Picked this up at the Hartville Flea Market a few weeks ago, and bought it pretty much on the cover image alone:
FANTASTIC. Definitely-not-Luke-Skywalker-in-Bespin-outfit and certainly-not-Princess-Leia and possibly-not-C-3PO beneath absolutely-not-a-Colonial-Viper-Cylon-Raider-dogfight.
Screams “shameless unlicensed late 1970s ripoff,” no?
But there’s the kicker: This is from nineteen eighty-four, and its contents mirror a British edition published just a year earlier. So this book is, in fact, five years past the close of the original Battlestar Galactica series, and a year removed from the conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy.
What’s inside? Let’s ask the back cover blurb:
Seventeen stories from the exciting world of science fiction, including Star Wars and Doctor Who and tales by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.
Excellent! Without further delay, then, here are the contents:
- Escape From the Death Star – from Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, by George Lucas
- Trial by Combat, by Jay Williams
- The Lights of the City by Garry Kilworth
- Through the Moons of Mowl – from Dragonfall 5 and the Super Horse, by Brian Earnshaw
- The Star, by H.G. Wells
- Johnson, by Guy Weiner (I did not make this up. – JB)
- The Smallest Dragonboy, by Anne McCaffrey
- The First Half-hour – from Round the Moon, by Jules Verne
- A Walk in the Woods, by David Campton
- Summertime on Icarus, by Arthur C. Clarke
- Baptism of Fire – from Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert A. Heinlein
- Collecting Team, by Robert Silverberg
- Marooned on Splatterbang – from Escape from Splatterbang, by Nicholas Fisk
- Terrafied, by Arthur Tofte
- Planet-fall on Isis – from The Keeper of the Isis Light, by Monica Hughes
- Half Life, by Rachel Cosgrove Payes
- Return to Peladon – from Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon, by Terrance Dicks
Interesting mix, and I look forward to reading them.
(Digression: The text of Escape from the Death Star seems to be reprinted faithfully from chapter 10 and part of chapter 11 of the Star Wars novelization, although it does open with an original two-sentence setup: Luke Skywalker, the old Jedi warrior Ben Kenobi, Han Solo and their companions are deep in the heart of the enemy battle station, the Death Star. Danger threatens on all sides as they struggle to free the young and beautiful Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil dark warlord, Darth Vader…)
Here’s what else the back cover promises, though:
This spectacular collection is illustrated throughout with specially commissioned drawings.
And, oh, the treasures here. All the drawings are black-and-white and in the margins either alongside or beneath the text, and feel like they belong in a much earlier science fiction era.
Now, to be fair, I’m really only focused on the illustrations accompanying the Star Wars excerpt, because again, this was a full seven years after the movie’s debut, and we all knew full well what things looked like in that galaxy far, far away. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that at this point, some characters and ships were already considered iconic.
Here’s this edition’s illustration of R2-D2 and C-3PO:
…and here are Han and Chewbacca:
More? OK. Our heroes heading for the Millennium Falcon:
…and blasting their way past the TIE fighters:
And maybe my favorite: Darth Vader vs. Ben Kenobi.
Several of these are highly reminiscent of pre-production Star Wars art, which is also interesting.
As a bonus, here’s an illustration from the Doctor Who excerpt, including the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.
The artwork and the typeface and the page layouts all combine to remind me an awful lot of the kid-focused science fiction books I loved when I was in elementary school.
It’s been a long time since I stumbled on anything this unexpected and fun at the flea market – and for less than a handful of change.
In terms of quantity, I had kind of a lousy year in 2013: I only finished 11 books, and five of those (marked with asterisks below) were re-reads.
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
- Star Wars: Scoundrels – Timothy Zahn
- Await Your Reply – Dan Chaon
- Han Solo at Stars’ End – Brian Daley*
- Han Solo’s Revenge – Brian Daley*
- Codex Born – Jim C. Hines
- Beyond the Blue Event Horizon – Frederick Pohl
- The Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi*
- The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
- Maus I: My Father Bleeds History – Art Spiegelman*
- Anathem – Neal Stephenson*
On the other hand: Quality. I really enjoyed all of them, and my six first-time reads were a nice mix of popcorn fun, mind-bending, gut-punching, and thought-provoking.
This begins with an overdue thanks to the guys behind JediCon WV, who earlier this month published a really moving and heartfelt Tumblr post about Collect All 21! and my presentation at their 2010 convention.
John writes he was six when he was first swayed by the Force. I was more like 11. But so many of his recollections are similar to my experiences. Here he was, five years my junior living in Ohio while I grew up in Virginia, older – not wiser – and it’s like we lived next door to each other.
