By now you must know that I’ve been acting as acquisitions editor/curator of fantasy and science fiction books for the new Prologue Books imprint from Adams Media/F+W Publications.

I’ve called them out as a client on my web site. I’ve blogged about them here. I’ve retweeted their tweets. And I’ve even blogged on their web site.

I’ve been  working with them for about six months now and it’s been quite an eye-opening experience. I’ve managed to secure the rights to some amazing books—whole catalogs by authors I truly love. I’ve also felt more than a few slip through my fingers.

I’ve even run up against a few authors who seem to be as fictional as the characters that populated their pulp-era SF and fantasy. Surely in 2012 everyone will appear fully exposed via Google, but believe it or not, some of these authors have managed to elude even the thinnest tentacles of the ever-writhing internet.

I’ve approached the process of selecting books for Prologue in a number of ways. I won’t bore you with my methodology, nor will I give away my secrets, but some of these brilliant lost novels came to me from my own bookshelves.

When we came to Seattle I discovered something that didn’t exist on suburban Chicago, from whence I came: the used bookstore. The Seattle area, however, is silly with them.

A scan of my copy of Worlds Apart.

I went on a mad, old-SF-paperback buying frenzy starting in 1997 that has not abated in the least in the intervening years. Let’s put it this way: When I moved here I had zero Ace SF Doubles. Now I have 179 of them. You know what’s really awesome? Most Half Price Books locations don’t necessarily have an ardent SF paperback collector on staff so you can find a book like the 1954 Avon edition of Worlds Apart by J.T. McIntosh at half off the cover price of . . . wait for it . . . thirty-five cents!

Speaking of J.T. McIntosh . . .

On my shelf when I first started working with Prologue was a copy of Flight from Rebirth by J.T. McIntosh. My detective work began. I discovered that Mr. McIntosh passed away in 2008. Google to the rescue: His papers and letters are in a permanent collection at the National Library of Scotland. Their web site has an email contact. A few weeks of negotiation, lots of help from the people at Adams Media, and we had it—the e-book rights to nineteen SF novels by J.T. McIntosh. Happiness! Success!

Another of my own personal possessions: the 1958 Pyramid Books edition of The Million Cities.

Then we had to find copies of the books, text in any form, to be scanned and proofread and turned into e-books. I mailed my copy of Flight from Rebirth off to Adams (sorry to see it go) and Adams’s Victoria Sandbrook went on a hunt for used copies of these out of print masterpieces from far and wide.

And came up two short.

Two SF novels by Scottish author J.T. McIntosh still elude us.

I need one copy each, in basically any condition, of the following books:

Galactic Takeover Bid


Out of Chaos

I’ve enlisted the help of friends in Canada, Australia, and the UK. I’m pretty sure neither of these books were ever published in the U.S. The brilliant author Jonathan Howard alerted me to an eBay UK auction of Galactic Takeover Bid last night, but by the time I saw his email the auction had closed—damn you, ever-revolving Earth and your pesky day/night cycle and time zones and stuff.

These two books still elude us. We have the right to publish them. All we need is the text.

How frustrating is that?

So here I am this week on Fantasy Author’s Handbook with this appeal for help. I NEED THESE BOOKS!

Anyone . . . ? Anyone . . . ? McIntosh . . . ?


—Philip Athans





About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Congrats on your J.T. McIntosh snag and the subsequent line of success that followed. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the books you’re seeking; I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere!

  2. Robert Kay says:

    Suggestion : JTM’s short stories are entirely uncollected and generally extremely slick and thought-provoking. You’d be doing us sci-fi nuts a great service by collating them and publishing them.
    Presumably you’ve found Galactic TOB by now.

  3. moejoo says:

    Yes. I’ve left a chat message with Barnesandnoble about J. T McIntosh and a Claire Winger Harris book also. It looks almost as if Out Of Chaos is a victim of underground censoring be-
    cause – unlike everything else of his – it is just not available. Let us PRAY there are not too many more examples of this.

  4. Impulse says:

    This is an old post, but it seems you never found ‘Out of Chaos’. Please contact me if you are still looking, I have a copy.

    • Philip Athans says:

      I don’t believe we ever got that book, no, but the imprint has more or less closed down–at least to any further publications. It’ll have to remain the one that got away!

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