Unlike previous issues of the unpredictable Ellery Queen Selects series, Jonathan Press J25 featured a novel instead of a collection of short stories. John Dickson Carr’s It Walks by Night was the writer’s first novel, written at age 24, starring French detective Henri Bencolin, and had previously been published and reprinted at least a half dozen times by Pocket Books beginning in 1941.
The November Reader’s Digest is out, and besides “The 10 Nicest Places in America” check out page 32. Yup, it’s another cartoon from the prolific Bob Vojtko, the working-class cartoonist and long-suffering Cleveland Browns observer.
The grand plans for the Ellery Queen Selects series began in 1947. Jonathan Press J26, Stuart Palmer’s “The Riddles of Hildegarde Withers,” was numerically the second in the series.
The excerpt from Frederic Dannay’s introduction to J26 below refers to “First Edition Mysteries.” This was apparently an inside, working title, as the digests replaced it with “Ellery Queen Selects” displayed across the top of the covers.
“[W]e preserve in our noble experiment, our colossal publishing venture, and bring you the next in our series [starting with the Hammett collections] of First Edition Mysteries—“The Riddles Of Hildegarde Withers” by Stuart Palmer. Coming soon—watch for them!—will be John Dickson Carr’s never-previously-published book of short stories titled “Dr. Fell, Detective and Other Stories;” Roy Vickers’s never-previously-published “The Department Of Dead Ends;” and Margery Allingham’s “The Case Book Of Mr. Campion;” and unquestionably there will be additional First Edition Mysteries to follow.”
Bestseller Mystery B59, from 1944, featured “The Case Book of Ellery Queen.” “It contained five short stories reprinted from the collection The New Adventures of Ellery Queen, never reprinted in digest form, and three radio scripts unavailable anywhere.”
Excerpt from “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” by Steve Carper from The Digest Enthusiast book five, January 2017.
Mercury Mystery #66 from 1943 reprints nine stories from the earlier hardback of the same name with 25. Queen’s challenge is simple:
“I’ll change the familiar names of the detectives to ones of my own invention, and I’ll challenge the reader to deduce who the detective is in each story. The only alteration of the original text will be the disguising of the detective’s name.
“[T]here will be clues galore . . . Clues created by the author of the story, lying right there in the author’s own text.”
Steve Carper explores this forgotten beauty and others in his article “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” in The Digest Enthusiast book five.
Opening lines of Shambleau by C.L. Moore, reprinted as Galaxy Novel #31 in 1958:
“Man has conquered space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which come echoes of half-mythical names—Atlantis, Mu—somewhere back of history’s first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues—heard Venus’ people call their wet world “Sha-ardol” in that soft, sweet slurring speech and mimicked Mars’ gutteral “Lakkdiz” from the harsh tongues of Mars’ dryland dwellers.”
A striking cover by Leo and Diane Dillon captures the essence of Fear by L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Novel #29 from 1957. The story first appeared in Unknown July 1940.
Galaxy Novel #28 1957 cover by Leo and Diane Dillon
In 1957, Galaxy Novel #28 appeared with Destiny Times Three by Fritz Leiber, a reprint that was originally divided into two issues of Astounding Science Fiction, March and April 1945.
Opening lines of The Last Starship by Murray Leinster, reprinted as Galaxy Novel #25 in 1955:
“Kim Rendell stood by the propped-up Starshine in the transport hall of the primary museum on Alphin III. He regarded a placard under the spaceship with a grim and entirely mirthless amusement. He was unshaven and hollow-cheeked. He was even ragged. He was a pariah because he had tried to strike at the very foundation of civilization. He stood beside the hundred-foot, tapering hull, his appearance marking him as a blocked man.”
Available in a 2007 reprint from Wildside Press.
Murder in Space by David V. Reed is the twenty-third Galaxy Novel, published in 1954 with a cover by Ed Emshwiller. The story first appeared in Amazing Stories May 1944.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
“It was one of those afternoons with which the colonial planet Mirabello is so often blessed. Its twin golden suns blazed merrily from the sky of flawless blue, and little puffs of breezes chased each other through poplars and willows, and the tall grass at the edge of the stream where Terwilliger Ames sat fishing was cool and fresh. If there was a word for such an afternoon, it was lazy—and if there was a word for Ames, well, that was lazy, too.”
Jack of Eagles by James Blish is the nineteenth Galaxy Novel, published in 1953, cover by Ed Emshwiller.
Synopsis: Danny Caiden’s on the run—from the FBI, the SEC, the Justice Department, and the Mob. Only recently, Danny had been an average New York copywriter, until he suddenly found he had ESP. His knowledge of the future is astonishing, and the rest of Danny’s powers are just beginning. But someone else wants him too: an evil group of preternatural men bent on world domination. They’ll stop at nothing until they capture Danny . . . or destroy him. Why? Because only Danny has the power to sabotage their diabolic tyranny. In the final, frenzied battle, Danny must summon all his powers, or sacrifice himself—and all mankind—to satanic slavery forever.