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Writing Date

Pub. Date







Aug 1955





IMAGE006.JPG (7802 bytes)   UK: Rich & Cowan, hb, ?, Aug 1955, 216pp, 10/6d (Rudland) {Levack: “Bound in dark blue paper boards with silver lettering and spacehip logo on the spine. States “First Published – 1955” on the copyright page. No date on the title page. According to L.W. Currey there is a second binding state with orange paper boards and black lettering on the spine. The compiler saw a third state consisting of very heavy orange boards with black lettering on the spine, but the spaceship logo had been replaced by the publisher’s logo (a stylized lion) on the spine. It is not known if this was issued by the publisher or was privately rebound from the second binding state. The latter case is more likely. Also, according to L.W. Currey there exists a later dustjacket state listing Dick’s WORLD OF CHANCE, which has been observed on both of the first two binding states. Currey indicates that the blue binding has priority.”}


    The highlight for PKD in the summer of 1955 was publication in England of his first collection, A HANDFUL OF DARKNESS by Rich & Cowan in Aug 1955.

    It had taken quite a while to get this book together. Rich & Cowan had approached Dick with the idea of a collection in late 1953, contacting Dick through the Agency. I imagine it took so long to publish due to transatlantic communication delays.

    This collection is now a sought-after collector’s item and demands high prices. A second edition printed by Rich & Cowan in Jun 1957 is only slightly less desireable. The collection was never published in the United States until the Gregg Press edition in 1978. Other editions came later, particularly in England from Panther/Granada/Grafton. In foreign languages, editions have been done in Dutch, German, Danish and Swedish.

    Looking over the contents, we see some of PKD’s best stories from 1953 and a couple of his worst. The cutoff date appears to be the end of 1953, with "Upon The Dull Earth" the last written story included in the collection, and that was written in Dec 1953.

    Anthony Boucher, editor of F & SF, reviewed the volume well:

    In short stories, I discover belatedly that one of 1955’s best science fantasy volumes by an American appeared only in England: Philip K. Dick’s A HANDFUL OF DARKNESS (Rich & Cowan, 10s. 6d.). Readers of F & SF, which enjoyed the honor of discovering Dick, know the freshness of his concepts, his sharp sense of unfamiliar terrors, the easy naturalism of his everyday people against strange and imaginative backgrounds. Here are 15 of his stories (3 from these pages), almost all of them ranging from good to excellent and only one previously reprinted. (I don’t understand why Dick has been so neglected by anthologists … including, I must confess, me.) I urge readers to order the volume through book-importers – and urge American publishers to correct the local absence of a Dick collection.

    As a collection of PKD stories, the selection in A HANDFUL OF DARKNESS rates

OTHER EDITIONS                                            For Cover Pix click here: aaaPKDickBooks.jpg (3234 bytes)

1957   Rich & Cowan, hb, ?, Jun 1957, ?, 6/6d (?) {Cover same as 1st Edition}
1966   Panther, pb, 2108, 1966, 186pp, 6/- (?) {Levack has price 3/6}
1979   Gregg Press, hb, 2413-0, Jun 1978, 223pp, $11.00 (Hannah Shapero) {Levack: Bound in dark green cloth with gold lettering on the spine. "First Printing, June 1978" on the copyright page. Issued without dust-jacket. Text is photo-reproduced from the 1955 Rich & Cowan edition.}
1980   Granada, pb, 0-586-04804-9, Jan 1980, 186pp, 95p (Colin Hay)
1988   Grafton, pb, 0-586-04804-9, Nov 1988, 237pp, L2.99 (Chris Foss)


    Bruna SF, pb, 1100, 1969, 189pp, ?, (Dick Bruna) {tr. into the Dutch by Henk Bouwman as EEN HANDVOL DUISTERNIS [+A110] [-A100, A67, A95, 157, A134, 129]}
    Stig Vendelkaer, pb, ?, 1973, 207pp, ?, (?) {tr. into Danish by Kristian Kliim as EN HANDFUL MORKE}
    Terra Sonderband, pb, 76, 1973, ?, ? (?) {tr. into German as EINE HANDVOLL DUNKELHEIT}
IMAGE004.JPG (6134 bytes)   Delta SF, ?, ?, ?, ?, Hft50 (?) {tr. into Swedish as EN HANDFULL MORKER}




Vol.1, #2, Aug 1987, p48

(PKD:) "In June of 1953 I published 27 stories and about as many the next year. In June 1953 I had seven short stories on the stands simultaneously, but no American publisher had approached me to do a collection. This was before I had done any novels and Rich & Cowan in England approached me with the idea of putting out a collection of stories." [i.e. A HANDFULL OF DARKNESS]

(RL:) How did they contact you? Did they come through your agent?

(PKD:) Yeah, through Scott Meredith. They bought SOLAR LOTTERY, my first novel, and brought it out as WORLD OF CHANCE. But they brought it out in a truncated form. They insisted that a great deal be deleted from it. I did, in fact, make a different version of SOLAR LOTTERY for them. It's quite different from the US version. But they just simply contacted me through Scott, which was easy enough." {PKD interview with Richard Lupoff}


Phildickian: A HANDFUL OF DARKNESS, Gregg Press, 1978, Ex-Lib. VG+. $200

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