Category Archives: Books


You can’t judge a book by its colour

Topsham Bookshop


Books at Auction on 14th/15th December

We have more interesting lots for auction coming up in the December 2016 two day sale at Dominic Winter Auctioneers located in South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

On the first day (14th December) we have two lots in the General section, as follows:

329 – Charles Babbage. A first edition of The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise. A Fragment published in 1837 by John Murray, London. Re-bound in modern(-ish) green marbled boards quarter bound with moss green linen.

Babbage’s ninth (and unofficial since there were only eight in the original series) Bridgewater treatise, which were intended to discuss natural theology, draws on his experience with calculating machines to devise a picture of God whose undeviating law would be consistent both with successive special creations of natural species and with miracles. Both the theology and the science of the treatise foreshadowed the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species twenty two years later.

455 – Maurice Wilkes, David J. Wheeler & Stanley Gill. A first printing of The Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer (Subtitled ‘With special reference to the EDSAC and the use of a library of subroutines’). Published by Addison-Wesley Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in 1951, this book is considered to be the first generally published text on computer programming.

Wilkes (who designed and built Cambridge University’s EDSAC machine) subsequently developed (with the assistance of Wheeler and Gill) the concept of subroutines in programs to create reusable modules. This is a scarce volume – the more so as it is not an ex-library copy.

In the Modern Firsts section on day two (15th December), our lots are as follows:

894 – W. J. Burley – The Sixth Day together with Philip K. Dick & Roger ZelaznyThe Preserving Machine & Other Stories.

Better known for his crime novels featuring the detective Charles Wycliffe, this is Burley’s only foray into science fiction and is scarce in as good condition as this copy. The PKD/Zelazny collection of short stories includes ‘We can Remember it for you Wholesale’ which was the basis for the movie Total Recall.

916 – Raymond E. Feist.  A signed copy of the UK first hardcover edition of Magician. Extremely rare.

956 – George R.R. Martin. A set of the first four books in the author’s A Song of Fire & Ice series. UK first hardcover editions (and first printings) of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. All signed by the author and all but A Feast for Crows additionally signed by cover artist Jim Burns.

960 – W.F. Nolan & G.C. Johnson. The UK 1968 first edition of Logan’s Run. A nice copy of this classic SF novel. The highly sucessful film version released in 1976 was directed by Michael Anderson and starred Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Farrah Fawcett, amongst others.

971 – Olaf Stapledon. A collection of 5 UK 1st editions: Sirius – A Fantasy of Love and Discord, Last Men in London, Star Maker, The Flames: A Fantasy and A Man Divided.

972 – Neal Stephenson. Signed and numbered limited edition copies of the three slipcased volumes comprising the author’s Baroque Cycle, namely Quicksilver, Confusion and The System of the World. Published in the US by William Morrow.

976 – J.R.R. Tolkien. A three volume set of the 1966 revised 2nd edition (1st printing) of The Lord of the Rings.

977 – William T. Vollmann. Rising Up and Rising Down. 7 volumes of the US 1st edition in a slipcase, each signed by the author.

More details and a catalogue for download are available here: —> Dominic Winter General 14th December 2016 and Dominic Winter Modern Firsts 15th December 2016

15th December 2016 Update:

A reasonable sale. Seven lots sold, three unsold. The Vollmann set again a non-seller as was the Burley/PKD pair and, surprisingly to me, the Wilkes/Wheeler/Gill programming book also failed to sell. On the plus side, the GRRM set did very well with a hammer price of GBP 2,100. Results can be downloaded in PDF format via the link given above.

Peter Jackson adapting Mortal Engines for film

News just in: Peter Jackson is to adapt Philip Reeve’s very well-received young adult fantasy novel Mortal Engines for the screen! More information at the author’s website: Philip Reeve

Philip was a guest of honour at BristolCon 2013 and he was a pleasure to listen to and talk with.

8th September 2018 Update:

The film version of Mortal Engines is scheduled for release on 14th December 2018.

Wild Cards to be a TV series

News from GRRM’s blog ( that the comic-book style series Wild Cards is to be adapted for television by Universal Cable Productions. Original Wild Cards contributor Melinda M. Snodgrass will be an executive producer on the project.

George and many other authors have been contributing to the series since 1986 (with first publication in 1987), making it the longest running shared world series to date. For those who are concerned that this will be yet another distraction from the Song of Ice and Fire series, George makes the following statement: “I won’t be working on the series myself… my own development deal is exclusive to HBO, and I am writing THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I believe most of you will recall…”

I’m pretty sure that this TV series will not have the global impact registered by Game of Thrones as it is a bit too American for some tastes, mine included. I never did warm to comic-book superheroes of the DC and Marvel type. Ironically, the first Wild Cards publication was a hardcover edition rather than comic-book format, but in 1990 EPIC Comics issued a series in comic-book format. Here is a sample cover:


Wild Cards: Diamonds in the Rough Vol 1 No 2

It is also interesting to note that between 1993 and 1995 George and Melinda M. Snodgrass created a screenplay based upon Wild Cards for the now defunct Hollywood Pictures division of Walt Disney Studios – but it remained unproduced.


Zelazny’s Amber to be adapted for TV

From the people who brought you The Walking Dead comes a TV adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s wonderful Chronicles of Amber. More info here:

Think I’ll hang on to my copies of Nine Princes in Amber for now. Here is the US true 1st edition published in 1970 by Doubleday:


Nine Princes in Amber US First Edition

Allegedly the publishers ordered their warehouse to pulp all copies of Zelazny’s existing books the same day this came in from the printer, so only review copies, pre-orders, and library copies escaped into the wild, thus making non-Ex-Lib copies such as this one a rarity. At the time of writing there are around a dozen such copies to be found for sale via the website.

