars19574/1/1957
67Poul Anderson & Gordon DicksonEarthman’s Burden19577/25/1957
68George O. SmithThe Path of Unreason19587/25/1959
69Robert SilverbergStarman’s Quest1958NA
70Frederik Pohl & Jack WilliamsonUndersea City19587/1/1958
71Talbot MundyTros of Samothrace1958NA
72Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’58: The Year’s Greatest19587/15/1958
73Robert A. HeinleinMethuselah’s Children19584/15/1958
74Tom GodwinThe Survivors19582/25/1958
75Wallace WestThe Bird of Time195910/25/1959
76Robert RandallThe Dawning Light19598/25/1959
77Talbot MundyThe Purple Pirate1959NA
78Judith Merril (ed)SF: ’59: The Year’s Greatest19596/30/1959
79Robert A. HeinleinUnpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag195912/25/1959
80Robert A. HeinleinThe Menace from Earth195911/25/1959
81Edward E. SmithThe Vortex Blaster19606/25/1960
82James A. SchmitzAgent of Vega19603/25/1960
83Frederick PohlDrunkard’s Walk1960NA
84John W. CampbellInvaders from the Infinite19613/15/1961
85Edward E. SmithGray Lensman1961NA
86Everett B. ColeThe Philosophical Corps19621210/1962

Even a casual glance at the registration dates in Table 1 creates vertigo. George O. Smith’s Pattern for Conquest, Robert A. Heinlein’s Sixth Column, and Nelson Bond’s The Thirty-first of February are traditionally given as Gnome’s third, fourth, and fifth volumes. All were issued in 1949, but the registration of Bond’s collection of short stories preceded the other two by several months. The same pattern appears in 1951, in which Journey to Infinity preceded Lewis Padgett’s The Fairy Chessmen and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by almost a year. The order is similarly mixed in each succeeding year as well.

Two possible explanations appear: either Greenberg held both back for months after registration or else the traditional order of publication is wildly off. (Greenberg could theoretically have released some books months before their registrations but that is implausible in the extreme, even granting the exception of The Philosophical Corps.)

With no internal records remaining, outside, independent sources of dating needed to be found to settle the issue. The Internet provides multitudes of databases that can be mined. I quickly found two that contained chronological information on virtually every Gnome publication.

One was obvious. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) is a trove, wide and deep, that every f&sf researcher should be intimately familiar with. Virtually every book, every magazine, every author, every story, every artist, every illustration, and every publisher is parsed in granular detail, allowing the curious to follow the path of publication from the earliest appearance to the most recent. As is true of any database, the ISFDB contains mistakes both of commission and omission, but those are remarkably rare and usually rectifiable by alternative research sources.

In addition to the details I’ve already listed, each book in the ISFDB contains a listing of reviews of that title from all major magazines in the field and many fanzines as well. (Non-genre reviews are normally not included.) It was a mere matter of diligence to view each Gnome listing and record the date of that first review. Every title except the two late Edward E. Smith novels had such a listing.

I originally assumed that the next step would be to check the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature for dates of non-genre reviews. To my surprise, the Reader’s Guide seems not to have indexed reviews, at least not in any of the volumes I checked. Kirkus Reviews, a magazine aimed at libraries, also fails as a reliable source, reviewing some of the titles but nowhere near a majority.

Periodical reviews are problematic in any case. The lag time for magazines, especially monthly magazines, pushes the dates of reviews off for months. Reviews produced a list of dates that correlated highly with registration order but provided little proof of the date of first appearance.

Instead I turned to a source I had stumbled upon in earlier research, one far from obvious and yet more useful and more precise. Back in the 1950s, newspapers in small cities and towns often included lists of books newly acquired by the local library. Acquisitions were normally made via advance catalogs and distributor lists so the book could be purchased, delivered, and ready to circulate immediately after the date of publication. Libraries often ordered handfuls of Gnome Books, some new and some old, at one time. The Argus-Leader reported on July 8, 1953 that the Sioux Falls library had acquired eight Gnome titles. Also in 1953, the Canal Fulton library in Ohio announced a massive haul of 23 science fiction books, nine of them from Gnome. Gnome was selling its backlist off at discount prices in 1960, probably why the Prospect Hills library in Illinois snapped up nine. No one small library would ever buy every Gnome release but the massive newspaper databases now searchable represented the entire country’s libraries. A diligent search through Newspapers.com and NewspaperArchive.com turned up instances for all Gnome titles.

The results are added to the registration dates in Table 2. In a few instances a newspaper review preceded any library announcement. Table 2 always represents the earliest date found, of whatever type. I’ve shortened some of the names and titles to fit in the extra columns.

