Signed First Editions of Science Fiction
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This week I picked up two volumes in EP's Signed First Editions of Science Fiction:
* Endangered Species by Gene Wolfe (1989)
* A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K LeGuin (1994)
Species came with a loose notes card whereas Fisherman did not. Does anyone know when EP stopped the loose notes card for this series? Or is the card just missing from the Fisherman that I picked up?
From a collector's/completionist perspective, whether it is a note or coa, it is important. From a reader's perspective, I have found notes especially from the Masterpieces of Science Fiction, to have a significant overlap - oftentimes verbatim (plagarism?) - with prefaces to the books. Notes were likely written by somebody in-house who might have lazily borrowed from the already available material...
Bishop, K. E. (2018). James Gunn. Paratexts: Introductions to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 29(1), 86-89. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A571515668/AONE?u=anon~ae8224b1&sid=googleSch...
So was Gunn plagiarizing himself? I’ve seen that done before.
"Although there are gems in every section, the most wholly satisfying is the third, "Masterpieces of Fantasy," which includes expanded collector's notes for the 1990s Easton Press series."
I do see confirmation of his involvement in preparing the introductions and notes for Masterpieces of Fantasy, but no mention of authorship of Masterpieces of Science Fiction & Signed First Editions of Science Fiction notes.
If indeed he also penned the collector's notes or/and notes (one author) for Masterpieces of Science Fiction & Signed First Editions of Science Fiction, he indeed cannot plagiarize himself, but in my judgement can be accused of frequent copy-and-paste repetitiveness (déjà vu inducing).
Williams, D. L. (2001). An Easton Press Science Fiction Bibliography. Extrapolation, 42(2), 165–188.
It appears that Easton Press had James Gunn on retainer; similarly to today's front-piece generating machine :D, Dennis Lyall whose artwork adorns so many of today's volumes. Too bad that Easton Press does not want to give a chance to some budding artists some of whom would likely provide their work free of charge just to get a foot in the door...
Prefaces/introductions/Collector's Notes was the extra step Easton Press used to take to differentiate their editions. A lot of the extras are an illuminating introductory material to the author and/or his/her work. I do not pass judgement on the entirety of Gunn's work for Easton Press, but believe that in quite a few cases he simply "banged it out" and nobody at Easton Press made any changes to correct the overlaps.
Today's re-releases like To Kill a Mockingbird are exceedingly stripped down of any originality/individuality. It is the same cover albeit printed on cheaper leather with the same orange fabric endpages and page marker with no notes and no front piece. I understand it is easier and likely more profitable to take a text block from past editions or from another publisher and rebind it in leather without adding any pages for a unique preface and/or afterword, without original art, or even a loose leaf notes page; however, how long before even the faithful customers start balking at $100-150 regular editions especially with re-surging small fine press print shops, innovative Kickstarter-funded projects or nimbler competition like Folio Society etc...
We’ve always had to be careful when selecting EP books to purchase, and today the best artists you describe are pretty much limited to their signed-by-the-artist DLEs of which there are now 39, I believe, several of which are still available from EP.
My experience, though, with other publishers is even less agreeable. The small presses are usually way too expensive, you may wait years to receive a Kickstarter order (if ever), and FS hasn’t published a title that interests me in a very long time and most of their art is even worse than that in the standard EPs.
The only other publisher I have been patronizing recently is Suntup, many of whose artist gift editions are beautiful and reasonably priced, but you would have to be interested as I am in the horror genre.
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