Thursday 1 November 2012

Non-Stop by Brian W. Aldiss (Digit Paperback, 1960, Ed Emshwiller Cover): from the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair

For those who missed the notice on the Existential Ennui Facebook page – and if you haven't yet "liked" said page, then this is a prime example of the kind of exciting announcement you're potentially missing out on – I've had me mum down to stay for a few days, which is why things have been relatively quiet round here. Rest assured, however, that I've been enjoying myself immensely while you've all been staring at your computer screens, pining for the return of my (far-from) pithy missives: catching the latest Bond film, Skyfall, which, though very good, is by no means (as some have claimed) the best Bond ever; taking in a ballet – The Nutcracker at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; checking out the excellent Peter Messer exhibition at Lewes' Hop Gallery; and attending the 2012 London Paperback & Pulp Bookfair at the London Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, which myself and the mysterious proprietor of The Accidental Bookshop (but not, oddly enough, my mum) trotted along to on Sunday. And while, for me, this year's event didn't prove quite so fruitful as last year's, I did still come away with a small pile of books the bulk of them of a crime/spy bent, but also one SF paperback:

The first British paperback edition of Brian W. Aldiss's debut science fiction novel (although his third published book overall), Non-Stop. Issued by Digit Books in the UK in 1960, two years after the Faber first edition, this particular edition is pretty scarce; I can't find any copies of it for sale on Amazon or AbeBooks. Possibly that's because it takes Ed Emshwiller's kinetic cover art from the 1959 Ace Double appearance of the novel – Ace D369, which retitled Aldiss's tale as Vanguard from Alpha and paired it with Kenneth Bulmer's The Changeling Worlds (thanks to Steve Holland at Bear Alley for that snippet of info). Whatever: it's a key work in both Aldiss's canon and science fiction in general, and one I've been meaning to read for a while, so not a bad purchase for a pound.

And there were certainly plenty of preposterously cheap paperbacks on offer from a variety of dealers at the Paperback & Pulp Bookfair – boxes and boxes of the buggers:

Not to mention freestanding stacks:

And some hardbacks too:

A selection of Jamie Sturgeon's hardback crime fiction pictured there. Certainly the fair seemed busy enough, and most of the dealers appeared to be doing brisk business; towards the end of the day Jamie told me he'd done pretty well, although the most expensive item he'd sold was something he'd brought along especially... for me! (More on that anon.) In fact, as Maurice Flanagan, owner of Zardoz Books and one of the organisers of the fair, told me, for a while it was touch and go whether or not the show would even happen: Peter Chapman, a co-organiser of the fair for twenty years, sadly passed away in December 2011, and Peter was the only person who had contacts for many of the regular dealers. Luckily, enough dealers were tracked down to make this year's event viable, among them this sterling chap:

David Hyman, who I met for the first time at the show, and who had some terrific paperbacks for sale, many of which can be seen on his Flickr stream (and a couple of which I bought). David introduced me to a genial American named Tom Lesser, who runs the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show, and is, according to David, "one of the original US paperback collectors from way back in the 70s, helped develop the hobby, organised the first shows of this type in the US and apparently also has a paperback collection that's to die for. He usually makes it over to the UK show every year." David for his part has his own splendid blog, Mr. Hardboiled, which is well worth a butcher's when you get a moment.

As for my ill-gotten gains from the show, well – they look a little like this:

Many of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, are by Donald E. Westlake (writing under various guises), and I'll be unveiling those as Westlake Scores over the coming weeks (in amongst some other business). But although I've angled the books in that photo to purposely obscure the Westlakes (I'm such a tease...), you might just be able to make out the identity of the author of the paperback on top of the pile, a man who I'll also be writing about shortly, having promised I'd blog about him bloody ages ago...


  1. faithful researcher1 November 2012 at 16:57

    Don't leave us in suspense. Do a review of Skyfall. Us Bond fans want to know exactly what you think. Find the flimsiest pretext you can to work the books in if you need a book-based reason to write the article.

    Many thanks!

  2. Sadly, FR, I doubt I'll find the time. EE is run on a strict schedule, y'know, any deviation from which could spell DISASTER. Suffice it to say, I liked Skyfall, but it felt a bit like Sam Mendes had ignored Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and decided to make Bond fan fiction instead. Nothing wrong with that, and it's still a decent film, but it's a shame he didn't pursue the direction of the first two Daniel Craig movies – Casino Royale (which for my money ties with From Russia, with Love as the best Bond movie) especially.