Table 2: Eshbach’s Order with Database Dates

# Author Title Pub. Copyright Newspaper Review
1 de Camp/Pratt The Carnelian Cube 1948 11/1/1948 12/5/1948 2,3/1949
2 Frank Owen The Porcelain Magician 1948 2/20/1949 3/9/1949 Jul-49
3 George O. Smith The Thirty-first of February 1949 6/18/1949 1/2/1950 Mar-50
4 Robert A. Heinlein Pattern for Conquest  1949 11/16/1949 1/14/1950 Jan-50
5 Nelson Bond Sixth Column 1949 12/7/1949 7/3/1949 Aut/1949
6 Greenberg (ed) Men Against the Stars 1950 3/20/1950 4/2/1950 Jul-50
7 de Camp/Pratt The Castle of Iron 1950 7/1/1950 7/31/1950 Nov-50
8 William Gray Beyer Minions of the Moon 1950 7/15/1950 9/2/1950 Nov-50
9 Robert E. Howard Conan the Conqueror 1950 10/17/1950 11/30/1950 Jan-51
10 Isaac Asimov I, Robot 1950 12/20/1950 1/7/1951 Apr-51
11 Clifford D. Simak Cosmic Engineers 1950 11/25/1950 1/7/1951 Jan-51
12 Will Stewart Seetee Ship 1951 7/15/1951 7/15/1951 Nov-51
13 Lewis Padgett The Fairy Chessmen 1951 12/1/1951 12/16/1951 1/27/1952
14 Raymond F. Jones Renaissance 1951 4/15/1951 5/3/1951 Aug-51
15 L. Ron Hubbard Typewriter in the Sky 1951 5/15/1951 7/15/1951 Aug-51
16 Greenberg (ed) Travelers of Space 1951 1/3/1952 2/10/1952 May-52
17 Greenberg (ed) Journey to Infinity 1951 1/3/1951 1/27/1951 Apr-51
18 Isaac Asimov Foundation 1951 9/15/1951 10/14/1951 Feb-52
19 A. E. van Vogt The Mixed Men 1952 5/1/1952 5/30/1952 Sep-52
20 Lewis Padgett Robots Have No Tails 1952 5/15/1952 6/22/1952 Oct-52
21 Clifford D. Simak City 1952 5/15/1952 6/20/1952 Oct-52
22 C. L. Moore Judgment Night 1952 12/15/1952 12/28/1952 Apr-53
23 Robert E. Howard The Sword of Conan 1952 4/1/1952 4/27/1952 Nov-52
24 Greenberg (ed) Five Science Fiction Novels 1952 4/1/1952 5/15/1952 Aug-52
25 Arthur C. Clarke Sands of Mars 1952 4/15/1952 6/22/1952 Sep-52
26 Leigh Brackett The Starmen 1952 11/15/1952 11/2/1952 Jan-53
27 Isaac Asimov Foundation and Empire 1952 9/15/1952 9/21/1952 Mar-53
28 Wilmar H. Shiras Children of the Atom 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
29 Nat Schachner Space Lawyer 1953 11/1/1953 12/17/1953 Apr-54
30 Lewis Padgett Mutant 1953 10/20/1953 11/21/1953 Apr-54
31 C. L. Moore Shambleau and Others 1953 11/1/1953 1/6/1954 Oct-54
32 Jeffrey Logan (ed) Book of Outer Space 1953 10/20/1953 12/30/1953 May-54
33 Robert E. Howard The Coming of Conan 1953 10/25/1953 2/25/1954 Feb-54
34 Robert E. Howard King Conan 1953 3/2/1953 4/8/1954 Oct-53
35 Greenberg (ed) The Robot and the Man 1953 3/15/1953 5/31/1953 Aug-53
36 Hal Clement Iceworld 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
37 Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
38 Isaac Asimov Second Foundation 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
39 Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian 1954 11/1/1954 3/10/1955 Apr-55
40 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Quest 1954 11/25/1954 1/15/1955 Jul-55
41 William Morrison Mel Oliver 1954 7/15/1954 7/22/1954 Nov-54
42 C. L. Moore Northwest of Earth 1954 10/25/1954 11/18/1954 Aug-55
43 Murray Leinster The Forgotten Planet 1954 7/21/1954 8/27/1954 Nov-54
44 L. Sprague de Camp Lost Continents 1954 3/25/1954 6/6/1954 Sep-54
45 Arthur C. Clarke Prelude to Space 1954 3/10/1954 3/14/1954 Jul-54
46 Williamson/unn Star Bridge 1955 3/25/1955 6/2/1955 Oct-55
47 F. L. Wallace Address: Centauri 1955 4/25/1955 7/16/1955 Oct-55
48 Andrew North Sargasso of Space 1955 5/25/1955 8/11/1955 Sep-55
49 Robert E. Howard Tales of Conan 1955 12/5/1955 3/21/1956 May-56
50 James Gunn This Fortress World 1955 10/25/1955 12/27/1955 Feb-56
51 Greenberg (ed) All About the Future 1955 1/15/1955 2/27/1955 Feb-55
52 H. Chandler Elliott Reprieve from Paradise 1955 7/25/1955 9/20/1955 Dec-55
53 Groff Conklin (ed) SF Terror Tales 1955 2/15/1955 4/27/1955 Feb-55
54 George O. Smith Highways in Hiding 1956 7/15/1956 12/2/1956 Nov-56
55 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Fleet 1956 9/1/1956 12/13/1956 Jun-57
56 Andrew North Plague Ship 1956 2/5/1956 5/5/1956 May-56
57 Judith Merril (ed) SF: The Year’s Greatest 1956 NA 5/12/1956 Aug-56
58 Arthur K. Barnes Interplanetary Hunter 1956 3/15/1956 5/7/1956 Sep-56
59 Robert Randall The Shrouded Planet 1957 9/25/1957 2/2/1958 Jun-58
60 Bjorn Nyberg The Return of Conan 1957 8/25/1957 10/17/1957 Jun-58
61 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’57:  1957 7/9/1957 8/11/1957 Nov-57
62 Murray Leinster Colonial Survey 1957 4/15/1957 5/19/1957 Sep-57
63 Fritz Leiber Two Sought Adventure 1957 5/15/1957 8/25/1957 Oct-57
64 Greenberg (ed) Coming Attractions 1957 3/15/1957 7/1/1957 Apr-57
65 Clifton/Riley They’d Rather Be Right 1957 10/25/1957 1/23/1958 Apr-58
66 James Blish The Seedling Stars 1957 4/1/1957 4/12/1957 Apr-57
67 Anderson/Dickson Earthman’s Burden 1957 7/25/1957 9/19/1957 Jan-58
68 George O. Smith The Path of Unreason 1958 7/25/1959 5/7/1959 Nov-59
69 Robert Silverberg Starman’s Quest 1958 NA 1/24/1959 Sep-59
70 Pohl/Williamson Undersea City 1958 7/1/1958 8/3/1958 Oct-58
71 Talbot Mundy Tros of Samothrace 1958 NA 10/29/1958 Mar-59
72 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’58:  1958 7/15/1958 7/27/1958 Oct-58
73 Robert A. Heinlein Methuselah’s Children 1958 4/15/1958 5/12/1958 Oct-58
74 Tom Godwin The Survivors 1958 2/25/1958 5/12/1958 Jun-58
75 Wallace West The Bird of Time 1959 10/25/1959 3/18/1960 Aug-60
76 Robert Randall The Dawning Light 1959 8/25/1959 10/21/1959 Jan-60
77 Talbot Mundy The Purple Pirate 1959 NA 4/15/1959 Feb-60
78 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’59:  1959 6/30/1959 11/19/1959 Nov-59
79 Robert A. Heinlein Jonathan Hoag 1959 12/25/1959 1/191960 Jul-60
80 Robert A. Heinlein The Menace from Earth 1959 11/25/1959 12/17/1959 Jul-60
81 Edward E. Smith The Vortex Blaster 1960 6/25/1960 7/31/1960
82 James A. Schmitz Agent of Vega 1960 3/25/1960 5/26/1960 Aug-60
83 Frederick Pohl Drunkard’s Walk 1960 NA 11/28/1960 Mar-61
84 John W. Campbell Invaders from the Infinite 1961 3/15/1961 5/4/1961 Sep-61
85 Edward E. Smith Gray Lensman 1961 NA 11/30/1961
86 Everett B. Cole The Philosophical Corps 1962 1210/1962 6/15/1962 Apr-63

