Putting together a collection of anything can be a frustrating and disheartening endeavour before indulging in the pleasure afforded by it’s eventual completion. I’ve spent many years tracking down records and books which I still haven’t managed to obtain despite having an endless list of internet resources to draw upon. Personally speaking, when a collection is left in a state of incompleteness for an extended period of time it becomes a monument to compromise – I am an owner of fractions but never of the whole.
When I began picking up books belonging to this series, they seemed to be both plentiful and reasonably priced. I was lulled into a false sense of achievement by these early acquisitions and rapidly obtained the first eight titles without much effort. The next four were a much tougher proposition, availability was extremely limited and the prices noticeably higher. After several more months of searching I required just a single volume, this is when the problem became apparent. The elusive book was The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick. Not only is PKD a highly collectable author but Stigmata is undoubtedly one of his best works therefore making my task of finding a copy twice as difficult.
A few months ago however, I stumbled on a US bookseller with a copy up for sale, the price he wanted almost made me pass it up but I decided to contact him anyway. After making a few sensible offers, the dealer declined to negotiate his price and I returned to thinking that my collection would remain at a round dozen. It therefore came as quite a surprise when the dealer contacted me again a few weeks ago and accepted my previous best offer.
When the book arrived safely yesterday, I could hardly believe it. I had finally managed to assemble a complete set. Here are all thirteen covers from this fine series of books published by Penguin in 1972-73. Each title boasts a stunning David Pelham cover, the whole series is unified by a number of thematic design and typography cues.
Dedicated to Frederik George Pohl Jr.
(November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013)