This copy was acquired from a bookstore in The Hague during the time I was working at the European Patent Office in nearby Rijswijk.

Books at Auction on 21st July

We have several interesting lots for auction in the Modern Firsts section of the 21st July 2016 sale being held by Dominic Winter Auctioneers at South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. The lots are as follows:

709 – Douglas Adams. Various titles (7 in total) including the UK firsts of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

710 – Douglas Adams. A signed copy of the UK first of The Illustrated Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

716 – Pierre Boullé. The UK first and first English edition of Monkey Planet (the basis for the film The Planet of the Apes).

725 – Philip K. Dick. The UK first editions of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick. 5 volumes.

754 – Stephen King. The UK first of Salem’s Lot.

759 – David Lindsay. The Savoy Books 2002 limited edition of A Voyage to Arcturus.

782 – William T. Vollmann. Rising Up and Rising Down. 7 volumes of the US 1st edition in a slipcase, each signed by the author.

More details and a catalogue for download are available here: —> Dominic Winter Modern Firsts 21st July 2016

21st July 2016 Update:

A good sale. Six lots sold, the Vollmann set being the non-seller. Results can be downloaded in PDF format via the link given above.

A Game of Jackets

It was almost 20 years ago on 5th August 1996 that Harper Collins UK published A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin under their Voyager science fiction and fantasy imprint. Whether this was the world first edition is a matter of contention. Copies of the US Bantam first edition which had been printed well in advance of the official publication date (also in August 1996) were given away at the annual American Booksellers Association convention held in Chicago in June 1996 and on this basis GRRM claims the US edition to be the world first. However, given that this was not the official publication date, I for one would argue that the UK edition is the true first. If give-away copies are to be classed as true firsts then proofs or advanced reading copies which are also given away should be classed as true firsts and that would be a major change across the whole world of book collecting (which I wouldn’t mind, given my tendency to purchase them).

Incidently, the July 1996 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine included a novella entitled Blood of the Dragon which was based upon the Daenerys chapters from AGoT and went on to win the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella. But back to the UK first edition…

Prior to publication, Harper Collins produced a Collectors’ Preview Edition (ISBN 0006482759) – a small 124 page perfect bound booklet which contained the first nine chapters of AGoT. It cost 99 pence to buy and offered the purchaser a special price on the full hardcover edition once it became available at the originating bookstore.


A Game of Thrones UK Preview Edition

Needless to say, an example of this small piece of ephemera in fine condition now costs considerably more than 99p! But what interested me about it was the rather imposing bright yellow section to the bottom right of the front panel. Clearly something must be covered up by this frankly inappropriate modification to the excellent jacket artwork  created by the Jim Burns, but what and why?

As can be seen below, the jacket for the UK first edition shows a vignette of a male character dressed for cold weather and therefore from the North of Westeros and presumably one of the Stark family, probably Ned, but could equally be Rob or even Jon Snow.


A Game of Thrones UK First Edition Jacket

Clearly it is necessary to see an image of the original artwork in order for this mystery to be solved, but where is it now? For a time, the original was in the posession of Jim Burns’ agent Alison Eldred, but it was sold to a collector (in Canada, I believe) along with the three other pieces that Jim created for the Voyager editions, i.e. one for A Clash of Kings and two for A Storm of Swords, the mass market paperback of the latter having been split into two volumes due to it’s size.

As it happens, there are two options available for us to view. The first can be found at the website of Jim’s agent (AGoT Fine Art Print @ Alison Eldred) where one can find details of how to purchase a signed, limited edition fine art print of this and the other three artworks from the series. As you can see, it is the wraparound artwork in the raw state, free from all text:

Jim Burns AGoT artwork

Jim Burns’ original artwork for the jacket of the UK first edition of A Game of Thrones

It is immediately evident that the character at the bottom right is quite different from the final version – definitely more oriental in appearance, almost Ghengis Khan-like and presumably intended to represent Khal Drogo. Like myself, Jim usually attends the annual one day convention held in Bristol (the cunningly named BristolCon) and I asked him last year why the change had been made, but he said he could not remember the reason. My guess is that someone at the publisher (presumably the editor) considered it a bit too oriental and suggested it be changed.

What I love about this and the other pieces in the group is that the wood you see is not digitised, it is marquetry – real wood veneer inlaid with the painted artwork.

I said earlier that there was a second option available and this jacket from the Dutch first edition is it:


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Jacket


Somehow this got out into the wild without the edit and is, as far as I am aware, unique amongst all editions published worldwide. The only other edition to feature Jim’s artwork is the Hebrew language edition and that has the edited version, albeit with a reversed image. Just for comparison, here is the wrapper from the Dutch edition (and I know which one I prefer):


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Wrapper

During my time hunting around the bookshops in the Netherlands I only ever found one copy of the jacketed Dutch first edition and this makes me wonder whether it was a proof version of the jacket which was never used. Any other owners of such a copy out there?

25th October 2016 update: Recently received this link from Jonty Clark regarding a Canadian guy named Pat Robinson who has a huge collection of GoT artwork, including the Jim Burns originals:

Last year at BristolCon, Jim mentioned that Pat wanted to commission him to do artwork in the same style for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. As Jim will be attending this year’s BristolCon on Saturday 29th October, I shall ask if has accepted the commission.