A pretty pattern emerges. The date of the first newspaper mention is nearly always within two months of the registration date. Travelers of Space is found properly in1952, a year after Journey to Infinity.  The date of issue of five of the six Gnome books without copyright registration dates are fixed by newspaper mentions. A few anomalies appear – most of the Conan books have a long lag before showing up in newspapers and the 13-month gap for King Conan is decidedly odd –but these hits are merely from the newspapers in particular databases. Many hundreds more newspapers have not yet been added and future research could yield earlier dates.

The date of the first magazine reviews also correlates extremely well with the copyright registration date, much more so than the standard publication order. Gnome sent out review copies but not advance reading copies, to my knowledge, although a couple of books have dates so early than an advance peek must be postulated. The lag time varies greatly, but nomajor anomalies need to be explained away with the possible exception of Science Fiction Terror Tales, edited by Groff Conklin. It is traditionally listed as the last Gnome title of 1955, but its registration date of 15Feb55 is earlier than six other 1955 Gnome releases, paralleled by earliest newspaper mentions than those same six titles.

The mystery is therefore how a review could appear in the February 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe. A double mystery: Robert Frazier also reviewed Conklin’s anthology alongside Martin Greenberg’s own All About the Future, with a registration date of 15Jan55. A magazine dated February normally hits newsstands in January, usually early in January. (The cover date is the date at which it should be removed from newsstands.) Its content must be locked down no less than a month or two earlier, even though editors often keep pages open to slot in review columns as late as possible to keep them relatively fresh. Nevertheless, a deadline date for Frazier that wasn’t in1954 is hard to swallow.

Setting a publication date one month later than the registration date is not unusual. Getting copies out to bookstores, libraries, and other outlets takes time; a publisher would want its goods to be available to all on that date.

A possible explanation is found in the fine print in the Frazier column. “Gnome Press, $3.50; Pocket Books, Inc., 25 cents.” The ISFDB entry reads, confusingly, “Pocket Book edition published March 1955/1st Printing January 1955.” Later editions include the 1st Printing January 1955statement. (The ISFDB also has the Gnome edition listed as January 1955, with no attribution.) The Catalog of Copyright Entries mentions Pocket Books but not Gnome Press. It must be that Pocket Books 1045 is therefore the true first edition of Science Fiction Terror Tales. This is substantiated by the newspaper evidence. Several newspapers reprinted press release for new Pocket Books on March 6, 1955. The first specific mention of Gnome does not appear until a short review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 27,1955. No mention of a library adding the anthology occurs until March 29, 1955, comfortably after the stated publication date. It is virtually inconceivable that a library would have added a paperback to its collection in 1955. Frazier, however, may have been working off an early printing of the Pocket Book paperback and included the Gnome edition based on an announcement of its forthcoming publication.

The existence of three independent sets of data all correlating with each other rather than the traditional publication order would in itself be sufficient to call for a revised dating. Table 3 rearranges the order to conform with the evidence.

