De Camp, L. Sprague
(reprint) omnibus: 1963
cvr art:
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Ace (F-249)

Ace-Double (1 author)
Ed Emshwiller; Ed Emshwiller
ex-ChUSFA: stamp on first inside page, page 85. MORE INFO

Ace Double (F-249) 1963 paperback. Both covers by Ed Emshwiller, 40 cent cover price. Condition is VG: tight and square; spine is flat but with 1 or 2 faint line(s) down middle; mild uniform age tanning (average for its age); light to moderate overall wear - a couple of 1" finger-creases on "Hand" side, and 2 faint crease at upper right of "Search" side (see scan.) Stamp on each first page & page 85 - from the reserves of a defunct SF library (same source as the IF magazines I've sold in past years.) No other marks or writing - a clean copy.

An Ace Double with both sides by L. Sprague de Camp: The Search for Zei, bound with The Hand of Zei. This has a convoluted publishing history: magazine serial was in Astounding October 1950 to January 1951 as "The Hand of Zei." That serial was slightly epanded, and then split into 2 books for book publication in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1962 & 1963 - with the titles below. (The expansion probably consists of a new ending for the first part, and a new beginning for the 2nd part to recapitulate the first part.) For this first paperback edition, the 2nd "book" was "moderately abridged by the author" (to remove the recapitulation?) The Search for Zei was re-titled for a British paperback in 1966 (but the 2nd book was not printed in Britain at all.) Decades later, in 1981, the serial was reunited for hardcover publication under the original magzine title (The Hand of Zei) by Owlswick Press. To complete the confusion, Ace reprinted the Owlswick text for its paperback edition, along with the rest of the series. (So that 1982 Ace edition is not exactly a reprint of this 1963 version.)

The Search for Zei - corresponds to Parts 1 and 2 of the serial "The Hand of Zei" in Astounding October and November 1950. {This was re-titled to The Floating Continent for a 1966 British paperback edition.} For an idea of the plot, I'm quoting from the first page blurb:
"Here under the scorching rays of the hot high sun, the beaked galleys of Dur and the tubby round-ships of Jazmurian slowly rot in the unbreakable grip of a vast floating continent of sea vine. Even the violent storms of the Krishnan sub-tropics no more than riffle the surface of this immense floating swamp. Nothing, once caught in this web of weed, can escape..."
Barely had Dirk Barnevelt written these words as part of a publicity campaign for his boss, than he learned that he would shortly find himself isolated in the middle of this terrible place on a barbaric planet without the aid of scientific equipment, surrounded by deadly dangers, with an unfulfilled mission and the dire necessity of making an escape he had just declared impossible.

(bound with): The Hand of Zei (abridged) - this corresponds to Parts 3 and 4 of the serial "The Hand of Zei" in Astounding December 1950 to January 1951. For an idea of the plot, the first page blurb quotes from a review in Analog by P. Schuyler Miller:
"Dirk Barnevelt, tame writer for Shtain Enterprises, is sent to Krishna to find and bring home its company's explorer-founder, captive of the pirates of the Sargasso-like Sunquar. Zei, Princess of Qirib, is kidnapped from under Barnevelt's nose, and as this new book opens he is escaping across the floating weed beds on improvised skis, with the girl but without Shtain. The rest of the book is devoted to the process by which our hero finishes his original job..."