So I want to thank you, John, for bringing out the Star Wars kid in me once again. Each re-reading brings back memories of the best childhood anyone could’ve asked for. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really left it behind.
I mean dang. Thank YOU. It feels like I’ve said this a million times, but god, that kind of reaction, and hearing that someone read what I wrote and enjoyed re-discovering long-lost secret joys? That’s one of my favorite things in the world, and it’s a huge reason I wrote Collect All 21! in the first place.
So, that’s the first part of the post as referenced in the title.
Naturally, the second part is this: You know what makes a good Christmas present? Unbridled Star Wars,-1970s-and-’80s nostalgia, conveniently packaged in classic paperback format, or in an expanded electronic book edition.
There’s an excerpt, and some nice things that nifty people have said about the book, and things like podcasts and interviews, and some non-Amazon Collect All 21! links here.
Deep and sincere thanks again to everyone who’s supported this book for the past five-plus years and encouraged me to keep sharing my Star Wars memories.
I finally had a chance to read Jim C. Hines’ second “Magic ex Libris” book, Codex Born, and I wrote a review for GeekDad.
I’ve been a fan of Jim’s since meeting him at Penguicon in 2009, and have had fun interviewing him about his Princess series and the origins of Magic ex Libris, and was really excited when he won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
So, I have to admit, when Codex Born arrived in the mail, and I saw the cover, I thought, <understatement>”Hm. This is kind of cool.”</understatement>:
That front cover quote is from my GeekDad review of Libriomancer. (And it still holds true, by the way: Hines has got some big, amazing ideas unfolding in this series, and the premise is just a ton of fun.) I don’t know who handles this sort of thing at DAW Books, but I heartily approve of their taste in blurbage.
Now, seriously: If you’re a science fiction/fantasy book geek, and you’re not reading “Magic ex Libris,” you’re missing out.
The first batch of pre-orders and sales that summer and fall of 2008 were mostly to family, friends, and the supportive Star Wars fans of the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club and the vintage forums at Rebelscum.com. They really jump-started this whole thing with their responses to my 2007 online series of Star Wars recollections.
In early 2009, right around the time my last full-time newsroom job was eliminated and I found myself out of work, Rob Wainfur posted one of the earliest completely-neutral-party reviews of Collect All 21! on his Retro Finds site, which was a more-than-welcome bit of nice news, and especially neat because Rob’s from Wales.
Around the same time, Adam, my Collect All 21! editor, launched Deus Ex Comica, and suddenly I was like, “Hey: I want a cool, professional cover and a foreword, too!” And that’s where Kirk Demarais and David Morgan-Mar came in, generously contributing their talents to the revised version of Collect All 21!, providing me with some amazing front cover art and a kick-ass introduction.
Working with a great digital publishing team, I expanded the book for a Kindle edition in July 2011, adding some new personal material as well as interviews and my magazine-length feature on Lorne Peterson.
Some of the other neat stuff that’s happened along the way:
- In spring 2009, I got an incredibly kind and supportive email from George Krstic, another Northeast Ohio first-generation Star Wars fan who grew up to write neat stuff like MTV’s Downtown, Megas XLR, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Motorcity. We’ve hung out a few times since, and recorded a few Star Wars nostalgia podcasts, and it’s always a blast. (George also introduced me to Josh Ling, who’s also a first-generation Rust Belt kid that came of age addicted to Kenner toys, and, I think it’s also fair to say, deals with the same old-school v. new-era Star Wars internal conflicts that twist so many of us in geek knots.)
- Jenny Williams and Curtis Silver both said really nice things about Collect All 21! on the GeekMom and GeekDad blogs, respectively.
- At PAX East in 2010, thanks to the GeekDad crew, I met Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks author Ethan Gilsdorf, who bought a copy of the book on the spot while we were all hanging out, and later provided me with a superlative blurb.
- CNN interviewed me for a 30th anniversary story about The Empire Strikes Back.
- Sharing Star Wars memories became kind of a thing: My friend Jonathan Liu sent me an advance copy of Tony Pacitti‘s My Best Friend is a Wookiee (2010), and I wound up meeting Tony at Star Wars Celebration V to exchange books and stories. A couple years later, in 2012, Gib van Ert released A Long Time Ago: Growing Up With And Out Of Star Wars, which I read and enjoyed on the way to Star Wars Celebration VI. And, of course, earlier this year, Fanboys director Kyle Newman (who also encouraged me regarding Collect All 21! in 2010) put together The Return of Return of the Jedi.
- Geek A Week artist Len Peralta and I recorded a Star Wars and 1980s conversation/podcast.