Table 3: My Revised Order Based on Database Info

New Old Author Title Pub. Copyright Newspaper Review
1 1 de Camp/Pratt The Carnelian Cube 1948 11/1/1948 12/5/1948 2,3/1949
2 2 Frank Owen The Porcelain Magician 1948 2/20/1949 3/9/1949 Jul-49
3 5 Nelson Bond The Thirty-first of February 1949 6/18/1949 7/3/1949 Aut/1949
4 3 George O. Smith Pattern for Conquest 1949 11/16/1949 1/2/1950 Mar-50
5 4 Robert A. Heinlein Sixth Column 1949 12/7/1949 1/14/1950 Jan-50
6 6 Greenberg (ed) Men Against the Stars 1950 3/20/1950 4/2/1950 Jul-50
7 7 de Camp/Pratt The Castle of Iron 1950 7/1/1950 7/31/1950 Nov-50
8 8 William Gray Beyer Minions of the Moon 1950 7/15/1950 9/2/1950 Nov-50
9 9 Robert E. Howard Conan the Conqueror 1950 10/17/1950 11/30/1950 Jan-51
10 11 Clifford D. Simak Cosmic Engineers 1950 11/25/1950 1/7/1951 Jan-51
11 10 Isaac Asimov I, Robot 1950 12/20/1950 1/7/1951 Apr-51
12 17 Greenberg (ed) Journey to Infinity 1951 1/3/1951 1/27/1951 Apr-51
13 14 Raymond F. Jones Renaissance 1951 4/15/1951 5/3/1951 Aug-51
14 15 L. Ron Hubbard Typewriter in the Sky 1951 5/15/1951 7/15/1951 Aug-51
15 12 Will Stewart Seetee Ship 1951 7/15/1951 7/15/1951 Nov-51
16 18 Isaac Asimov Foundation 1951 9/15/1951 10/14/1951 Feb-52
17 13 Lewis Padgett The Fairy Chessmen 1951 12/1/1951 12/16/1951 1/27/1952
18 16 Greenberg (ed) Travelers of Space 1951 1/3/1952 2/10/1952 May-52
19 23 Robert E. Howard The Sword of Conan 1952 4/1/1952 4/27/1952 Nov-52
20 24 Greenberg (ed) Five Science Fiction Novels 1952 4/1/1952 5/15/1952 Aug-52
21 25 Arthur C. Clarke Sands of Mars 1952 4/15/1952 6/22/1952 Sep-52
22 19 A. E. van Vogt The Mixed Men 1952 5/1/1952 5/30/1952 Sep-52
23 20 Lewis Padgett Robots Have No Tails 1952 5/15/1952 6/20/1952 Oct-52
24 21 Clifford D. Simak City 1952 5/15/1952 6/22/1952 Oct-52
25 27 Isaac Asimov Foundation and Empire 1952 9/15/1952 9/21/1952 Mar-53
26 26 Leigh Brackett The Starmen 1952 11/15/1952 11/2/1952 Jan-53
27 22 C. L. Moore Judgment Night 1952 12/15/1952 12/28/1952 Apr-53
28 34 Robert E. Howard King Conan 1953 3/2/1953 4/8/1954 Oct-53
29 35 Greenberg (ed) The Robot and the Man 1953 3/15/1953 5/31/1953 Aug-53
30 36 Hal Clement Iceworld 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
31 37 Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
32 28 Wilmar H. Shiras Children of the Atom 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
33 38 Isaac Asimov Second Foundation 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
34 30 Lewis Padgett Mutant 1953 10/20/1953 11/21/1953 Apr-54
35 32 Jeffrey Logan (ed) Book of Outer Space 1953 10/20/1953 12/30/1953 May-54
36 33 Robert E. Howard The Coming of Conan 1953 10/25/1953 2/25/1954 Feb-54
37 29 Nat Schachner Space Lawyer 1953 11/1/1953 12/17/1953 Apr-54
38 31 C. L. Moore Shambleau and Others 1953 11/1/1953 1/6/1954 Oct-54
39 45 Arthur C. Clarke Prelude to Space 1954 3/10/1954 3/14/1954 Jul-54
40 44 L. Sprague de Camp Lost Continents 1954 3/25/1954 6/6/1954 Sep-54
41 41 William Morrison Mel Oliver 1954 7/15/1954 7/22/1954 Nov-54
42 43 Murray Leinster The Forgotten Planet 1954 7/21/1954 8/27/1954 Nov-54
43 42 C. L. Moore Northwest of Earth 1954 10/25/1954 11/18/1954 Aug-55
