Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Preview: Between Worlds (Preview #3)

Click on the image at the upper left to read the pdf file in your browser, or do whatever you do with your browser (usually right-click with a two-button mouse, or control-click with a one-button mouse, and select "Download Linked File") to download.

Between Worlds is the second volume in our Thrilling Wonder Stories Origins Series of works from the formative years of science fiction. This novel by Garret Smith originally appeared as a five-part serial in The Argosy in 1919. Our edition includes five illustrations created by Virgil Finlay for an edited reprint in Fantastic Novels Magazine in 1949.

Considering it's my job to push all the saleable elements of our edition, I'm kind of embarrassed I've forgotten to mention one until now. As I've said before, this is the first book edition of Between Worlds since 1929, and the first I'm aware of in any form since 1949. What I haven't mentioned is that this is the first appearance of the complete text since its original publication in 1919.

I'll talk about the excisions from the 1929 trade paperback next time. Fantastic Novels cut the 1919 text both for space and for content. As a regular magazine, Fantastic Novels had a very specific amount of space to fill, and to make it, they excluded up to two paragraphs at a time. Near the end, they even replaced words with shorter synonyms in order to shorten paragraphs by a line.

But it's the alterations for content that are most amusing. They twice used "sweetheart" as a replacement for "lover," and once for "inamorata" (egad! fetch my smelling salts!). "Passion" became "interest" or "love" (even if the person who now felt "love" could not be a "lover").

But now, on to the preview. Last time, Hunter, son of the Chief Patriarch of Venus, and his crew (including Scribner, the narrator) discovered that their world was not, in fact, a bright hemisphere in an unending sea of darkness, but a sphere, half light and half dark, in a great firmament of tiny, bright lights. As we join our heroes, they have set the course of their flying ship toward the brightest. But as the ship leaves Venus behind, they are horrified to see their planet apparently engulfed in flames!

And this week, as they approach the halfway point in their journey to the blue-white world, our heroes, for whom everything they believed and depended upon has changed in unexpected and/or frightening ways, find reality going even more topsy-turvy....

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