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Conklin, Groff

Entry updated 14 August 2023. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1904-1968) US editor who began his career as manager of Doubleday Book Stores 1930-1934, and who intermittently held various editing positions, in and out of commercial publishing, for the rest of his life; he was, however, primarily a freelance. The first of his many sf Anthologies was The Best of Science Fiction (anth 1946; vt The Golden Age of Science Fiction 1980), a huge compendium which vied in size and potential influence with Raymond J Healy's and J Francis McComas's Adventures in Time and Space (1946), although the latter book was contracted earlier and had first pick of the material. Nevertheless, The Best of Science Fiction and its successors from the same publisher – A Treasury of Science Fiction (anth 1948; much cut 1957), The Big Book of Science Fiction (anth 1950; much cut 1957) and Omnibus of Science Fiction (anth 1952; much cut vt Strange Travels in Science Fiction 1953; much cut vt Strange Adventures in Science Fiction 1954; much cut vt Science Fiction Omnibus 1952; cut 1986, with all cut versions differing in their excisions) – are rewarding compilations. In his later career, he increasingly produced anthologies on increasingly specific subject matter – they were in fact the first fully fledged theme anthologies to appear in the field – including Invasion in Invaders of Earth (anth 1952; much cut 1953; much cut 1955; much cut 1962; much cut 2vols vt Invaders of Earth 1962 UK and Enemies in Space 1962 UK, with all cut versions differing in their excisions); Time Travel and Parallel Worlds in Science Fiction Adventures in Dimension (anth 1953; cut 1955; cut 1965); Robots, Androids and Computers in Science Fiction Thinking Machines (anth 1954; cut vt Selections from Science Fiction Thinking Machines 1955) and Mutants in Science Fiction Adventures in Mutation (anth 1955; cut 1965). Conklin eventually became consultant sf editor to Collier Books, for whom he produced the notable anthologies Great Science Fiction by Scientists (anth 1962) and Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales (anth 1963), the latter with Isaac Asimov.

Conklin wrote a book-review column for Galaxy Science Fiction from #1 (October 1950) until October 1955. He also edited for Grosset and Dunlap a series of $1 hardcover sf novels, starting in 1950 with works by A E van Vogt, Jack Williamson and others. The series included the first book publication of Fury (May-July 1947 Astounding as by Lawrence O'Donnell; 1950; vt Destination Infinity 1956) as by Henry Kuttner alone (though in fact a collaboration with C L Moore); the intelligent introduction by Conklin has been reprinted in subsequent editions. Conklin's anthologies were never definitive but were always considered and capable; as an enabler, through these anthologies and as a series editor, Conklin was of considerable importance in legitimizing American Genre SF for the book markets it only began to penetrate after World War Two. For more recent readers, his 41 anthologies now seem to be the best and most sustained presentation imaginable of the virtues of the Golden Age of SF. [MJE/JC]

see also: Aliens; Cybernetics; Publishing.

Edward Groff Conklin

born Glen Ridge, New Jersey: 6 September 1904

died Pawling, New York: 19 July 1968


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