44 39 Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian 1954 11/1/1954 3/10/1955 Apr-55
45 40 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Quest 1954 11/25/1954 1/15/1955 Jul-55
46 51 Greenberg (ed) All About the Future 1955 1/15/1955 2/27/1955 Feb-55
47 53 Groff Conklin (ed) SF Terror Tales 1955 2/15/1955 4/27/1955 Feb-55
48 46 Williamson/Gunn Star Bridge 1955 3/25/1955 6/2/1955 Oct-55
49 47 F. L. Wallace Address: Centauri 1955 4/25/1955 7/16/1955 Oct-55
50 48 Andrew North Sargasso of Space 1955 5/25/1955 8/11/1955 Sep-55
51 52 H. Chandler Elliott Reprieve from Paradise 1955 7/25/1955 9/20/1955 Dec-55
52 50 James Gunn This Fortress World 1955 10/25/1955 12/27/1955 Feb-56
53 49 Robert Howard Tales of Conan 1955 12/5/1955 3/21/1956 May-56
54 56 Andrew North Plague Ship 1956 2/5/1956 5/5/1956 May-56
55 58 Arthur K. Barnes Interplanetary Hunter 1956 3/15/1956 5/7/1956 Sep-56
56 57 Judith Merril (ed) SF: The Year’s Greatest  1956 NA 5/12/1956 Aug-56
57 54 George O. Smith Highways in Hiding 1956 7/15/1956 12/2/1956 Nov-56
58 55 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Fleet 1956 9/1/1956 12/13/1956 Jun-57
59 64 Greenberg (ed) Coming Attractions 1957 3/15/1957 7/1/1957 Apr-57
60 66 James Blish The Seedling Stars 1957 4/1/1957 4/12/1957 Apr-57
61 62 Murray Leinster Colonial Survey 1957 4/15/1957 5/19/1957 Sep-57
62 63 Fritz Leiber Two Sought Adventure 1957 5/15/1957 8/25/1957 Oct-57
63 61 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’57: 1957 7/9/1957 8/11/1957 Nov-57
64 67 Anderson/Dickson Earthman’s Burden 1957 7/25/1957 9/19/1957 Jan-58
65 60 Bjorn Nyberg The Return of Conan 1957 8/25/1957 10/17/1957 Jun-58
66 59 Robert Randall The Shrouded Planet 1957 9/25/1957 2/2/1958 Jun-58
67 65 Clifton/Riley They’d Rather Be Right 1957 10/25/1957 1/23/1958 Apr-58
68 74 Tom Godwin The Survivors 1958 2/25/1958 5/12/1958 Jun-58
69 73 Robert A. Heinlein Methuselah’s Children 1958 4/15/1958 5/12/1958 Oct-58
70 70 Pohl/Williamson Undersea City 1958 7/1/1958 8/3/1958 Oct-58
71 72 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’58:  1958 7/15/1958 7/27/1958 Oct-58
72 71 Talbot Mundy Tros of Samothrace 1958 NA 10/29/1958 Mar-59
73 69 Robert Silverberg Starman’s Quest 1958 NA 1/24/1959 Sep-59
74 77 Talbot Mundy Purple Pirate 1959 NA 4/15/1959 Feb-60
75 68 George O. Smith The Path of Unreason 1958 7/25/1959 5/7/1959 Nov-59
76 78 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’59: 1959 6/30/1959 11/19/1959 Nov-59
77 76 Robert Randall The Dawning Light 1959 8/25/1959 10/21/1959 Jan-60
78 75 Wallace West The Bird of Time 1959 10/25/1959 3/18/1960 Aug-60
79 80 Robert A. Heinlein The Menace from Earth  1959 11/25/1959 12/17/1959 Jul-60
80 79 Robert A. Heinlein Jonathan Hoag 1959 12/25/1959 1/19/1960 Jul-60
81 82 James A. Schmitz Agent of Vega 1960 3/25/1960 5/26/1960 Aug-60
82 81 Edward E. Smith The Vortex Blaster 1960 6/25/1960 7/31/1960
83 83 Frederick Pohl Drunkard’s Walk 1960 NA 11/28/1960 Mar-61
84 84 John W. Campbell Invaders from the Infinite 1961 3/15/1961 5/4/1961 Sep-61
85 85 Edward E. Smith Gray Lensman 1961 NA 11/30/1961 NA
86 86 Everett B. Cole The Philosophical Corps 1962 12/10/1962 6/15/1962 Apr-63

