July 17, 2002
3:27 PM   Subscribe

Ace Doubles were undersized paperback novels published from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s. One book was on one side, the other, upside-down on the back. Sometimes, they were intended to introduce a new author t o the public by piggybacking the newcomer with a well-known professional (with varying results). Aside from the novelty of the layout of an Ace Double there is the fabulous art by now-unknown artists like Ed Emshwiller (Emsh), Jack Gaughan (my favorite) and Ed Valigursky. I myself am partial to the D series. â??
posted by interrobang (17 comments total)
sorry about the weird "a??" thing at the end; this is my first post, and I'm new to html. as in: new, as of today.
posted by interrobang at 3:28 PM on July 17, 2002

This is a great post, first or otherwise.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:43 PM on July 17, 2002

I used to read these Harlequins that were a bit similar: the main "novel" came first, followed by a short story that usually featured one of the minor characters from the "novel".

Are there any Ace Doubles like this? I think it would be a great idea if you had two stories, only the protagonist and antagonist switched, depending on which side you read.

For example, the Battle of Gettysburg, and on one side is General Meade's story, on the other is General Lee's. Science fiction seems particularly well-suited for that kind of experiment.
posted by rocketman at 4:21 PM on July 17, 2002

mr. rocketman:

I don't think that there are any ace doubles like this, except for "The Mind Spider" and "The Big Time" (linked above), one of which is a novel, and the other short stories about the situations from the novel. I have it in my collection.

Christopher Priest's novel The Prestige switches between two characters in a way that ma kes it unclear which is the protagonist and which is the antagonist. It's about two rival stage magicians..Ë?
posted by interrobang at 4:32 PM on July 17, 2002

god damn that fucking "E?" why is this happening to me?!?Ã??Ã?
posted by interrobang at 4:32 PM on July 17, 2002

Woe and thanks, interrobang! I collected paperbacks for a while but stopped when prices became absurd but then I was collecting the obvious stuff (first p/b editions of writers not usually associated with large print runs: Capote, Nabokov, Faulkner). Your links show there's obviously still a lot of room for someone starting out with little money.

I relied on an old, but hefty and quite complete paperback price guide I still use - but couldn't find it on the web.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:25 PM on July 17, 2002

Byw, jinxing first posts is written into the code; it just shows you done well. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:26 PM on July 17, 2002

Mmmm, thanks for the memories. I think Andre Norton's Daybreak -- 2250 A.D. may have been the first SF novel I ever read. And a magical event it was, too.

As they say, the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 13.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2002

interrobang---Terrific sites, ALL of them! Thanks!

Miguel---Uh, these won't be cheap. I can only speak for the sf, mind you, but sf Ace doubles now run the gamut from 25 cents to $100, depending on the author. I've seen Chip Delany's Ace doubles priced even higher, which makes me awfully glad I got mine when they came out. *grin*

Shall I tell you an Ace double story that these days makes a collector blanche? Yes, I shall:

Back in the fifties, Ricky (now my husband) was visiting a friend of his in the hospital. The friend complained bitterly that he was bored and he had nothing to read. Ricky said, "No problem!" (or whatever the equivalent expression was in those days), pulled the Ace double he was currently reading from his back pocket, whipped out his pocket knife and *sliced* the book in half....

Ah, yes. Ace doubles, the books you could share with a friend in need!

More Ace double stories tomorrow, if I have the time..
posted by realjanetkagan at 12:05 AM on July 18, 2002

Some magazine with Book in the title has a column by J. Lethman this month how he's indirectly responsible for the reissue of one of the worse Philip K. Dick books (one that appeared in an Ace Double)- "Vulcan's Hammer."

It's amazing how many of the truly great Sci Fi authors released ace doubles. Not so amazing if you consider Ace was one of the few publishers of sci-fi during the period.
posted by drezdn at 12:39 AM on July 18, 2002

Vulcan's Hammer: Battle of the Brain Machines -- Sept. 1960, art by Ed Emshwiller.

"Dick always spoke contemptuously of his last two sf novels of the '50s. He wrote in 1979 that Vulcan's Hammer was 'my very worst,' and joked in 1977 that should heaven pass judgement against him he envisioned a 'very special' punishment -- 'Because you've done a very special thing: you are going to have to read your own books for the rest of eternity ... especially Vulcan's Hammer.'"
posted by Dean King at 6:43 AM on July 18, 2002

Are there any Ace Doubles like this? I think it would be a great idea if you had two stories, only the protagonist and antagonist switched, depending on which side you read.
Sort of. There is a Philip Jose Farmer release that has The Mad Goblin on one side and Lord of the Trees on the other. Both books have the same final battle, seen from different viewpoints.

Out of print, natch, but Bookfinder is your friend.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:50 AM on July 18, 2002

cool. i collect paperbacks. love the old anti-commie stuff. "Red Rape". Got a few H. Millers. 1st ed. of C of Maroussi. "Lost in Space", a couple of "The Prisoner" (#2 ans 3) All the flemings. 1st ed. of 2001...love them. Ace doubles can be pricey. Lots of Penguins, love the P's.
posted by clavdivs at 8:19 AM on July 18, 2002

Yes! I hadn't thought of the Farmer double about "the mad goblin"...

And abebooks.com is a better resource for cheap used books.

Yes, some of these can be really expensive, but the key is being on the lookout for them in places where their value is n ot known. The vast majority of them can be had for a couple of dollars. Of course, those by Harlan Ellison, P.K. Dick, and William Burroughs run in the hundreds; but you can still get a book by Robert Silverberg or John Brunner writing under pseudonyms for cheap (Calvin Knox and Keith Woodcott, respectively).iË?
posted by interrobang at 8:43 AM on July 18, 2002

And abebooks.com is a better resource for cheap used books

abebooks.com results are included in Bookfinder searches, I'm pretty sure with no markup (as they send you right back to Abebooks). There can be signal:noise problems with a Bookfinder search tho', especially now that they are listing half.com results. Forgot about that.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:53 AM on July 18, 2002

whipped out his pocket knife and *sliced* the book in half....

posted by interrobang at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2002

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