Two-fisted book

If you have a spare $US225 sitting in your bank account and don’t have any particular use for it, you could write a check, pop it in an envelope and send it off to Centipede Press to get a copy of their latest title, Two-Handed Engine.

For those of you who haven’t stumbled across it, Two-Handed Engine is a 928-page collection of the short fiction of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, in a deluxe hardcover limited edition (of either 200 or 300 copies, the website is unclear) with a stunning cover by the late Richard Powers. You can find more detailed information about here (http://www.centipedepress.com/kuttner.html).

I have to confess to being unsure what I think of this book. On one hand I rather hunger for it. It looks neat, and I’d love to have all of those stories in a single, wonderful volume, though it is very expensive. On the other, I’m a little disappointed by it. Why? Well, Kuttner and Moore are wonderful writers. Their work deserves not only to be preserved, but also to be given a wider audience; to make its way boldly into libraries and bookshops, so that it can achieve the only meaningful kind of preservation that a book can have, preservation in the minds of readers. A project like this one always seems to me to be very self-limiting. Only 200 (or 300) readers can ever have this book, and only if they’re very passionate about getting it (given the price). There is nothing wrong with that, I guess. But, it feels like a chance missed. I imagine the copies of Two-Handed Engine will sell quickly. I hope so. I also hope that someone out there considers buying the trade hardcover or trade paperback rights so that everyone else can have a chance to see these stories, and Kuttner and Moore get that chance of being read. Otherwise, it all seems rather pointless to me.

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