A half dozen instances of two books sharing a registration date occur. I let the first newspaper mention be the tiebreaker and when that failed deferred to the standard order.

One flaw still appears, because of lack of proper data. In late 1958 or early 1959, Gnome issued several books that do not have copyright dates, Tros of Samothrace, Starman’s Quest, and Purple Pirate, as well as one whose copyright date is confounding, The Path of Unreason. ESHBACH has Path as the first book released in 1958, which seems impossible. Its registration is 25Jul1959 but in notice 1958. The earliest Ican trace the title is April 2, 1959, which is the date a fanzine review said the book was mailed. Starman’s first mention is considerably earlier. The Library of Congress (LoC) issued catalog card numbers for Path, Starman’s and Tros are in a block with 58 prefixes, (Purple does not have one at all), but LoC dates showing a year previous to the copyright registration dates had already happened three times, not an impediment to a1959 issue.

Sliding Path down between those other two titles seems like a good solution, but that would put its copyright registration date ahead of SF: ’59, making it the only one to be out of order. Merril’s anthology already has some mysteries of its own. The Dell edition states a first printing of June 1959, making a June 30 copyright date reasonable, but the title appears in a press release from Dell printed in the Boston Globe on June 14, 1959. Figuring out the date of the Gnome printing is next to impossible. All early newspaper mentions in 1959 are to the Dell paperback, until a library listing on October 22, which doesn’t mention the source but paperbacks were always frowned upon in 1950s libraries. Therefore, putting Path before SF: ’59 is a reasonable anomaly.

