Sunday, 20 November 2016

A Philip K Dick Rarity

This will take a little explaining, but the bottom line is that, if you're a Philip K. Dick or Blade Runner completist, I'm betting you've never seen one of these before, and you may well never see one again.

In the UK, so-called 'part works' are popular on the newstands, and via subscription. They are a series of magazines which each come with something - often a piece of a huge model, which builds up week by week (for example the Titanic, or the Millenium Falcon, or 007's Aston Martin), and often a book, building up into a library of a certain author or genre.

Part works are very expensive to launch, so publishers usually do a 'regional test' of a new part work idea: they print up a few copies if the first 2 or 3 issues and put them on sale in just one region of the UK for a few months. If the sales are good, they will start again on a national basis, with attendant TV advertising, the works.

What you have here is the magazine from issue 3 of a 1997 part work from Fabbri called 'Science Fiction Classics'. It originally came with a copy of Dick's 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' - an edition which turns up for sale very occasionally, and commands high prices. I don't have the book (though I have had one in the past), but I do have the even scarcer/more ephemeral magazine. It's particularly hard to come by because, as far as I can ascertain, the 'Science Fiction Classics' part work never went beyond the regional test phase. Sales obviously weren't good enough, so the few copies of issue 3 that were printed for the region in question were all that ever made it to the shelves. The promised issue 4 (featuring Ender's Game) never appeared at all.

This copy is not mint, but its 24 pages are full of interesting articles (as you'd expect with John Clute as a contributor) and especially commissioned art and visuals, including a striking double-page piece by Lee Gibbons, a section of which was used as the cover for the accompanying book.

One of the rarer entries in the PKD bibliography, soon to make its way to eBay...


  1. oh lush, what a thing of beauty!

  2. Interesting. I stumbled onto this page when I did a quick google for the "Science Fiction Classics" publication. I'd been having a good house clear-out and unearthed this issue (plus issues 1 & 2, all complete with their hardback books) in a sturdy box protected from the elements and misuse. They are in almost mint condition (the books actually are mint) so I've been having a careful read of them.
    There's a supplement in issue 1 that listed the intended first 10 issues. As you say, issue 4 was to be Ender's Game. The others were to be:
    5: I, Robot
    6: Neuromancer
    7: I Am Legend
    8: The Martian Chronicles
    9: Dune
    10: 2001 A Space Odyssey

    In issue 3 there's an A5 printed note from the publisher apologising for the run coming to an end early. Shame as I really enjoyed re-reading them after 20 years!

    1. Fascinating! Many thanks for that info. What a pity the series didn't continue... especially with that line-up...