- I got invited as a guest to a couple JediCon WV events, which were tons of fun, and got my name on a spectacular poster by Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons.
- Hugo Award-winning author and good guy Jim C. Hines read Collect All 21! and blogged about it.
- Then there was that time in 2012 when the fantastic Renita Jablonski called me and said, “So, we were thinking of doing a piece on the 35th anniversary of Star Wars, and I said ‘I know a guy,'” and we talked on the phone, and then BOOM! I’m driving to work a day or two later, and right there in the middle of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” is me. (And five years before that, when Renita was at WKSU, she produced a piece I wrote about not remembering the first time I saw Star Wars, which, again, is pretty much where all this started.)
- Topless Robot put Collect All 21! on its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, which includes the line, “Celebrate the love, yub yub.” Yes!
- Somehow my book caught the attention of filmmaker Brian Stillman, who visited our house a couple summers back and interviewed me for Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys, which should be coming out later this summer.
Crunching some numbers from Lulu and Amazon to figure out about how many copies of Collect All 21! are out there – counting print and electronic versions – I come up with a number somewhere close to 2,500. (I’m always looking to make that number bigger, of course, but hey – that’s not a bad run for a completely independent, word-of-mouth effort.)
I will never be able to say thanks enough for all the encouragement and support from my friends and family and everyone who’s ever bought, borrowed, read, or shared Collect All 21! among fellow Star Wars fans and 1980s-era nostalgia loons (which I can say since I’m one of them).
The Force Will Be With You. Always.
Fringe fans: Take a look at some of the amazing work in this book. And hey, while you’re there, why not enter the giveaway and maybe get a free copy for yourself?
Picked this up from the used book sale shelves at the North Canton Public Library:
Copyright 1957. Reminds me very much of the sort of books I’d occasionally receive from my dad or uncles, passed down from when they were kids, or that I’d check out from the Carnegie Public Library in Upper Sandusky when we’d visit my grandparents.
I really have a thing for science fact and science fiction artwork from the ’50s and ’60s, and this also reminded me how much I loved reading this kind of educational series book. (I had a bunch of much slimmer books that were newer and aimed at younger readers, but for the life of me, I can’t manage to cobble together an accurate enough web search to find photos of them. They had red borders and usually single-word titles like “Fire” and “Dinosaurs.”)
Here’s the “Real Book” cover art beneath the Prehistoric Life jacket:
And here’s the endpaper art, which gets bonus points for including three creatures and one plant which I’ve dug up in fossil form right here in Ohio:
And kudos to author Dorothy Shuttlesworth and illustrator Matthew Kalmenoff, who seem like they had awfully cool jobs combining art, science, and education.
Super retro bonus find: Tucked within the pages of the book, one totally authentic souvenir reproduction of the Gettysburg Address.
It’s a small, blurry photo because it wouldn’t fit on the scanner, and I didn’t want to mash it, but you can see a better example on the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency website.
I’ll admit when I first found it, I thought, “Cool! Old letter!” only to be disappointed a second later, when I saw that the text was the Gettysburg Address. (I really would have loved to find an old, everyday personal note. That kind of thing really sets my mind running.) But then this thing sparked some personal nostalgia from the time we took a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg when I was a kid, and my parents bought me a souvenir set of reproductions that included similarly-antiqued editions of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Verdict: Two bucks well spent, especially since it goes to the library.
I only read through 25 books in 2012, compared with 36 in 2011. (And down further from the 38 in 2010, and barely half my 2009 number: 46.) Those books (linked to my GeekDad reviews where applicable) were:
- American Gods: Tenth Anniversary Edition – Neil Gaiman
- Ganymede – Cherie Priest
- The Martian Way and Other Stories – Isaac Asimov
- Redshirts – John Scalzi (GeekDad interview here)
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
- Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
- Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
- Girl Genius Omnibus Vol 1: Agatha Awakens – Phil and Kaja Foglio
- Pilgrim of the Sky – Natania Barron
- The Broken Universe – Paul Melko
- Libriomancer – Jim C. Hines (GeekDad interview here)
- Armored (anthology) – edited by John Joseph Adams
- Calico Joe – John Grisham
- The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison (I hadn’t read any of these books before, and I loved them.)
- The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge – Harry Harrison
- A Long Time Ago – Gib Van Ert
- The Princess Bride: A Celebration
- Revolt on Alpha C – Robert Silverberg
- Gateway – Frederick Pohl (I tried to read this in elementary school and hated it. Fred at Backlist Books had a copy, so I picked it up to try again – and blasted through it in a day.)