Table 4: My Order with Anomalies Corrected

New Old Author Title Pub. Copyright Newspaper Review
1 1 de Camp/Pratt The Carnelian Cube 1948 11/1/1948 12/5/1948 2,3/1949
2 2 Frank Owen The Porcelain Magician 1948 2/20/1949 3/9/1949 Jul-49
3 5 Nelson Bond The Thirty-first of February 1949 6/18/1949 7/3/1949 Aut/1949
4 3 George O. Smith Pattern for Conquest 1949 11/16/1949 1/2/1950 Mar-50
5 4 Robert A. Heinlein Sixth Column 1949 12/7/1949 1/30/1950 Jan-50
6 6 Greenberg (ed) Men Against the Stars 1950 3/20/1950 4/2/1950 Jul-50
7 7 de Camp/Pratt Castle of Iron, The 1950 7/1/1950 7/31/1950 Nov-50
8 8 William Gray Beyer Minions of the Moon 1950 7/15/1950 9/2/1950 Nov-50
9 9 Robert E. Howard Conan the Conqueror 1950 10/17/1950 11/30/1950 Jan-51
10 11 Clifford D. Simak Cosmic Engineers 1950 11/25/1950 1/7/1951 Jan-51
11 10 Isaac Asimov I, Robot 1950 12/20/1950 1/7/1951 Apr-51
12 17 Greenberg (ed) Journey to Infinity 1951 1/3/1951 1/27/1951 Apr-51
13 14 Raymond F. Jones Renaissance 1951 4/15/1951 5/3/1951 Aug-51
14 15 L. Ron Hubbard Typewriter in the Sky 1951 5/15/1951 7/15/1951 Aug-51
15 12 Will Stewart Seetee Ship 1951 7/15/1951 7/15/1951 Nov-51
16 18 Isaac Asimov Foundation 1951 9/15/1951 10/14/1951 Feb-52
17 13 Lewis Padgett The Fairy Chessmen 1951 12/1/1951 12/16/1951 1/27/1952
18 16 Greenberg (ed) Travelers of Space 1951 1/3/1952 2/10/1952 May-52
19 23 Robert E. Howard The Sword of Conan 1952 4/1/1952 4/27/1952 Nov-52
20 24 Greenberg (ed) Five Science Fiction Novels 1952 4/1/1952 5/15/1952 Aug-52
21 25 Arthur C. Clarke Sands of Mars 1952 4/15/1952 6/22/1952 Sep-52
22 19 A. E. van Vogt The Mixed Men 1952 5/1/1952 5/30/1952 Sep-52
23 20 Lewis Padgett Robots Have No Tails 1952 5/15/1952 6/20/1952 Oct-52
24 21 Clifford D. Simak City 1952 5/15/1952 6/22/1952 Oct-52
25 27 Isaac Asimov Foundation and Empire 1952 9/15/1952 9/21/1952 Mar-53
26 26 Leigh Brackett The Starmen 1952 11/15/1952 11/2/1952 Jan-53
27 22 C. L. Moore Judgment Night 1952 12/15/1952 12/28/1952 Apr-53
28 34 Robert E. Howard King Conan 1953 3/2/1953 4/8/1954 Oct-53
29 35 Greenberg (ed) The Robot and the Man 1953 3/15/1953 5/31/1953 Aug-53
30 36 Hal Clement Iceworld 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
31 37 Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night 1953 4/15/1953 7/8/1953 Aug-53
32 28 Wilmar H. Shiras Children of the Atom 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
33 38 Isaac Asimov Second Foundation 1953 5/15/1953 6/23/1953 Sep-53
34 30 Lewis Padgett Mutant 1953 10/20/1953 11/21/1953 Apr-54
35 32 Jeffrey Logan (ed) Book of Outer Space 1953 10/20/1953 12/30/1953 May-54
36 33 Robert E. Howard The Coming of Conan 1953 10/25/1953 2/25/1954 Feb-54
37 29 Nat Schachner Space Lawyer 1953 11/1/1953 12/17/1953 Apr-54
38 31 C. L. Moore Shambleau and Others 1953 11/1/1953 1/6/1954 Oct-54
39 45 Arthur C. Clarke Prelude to Space 1954 3/10/1954 3/14/1954 Jul-54
40 44 L. Sprague de Camp Lost Continents 1954 3/25/1954 6/6/1954 Sep-54
41 41 William Morrison Mel Oliver 1954 7/15/1954 7/22/1954 Nov-54
42 43 Murray Leinster The Forgotten Planet 1954 7/21/1954 8/27/1954 Nov-54
43 42 C. L. Moore Northwest of Earth 1954 10/25/1954 11/18/1954 Aug-55
44 39 Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian 1954 11/1/1954 3/10/1955 Apr-55
45 40 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Quest 1954 11/25/1954 1/15/1955 Jul-55
46 51 Greenberg (ed) All About the Future 1955 1/15/1955 2/27/1955 Feb-55
47 53 Groff Conklin (ed) SF Terror Tales 1955 2/15/1955 4/27/1955 Feb-55
