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Ace Books

Entry updated 30 December 2022. Tagged: Publisher.

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US paperback-publishing company founded by pulp-magazine publisher A A Wyn in 1953. Under editor Donald A Wollheim, Ace published a high proportion of sf, much of it in the "Ace Double" format of two titles bound together Dos-à-Dos: the first sf story to be published thus was Theodore S Drachman's Cry Plague! (1953 dos) in the volume with serial number D-13. The series included the first or early novels of many writers who became famous, such as John Brunner, Samuel R Delany, Philip K Dick, Gordon R Dickson, Thomas M Disch, R A Lafferty, Ursula K Le Guin, Robert Silverberg and Roger Zelazny.

Terry Carr became an editor in 1964 and later began the Ace Science Fiction Specials series, which received considerable praise. Carr left the company in 1971, followed by Wollheim, who began his own imprint, DAW Books, in 1972. A second series of Ace Specials, less highly regarded, ran from 1975 to 1977 under the in-house editorship of first Albert Dytch and subsequently Pat LoBrutto. Carr rejoined as freelance editor of a third series of Ace Specials in 1984, this time restricted to first novels; it included Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson, The Wild Shore (1984) by Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Eyes (1984) by Lucius Shepard, In the Drift (fixup 1985) by Michael Swanwick and Them Bones (1984) by Howard Waldrop. Nine volumes of this third series appeared with editorial credit to Carr, and three more after his death (at least one of which he had apparently worked on) edited by Damon Knight. In-house editors Beth Meacham and Terri Windling and, for a longer period, Susan Allison, also ensured that some high-quality books continued to be published in the 1980s, although the emphasis remained on sf adventure. In 1975 Ace had been sold to Grosset and Dunlap; a new sale in July 1982 saw Ace absorbed by Berkley and ceasing to be an independent company, although it remained as an imprint. Ace had been publishing, prior to the sale, more sf than any other publisher; the Putnam/Berkley/Ace combination continued to dominate US sf publishing, in terms of number of books, until 1987, thereafter maintaining second place.

There are several printed checklists of Ace sf publications, but none are complete. Double Your Pleasure: The Ace SF Double (1989 chap) by James A Corrick is useful for Ace Doubles, while Science Fiction and Fantasy Published by Ace Books (1953-1968) (1976 chap) by Dick Spelman (1931-2012) covers the important early years. See further reading and links below. [PN/MJE]

further reading

see also: Hugo.


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