Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Echoes: SFBC "Things to Come" Newsletter (Jan & Feb 1955)

There aren’t many things better than what I find in used books. Photographs, receipts, business cards, and every so often hard cash. The things people leave behind opens a window into the book’s history. Where it’s been and how it got into my hands. Bridging those two takes imagination, but that’s the best part.

I recently purchased Fredric Brown’s science fiction collection, Angels and Spaceships, as a book club edition hardcover; stuck between the front board and the first page was the January and February 1955 “Things to Come” pamphlet of the Science Fiction Book Club. It featured SFBC’s January selection—Portals of Tomorrow, edited by August Derleth, with stories by Bradbury, Simak, and Brown. The February selection was the book I purchased.
These advertisements stuck between book pages, and often (especially in mass market paperbacks) printed on the last few pages of a book, have an allure for me. The old titles, both familiar and new (to me), are vibrant and exciting. In this case, I would order every single book listed—Children of Wonder, edited by William Tenn, The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, The Mixed Men, by A. E. van Vogt, Needle, by Hal Clement, Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., The Puppet Masters, by Robert A. Heinlein. When the books arrived I would hold and study each one, carefully, looking at the synopsis, studying the copyright page, imagining the adventures and knowledge printed inside.

Maybe one of these days I’ll throw logic and caution to the wind and order a stack of books from an old advertisement, hoping it finds its way into The Twilight Zone where all orders are honored at those old time prices and everything is fresh off the press. Oh, the dreams that could be.
But until then, I always have those ads. Those dreams. 

The first scan is the pamphlet’s first (right) and last (left) pages. The second scan is the interior, pages two and three. Click the images and you should be able to read them.

1 comment:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Ben, while I have never found book-related pamphlets or flyers in my used books, I have on several occasions found visiting cards, bus and railway tickets, and library cards from the West, all of which indicating where the books might have originated from.