- The Science Fiction Universe and Beyond
- The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World – Harry Harrison
- Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made – Alan Eisenstock
- Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby
- The Whore of Akron – Scott Raab
- The Inexplicables – Cherie Priest
The list does include fewer re-reads than the previous few years, the exceptions being American Gods, the Hunger Games trilogy (read as a psyche-up for the movie), and Revolt on Alpha C, a childhood favorite.
I did specify at the beginning that those are the books I “read through,” because I spent a lot of time in the pages of larger reference-style books, even if I don’t count them as cover-to-cover reads (links, again, to GeekDad reviews):
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection
- Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion
- Dungeons & Dragons: Into the Unknown
- Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Shadow
- Pathfinder: Core Rulebook
- Advanced D&D: Dungeon Master’s Guide (1979 edition)
- Dungeons & Dragons: Player’s Handbook v 3.5
I also have a monthly Kindle subscription to Lightspeed magazine, which I don’t consume beginning to end every month, but which adds another bunch of short stories and interviews to my count.
I’ll also note that this was my first year owning the Kindle, which led to something that hasn’t happened much to me in the past: Unfinished books. Being able to grab books on the cheap (or for free) made it incredibly easy to load up, and there are several books on the device (or in my Amazon cloud) which I either haven’t started yet or which remain only partially read. Part of it is because I tend to read those when I’m not at home, which is part of the point of the Kindle, after all.
Maybe I’ll put those – plus the ones on the shelf on my new bookcase which I’ve reserved for unread books – at the top of this year’s list.
Once I’ve finished the book I’m reading now, of course.
A few months after re-introducing me to Dungeons & Dragons, my friend Paul suggested we visit Backlist Books in Massillon for an afternoon of gaming in the then-newly-relaunched Gamma World. It was the first time I had sat down with a group of strangers (except for Paul, of course) for a role-playing session.
We had enough fun that Fred, owner of Backlist, started a Sunday afternoon Gamma World campaign in a setting of his own creation. It lasted several months, and when we’d completed that quest, Fred asked if I’d be interested in joining one of his Wednesday night D&D Encounters groups. I started in September 2011, and over most of the next year, I played through three adventures with two different groups, and I was learning Pathfinder in the fall when Fred broke the news that the store would be closing at the end of 2012.
Besides gaming, there was always plenty of conversation about books and movies and TV and video games and (for us older folks) 1980s pop culture and alternative music. Fred and I also talked running in the months leading up to the Canton Marathon.
Since becoming a Backlist regular, I made a real effort to order new books through the store and reserve Amazon for buying other things.
Kelsey and I drove over on Monday, Dec. 31, to complete one final purchase:
That’s a Handmade By Fred eight-foot bookcase, now in its new home here in my office. (I did have to fire up the circular saw and lop off about 5 inches from the top, since the room’s ceiling height is only 93 inches.) It’s even constructed with an angled base, so it’s nice and stable. I also really dig having a bookcase with a top shelf that – for me, anyway – requires the use of a small stepstool.
There’s a lot of space on those shelves occupied by bits of former Backlist inventory – books from several editions of D&D; science fiction new (Ready Player One; The Inexplicables) and old (Gateway; At the Mountains of Madness); TSR “Endless Quests” books to replace the ones I bought in middle school and lost long ago; John Green, and Jim C. Hines, and a pulpy-covered paperback collection of vintage Star Wars comics.
All in all, a fine reminder of a few years of really good times.
All sold – thanks, readers!
Dec. 7 update: Three of the four copies have been sold! The remaining unused Hasbro cardback is the General Grievous version.
I’ve got one
four paperback copy copies of Collect All 21! leftover from the Akron Comicon, so I thought I’d package a few extras with them for the holidays. Details below the photo.
- One unused cardback from Hasbro’s current vintage-style line. The fronts are done in the style of the old Kenner packaging – which is very cool – and the backs have a little bit of Kenner figure history on them. These have never had actual action figures attached. (Note: Three of these are Boba Fetts, and one is General Grievous.)
- TWO vintage Topps cards from the “Giant Full Color Photocards” set. Yes: These are the actual cards from 1980. (Genuine Nostalgia!) No, there is no giant stale gum.
- A digital version (not pictured – of course) of the extra chapter’s worth of material which was added to the Expanded Edition of Collect All 21! This will be delivered by email and can be sent as a Word document, PDF or in ebook form. It’s only the new interviews and added content – not a digital edition of the entire book.
And I’ll knock 10% off the cover price, so you’ll get the book plus those extras for $13.50 + shipping.
If you’re interested, leave a comment or send me an email at booth (at) fieldsedge.com