I got on a UK theme yesterday with New Worlds and thought I’d continue on that path with another publication from essentially the same folks – Nova Publications – responsible for publishing New Worlds, Science Fantasy and
Nova Science Fiction Novels, from 1953 –
The scan is actually from a replacement copy. My original copy was, like many, acquired in the Huckster’s room of a convention, likely a Philcon or Balticon or Lunacon, as those were the three regional events I attended most frequently. It was originally in rough shape, very dried out, flaking and covers that were separating and did not improve its condition through its many moves.
At the time of acquisition, I was not yet sophisticated enough in my collecting to be concentrating on the Volume 1 Number 1 issues. I grabbed this one because of the cover illustration.
Apparently, for me, there is nothing so intriguing in the science fiction realm as the discovery of a spaceship relic. I mostly prefer my abandoned spaceships to be found in jungles or Venusian swamps, festooned with creeper vines, tilting off axis as it slowly sinks into the primordial muck, but any old setting will do in a pinch, be it orbiting in a Lagrange point, taking a parabolic trip through our solar system, hidden at the bottom of the ocean or slowly sinking into the sands of Mars, as is depicted on this cover.
This story, published as a stand alone (several publishers of this era, including Galaxy and Amazing, went the Magazine’s Title + “Novels” route as a way to gain additional and alternate distribution and rack space and to make the most economically of content they had already acquired (not in all cases).
Stowaway To Mars was actually originally published in 1936 as a stand alone novel under the entirely inspiring title of Planet Plane (thankfully not franchised and succeeded by Planet Bus, Planet Pedal Car, Planet Skip Loader, and Planet Row Boat). It was then later serialized in two different pulp magazines, not SF, though adjacent (a “boy’s adventure” magazine) and then, in 1953, as the first Nova Science Fiction Novel.
There would be a brief hiatus, after which Nova would publish the second first issue of Nova Science Fiction Novels a year later with a different look (a more “branded” presentation).
John Benyon is, of course, John Wyndham (1903-1969), whose stories appeared under a number of pseudonyms. His actual full name according to the SF Encyclopedia was John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (plenty of combinations there for pen names). He is perhaps best remembered for The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos. (Note to interested readers: the US version of Triffids is not the complete novel and has been modified by editors. So pick up a 1951 London edition.)
Wyndham was also a founding director of – Nova Publications (New Worlds, Science Fantasy, Nova SF Novels), which may have had a little something to do with the publication of Stowaway.
To complete the Nova section of the collection I still have to pick up a couple of the New Worlds resurrections, and a copy of the second first Nova Science Fiction Novels. I’ve got the US reprint edition covered.