The Puppet Masters, the publisher's review copy of one of science fiction's most important editorial influences
New York: Doubleday & Company, 1951. First edition. Hardcover. A superior first edition with impeccable genre association. This is a Donald A. Wollheim’s publisher’s review copy, a collector-worthy example in dust jacket and an important association copy that belonged to “one of the most important editorial influences on sf”. Doubleday & Company’s bright yellow “BOOK FOR REVIEW” slip is laid in at the half-title, specifying a publication date of “October 11, 1951”. Wollheim’s name is ink-stamped on the verso of the final blank endpaper and is the only previous ownership mark in the book.
Condition is fine in a near fine dust jacket. The cloth binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners. We note no appreciable soiling or wear and only minor wrinkling to the spine ends. The contents show only age-toning to the page edges and inner margins, but are otherwise unspoiled, with no soiling or spotting. The dust jacket is bright and complete, retaining the original $2.75 front flap price. Trivial wear is confined primarily to the spine ends. We note very light soiling to the extremities of the rear face and only touch of toning to the jacket spine. The dust jacket is protected in a removable, archival quality clear cover and the book resides in a clamshell case with paper spine label and pinkish-purple cloth matching the background hue of the dust jacket.
This copy is noteworthy on merit of condition alone. As Donald Allen Wollheim’s own review copy, it is a prize. Wollheim (1914-1990) was a U.S. editor, writer, and “one of the first and most vociferous of sf fans”. He rose to pre-eminence in the genre primarily on the strength of his editorial career, editing magazines which published rising science fiction authors, compiling anthologies, and working for several publishing houses. One of his anthologies was reportedly the first book to contain the words “science fiction” in its title (The Pocket Book of Science Fiction, 1943).
At Ace Books, he created and ran for decades one of the most dominant SF lists of the time. Wollheim was twice honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, as well as a Special Hugo Award for his role as a genre fan. “…he became a revered figure. His death marked – as clearly as those of Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein – the passing of the generation of the founders.” Wollheim was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, of which Heinlein is, of course, also a member.
Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) was one of the “Big Three” of American science fiction writers, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. A prolific writer, he published 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 collections, winning four Hugo Awards and three Retro-Hugos. Heinlein was a Naval Academy graduate and tried his hand in electoral politics, but when that failed he chose a writing career in the genre that suited his boyhood fascination with both astronomy and the works of H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jules Verne. His early success in the genre was interrupted by the Second World War, which he spent working at the Naval Air Experimental Station near Philadelphia, where two of his colleagues were L. Sprague de Camp and Isaac Asimov.
After the war, and beginning with Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein published a series of “juvenile” novels, winning his first Hugo Award in 1956 for Double Star. Beginning with publication of Starship Troopers in 1959, Heinlein began to infuse his work with more serious cultural, political, and philosophical themes and to write “my own stuff, my own way.” Starship Troopers would win the Hugo Award, as would Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). Heinlein’s 1951 genre classic, The Puppet Masters, is set in 2007, following nuclear war between the Soviets and the West. Earth has come under a secret invasion by slug-like creatures who mentally enslave humans, accessing their central nervous system by attaching themselves to the back of the neck. Item #003798