48 46 Williamson/Gunn Star Bridge 1955 3/25/1955 6/2/1955 Oct-55
49 47 F. L. Wallace Address: Centauri 1955 4/25/1955 7/16/1955 Oct-55
50 48 Andrew North Sargasso of Space 1955 5/25/1955 8/11/1955 Sep-55
51 52 H. Chandler Elliott Reprieve from Paradise 1955 7/25/1955 9/20/1955 Dec-55
52 50 James Gunn This Fortress World 1955 10/25/1955 12/27/1955 Feb-56
53 49 Robert Howard Tales of Conan 1955 12/5/1955 3/21/1956 May-56
54 56 Andrew North Plague Ship 1956 2/5/1956 5/5/1956 May-56
55 58 Arthur K. Barnes Interplanetary Hunter 1956 3/15/1956 5/7/1956 Sep-56
56 57 Judith Merril (ed) SF: The Year’s Greatest  1956 NA 5/12/1956 Aug-56
57 54 George O. Smith Highways in Hiding 1956 7/15/1956 12/2/1956 Nov-56
58 55 Pohl/Williamson Undersea Fleet 1956 9/1/1956 12/13/1956 Jun-57
59 64 Greenberg (ed) Coming Attractions 1957 3/15/1957 7/1/1957 Apr-57
60 66 James Blish The Seedling Stars 1957 4/1/1957 4/12/1957 Apr-57
61 62 Murray Leinster Colonial Survey 1957 4/15/1957 5/19/1957 Sep-57
62 63 Fritz Leiber Two Sought Adventure 1957 5/15/1957 8/25/1957 Oct-57
63 61 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’57:  1957 7/9/1957 8/11/1957 Nov-57
64 67 Anderson/Dickson Earthman’s Burden 1957 7/25/1957 9/19/1957 Jan-58
65 60 Bjorn Nyberg The Return of Conan 1957 8/25/1957 10/17/1957 Jun-58
66 59 Robert Randall The Shrouded Planet 1957 9/25/1957 2/2/1958 Jun-58
67 65 Clifton/Riley They’d Rather Be Right 1957 10/25/1957 1/23/1958 Apr-58
68 74 Tom Godwin The Survivors 1958 2/25/1958 5/12/1958 Jun-58
69 73 Robert A. Heinlein Methuselah’s Children 1958 4/15/1958 5/12/1958 Oct-58
70 70 Pohl/Williamson Undersea City 1958 7/1/1958 8/3/1958 Oct-58
71 72 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’58:  1958 7/15/1958 7/27/1958 Oct-58
72 71 Talbot Mundy Tros of Samothrace 1958 NA 10/29/1958 Mar-59
73 69 Robert Silverberg Starman’s Quest 1958 NA 1/24/1959 Sep-59
74 68 George O. Smith The Path of Unreason 1958 7/25/1959 5/7/1959 Nov-59
75 77 Talbot Mundy Purple Pirate 1959 NA 4/15/1959 Feb-60
76 78 Judith Merril (ed) SF: ’59:  1959 6/30/1959 11/19/1959 Nov-59
77 76 Robert Randall The Dawning Light 1959 8/25/1959 10/21/1959 Jan-60
78 75 Wallace West The Bird of Time 1959 10/25/1959 3/18/1960 Aug-60
79 80 Robert A. Heinlein The Menace from Earth  1959 11/25/1959 12/17/1959 Jul-60
80 79 Robert A. Heinlein Jonathan Hoag 1959 12/25/1959 1/19/1960 Jul-60
81 82 James A. Schmitz Agent of Vega 1960 3/25/1960 5/26/1960 Aug-60
82 81 Edward E. Smith The Vortex Blaster 1960 6/25/1960 7/31/1960 NA
83 83 Frederick Pohl Drunkard’s Walk 1960 NA 11/28/1960 Mar-61
84 84 John W. Campbell Invaders from the Infinite 1961 3/15/1961 5/4/1961 Sep-61
85 85 Edward E. Smith Gray Lensman 1961 NA 11/30/1961 NA
86 86 Everett B. Cole The Philosophical Corps 1962 12/10/1962 6/15/1962 Apr-63

Providentially, a fourth source of critical data also exists that also contradicts ESHBACH. I referred to it earlier, in passing. All but three Gnome titles have a list of books available for purchase on the back panel. Presumably, these lists would reflect the most recent books published, or at least a set of recent or about to be released titles if the same list is found on more than one book. No suspense here. The correlation is again to the registration dates. Moreover, those panels provide an unexpected trove of information about Gnome and its plans and processes. They require a chapter all to themselves. It’s called The Back Panels, which will be posted soon.