Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Badger Books

Entry updated 18 December 2023. Tagged: Publisher.


The main imprint of John Spencer and Co, used by that firm on almost all their books from about the beginning of 1955 through 1967, when the imprint was terminated. John Spencer and Co. itself was founded in 1946, incorporated in 1956 and eventually dissolved in 1983; like several other UK firms (e.g., Curtis Warren), it specialized in the production of purpose-written paperback originals in various popular genres, though the early 1950s saw some emphasis on magazines (in small-Digest and pocketbook formats), including Out of This World (2 issues 1954-1955) and Supernatural Stories, both being amalgamated under the latter title in 1955. Further magazines, all anonymously or pseudonymously co-edited by the Spencer publishing partners Samuel Assael and Maurice Nahum, were Futuristic Science Stories 1950-1958, Tales of Tomorrow 1950-1954, Wonders of the Spaceways 1951-1954 and Worlds of Fantasy 1950-1954. One House Name associated with these magazines was Hamilton Donne.

Some sf novels had been published, none distinguished, before the Badger imprint was created, all but one under the House Names Victor La Salle and Karl Zeigfreid; the sole exception was the only sf title from Spencer's Cobra imprint, John S Glasby's This Second Earth (1957) as by R L Bowers. From 1954 to 1967, though, several dozen numbered issues of Supernatural Stories were released, some consisting of a number of stories by a single author under various pseudonyms, and 37 issues comprising single novels (both categories are treated in this encyclopedia as books). Four early volumes of this sequence (#13, #15, #17 and #19) are surtitled Out of This World. More significantly, in 1958 Badger began an sf series which ran until 1966 and consisted of 117 novels, almost all originals. One single author, R L Fanthorpe, is popularly identified with Badger; but although he did write most of the titles, both sf and supernatural, he did not write them all. John S Glasby also wrote a number, and other writers like A A Glynn produced one or two each, almost invariably under Pseudonyms (for which see authors' individual entries) or House Names. For sf and supernatural titles, the principal Badger house names were Victor La Salle, John E Muller and Karl Zeigfreid; another was James Elton. Further Badger authors with entries in this encyclopedia are Noel Bertram, W H Fear and Tom W Wade. Writers for Badger worked for hire, and technically all Badger books are Sharecrops, though the publishers exercised control only over length (very rigidly), with content being a matter of some indifference. A 1960 letter from Nahum to Fanthorpe, reproduced in Down the Badger Hole: R. Lionel Fanthorpe: The Badger Years (coll 1995) edited by Debbie Cross [see further reading below], indicates that the standard novel book length was 45,000 words for which the payment was £22.10s.0d (£22.50, or 50 pence per thousand words).

The numbering of early Badger sf titles has caused some confusion. #1 was The Waiting World by R L Fanthorpe (1958). There was no #2, but two distinct titles – The World Makers by John S Glasby (1958) as John C Maxwell, and The Ultimate by W H Fear (1958) – were published as #3; there was also no #8, so the final sf title of the run of 117 is numbered #118. An alphabetical list of all authors with novels in this numbered sf series appears below.

Like the books' prose content, Badger cover illustrations (excepting a few reproduced from American sf covers) tended to haste and trashiness, exemplified by the more than 200 covers produced by the imprint's principal artist from 1960, Henry Fox. Approximately 112 of these were for the SF and SN (supernatural) series. Others who contributed multiple covers included Ed Emshwiller (reprinted from Ace Books), Eddie Jones, Carlo Jacono, Norman Light, S Nicholas and Ray Theobald.

It is understood that some sf readers have trawled the Badger list for gems. Steve Holland suggests that the Glasby novels written as by A J Merak are of some interest. [JC/SH/DRL]

see also: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre.

Badger Books SF Series authors

further reading


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies