Science Fiction and Fantasy first editions and rare books - many signed by the authors and/or illustrators, as well as deluxe limited editions. Specialists in evocative dust wrappers. Late 19th century, 20th century and modern UK, Irish & American first editions. Condition is key for selection to our carefully curated collections.
Science Fiction and Fantasy First Editions
Science fiction and fantasy both fall into the category of speculative fiction, taking place in worlds beyond or parallel to our own. The two genres have a lot in common, such as otherworldly settings, non-human characters, and strange or paranormal events. Generally speaking, the main difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction tends to deal with technology, looking into the possibilities of the future, while fantasy is more concerned with magic and the supernatural, often drawing inspiration from the past. Common tropes in sci fi might be the repercussions of artificial intelligence, life beyond earth, and interstellar exploration, often focussing on scenarios which could theoretically be made possible. Fantasy, on the other hand, focusses on the mythical and the impossible, like magical creatures, epic quests, and worlds that are separate to our own. There is much overlap between them however, and any real rules for distinguishing between the details of each genre often falls into the hands of their dedicated fans.
It can be argued that fantasy is one of the oldest genres in fiction, with its roots lying in myths and legends that reach back to the ancient world. Science fiction, on the other hand, is relatively modern, only beginning to take off in the 19th century with technological advances such as electricity and steam travel taking the world into a new, experimental age. The earliest pioneers of the genre were authors such as Jules Verne and H G Wells, with some even arguing that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a predecessor to the genre, on account of its use of electricity to reanimate Frankenstein’s Monster.
Though many of its elements had abounded in fiction beforehand, such as in Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 utopian work The Blazing World, George MacDonald is generally credited with writing the first fantasy book, Phantastes, and is thought to have been an influence on the writing of J R R Tolkein and C S Lewis. Adventure novels and the ‘lost world’ genre, where groups of adventures encounter forgotten or unknown lands, also contributed to the popularity of fantasy. Many children’s books at the turn of the century, such as Peter Pan, also featured journeys to other worlds, and for a time solidified fantasy as a children’s genre. The creation of ‘high fantasy’ such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels brought the genre to new heights, and their legacy is obvious today in increasingly popular franchises such as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Wheel of Time, with big-budget television epics bringing these worlds to more people every day.
This collection features a number of first edition fantasy and science fiction books by a range of both classic and modern authors. The wide scope of the genres means that there can be a huge amount of variation even within the same category, meaning there is something which can suit all tastes.
Authors of note in the collection of rare fantasy books include Stephen King, who is best known for supernatural and horror writing, gaining popularity and acclaim after the publication of his novel Carrie. As well as first editions, there are also several signed copies.
Among our signed first edition books we have several by Justin Cronin, including original proof copies of The Passage, from his supernatural vampire trilogy.
Currently among our special edition books is a collection of Folio Society editions of John Wyndham’s campus novels. He is best known as a writer of science fiction, his work set mainly in post-apocalyptic backdrops, such as in Day of the Triffids. These are not only brilliant examples of mid-century science fiction, but also beautiful classic books in themselves.
Ursula Le Guin was an early pioneer of science fiction and fantasy, with her debut sci-fi Rocannon’s World, which takes inspiration from fantasy tropes as well as science fiction. She was the first woman to win both a Hugo and Nebula prize, and has been hugely influential in her genre.
Another Folio Society edition is that of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a comedic science fiction work following Arthur Dent, the last man alive after the destruction of earth, another in our collection of beautiful book editions.
Terry Pratchett, best known for his extensive Discworld novels, which number 41 in total, is also well represented in the collection of rare first edition books. These novels are known for their use of science fiction and fantasy tropes, often satirical tone, and use of mythology and folklore.
For specially keen fantasy fans, the collection also includes non-fiction explorations of the world of Tolkein for those who want to delve further into the highly influential universe created, which has remained well-loved since its conception.