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Red Jacket Press gets Classical

02/08/2004. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Red Jacket Press announces a new Line of facsimile SFF reprints. C.L. Moore's Judgment Night and Wilmar Shiras's Children of the Atom to be first titles reissued.

A new chapter in science fiction publishing turns this month with the release of the first two titles from Red Jacket Press, a new publishing house specializing in collectors' facsimile editions of classic science fiction books, beginning with two titles originally published in the 1950s by Gnome Press, one of the genre's early pioneers.

Founded in 1948 by David A. Kyle and Martin Greenberg, Gnome Press was part of the vanguard of new publishers (including Fantasy Press, Arkham House and Prime) that arose after World War II with the goal of bringing science fiction to a wider audience through affordable, high-quality hardcover collections, beginning with reprints of the best of the previous decades' pulp magazines.

From its first title (L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's The Carnelian Cube) to its last (Everret B. Cole's The Philosophical Corps), Gnome Press set a standard of quality with its material - the Gnome Press catalogue is virtually a Who's Who of early science fiction masters, including Isaac Asimov (I, Robot, Foundation), Arthur C. Clarke (Against the Fall of Night), Robert A. Heinlein (Methuselah's Children), Clifford D. Simak (City) and Frederik Pohl (Drunkard's Walk).

Together with their fellow innovators, Kyle and Greenberg helped lay the foundations for the modern canon of science fiction, and in the process helped to create a business model that countless small publishers have gone on to emulate.

Although Gnome Press ceased operations in 1962, co-founder David Kyle (the author of A Pictorial History of Science Fiction and The Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas & Dreams) has remained active in the field, and his contributions through Gnome Press have not been forgotten.

Created by Kyle's daughter Kerry Kyle and son-in-law Brian Pearce, Red Jacket Press - named for the distinctive red jacket he often wears at conventions - is dedicated to keeping the memory of Gnome Press and its achievements alive through a new series of slipcased facsimile editions. "I'm thrilled," says Kyle, "as well as honored personally, to see the Gnome Press books and authors being recognized in this way. Gnome Press is an historic milestone in science fiction history, and its original books are extremely sought after by today's collectors - they truly are treasures, as these facsimile editions will be."

The first two titles published by Red Jacket Press reprint the Gnome Press editions of Judgment Night by C.L. Moore and Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras. Though long unavailable in their original editions, both of these books have had a dramatic impact on the world of science fiction.

Judgment Night (originally published in 1952) is the first published book by Catherine Lucille Moore, a prolific author who has long been recognized as one of the most important female writers of science fiction's early years, a position that was made official with her 1998 induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. This collection was selected by the author as the best of her longer-form writing.

Children of the Atom (originally published in 1953), the story of children born with remarkable mental abilities as a result of an unintended experiment in genetic mutation, has long been credited (though never officially confirmed) with inspiring the incredibly popular comic book series The X-Men, and Shiras's affecting portrayal of frightened teenagers hiding their abilities from a world they know will not understand them has resonated deeply with generations of readers.

"These selections are outstanding," says Kyle. "C.L. Moore was a master storyteller, and Judgment Night is a perfect example of her craft, while Children of the Atom is a remarkable, thought-provoking novel that reads just as well today as when it was written."

The Judgment Night and Children of the Atom hardcover facsimile editions are each priced at $39.95, and both are now available for order from the publisher.

Each volume in this series is a complete reproduction of the original first edition, in hardcover, with the dust jacket, case, and interior pages of the original meticulously re-created for this collectors' edition. Also included are a handsome and durable protective slipcase (with the dust jacket art reproduced on its exterior), and a card with detailed biographical information about the author.

Future Red Jacket Press titles will be announced as they become available, and the publishers hope to expand the scope of their reprints to feature classic titles from other notable SF publishers.

More information on Red Jacket Press and its titles and authors can be found at www.redjacketpress.com

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