Ansible Editions has long been associated with John Sladek, one of the most unusual and talented American writers of the 20th century. Our ebook version of his novella Wholly Smokes (the last book of any length which he completed) was the first edition in the world, which we followed with the first print edition in association with Wildside Press. We have also reissued all four of the story collections he published in his lifetime (see below), again with Wildside. David Langford of Ansible Editions edited two posthumous books of his previously uncollected shorter work, and in 2020 we are at last able to publish his final novel Puff Love, an offbeat mystery story.
John Sladek was born in the USA in 1937, but from 1966 until the mid-1980s he lived in London. He soon became identified with the “New Wave”, then taking the science fiction world by storm, but in truth Sladek's work has always been uniquely uncategorizable. His work is humorous, satirical, often melancholy and occasionally surprisingly passionate. He is always highly readable and entertaining. His best novels include The Reproductive System (1968), Black Alice, a collaboration with Thomas M. Disch (1968), and Roderick (1980). All his novels can be recommended, but some of his best work is found in his non-fiction and short stories.
His most significant work of non-fiction is The New Apocrypha (1973) a scathing examination of pseudoscience and cult religions. See the Sladek links page for “Science Fiction and Pseudoscience”, a speech he delivered while preparing this book; this outlines several of its themes with characteristic wit. Story collections published during his lifetime are The Steam-Driven Boy (1973), containing most of his celebrated parodies of science fiction authors, Keep the Giraffe Burning (1978), Alien Accounts (1982) and The Lunatics of Terra (1984). Towards the end of his life, Sladek remarried and returned to the USA, to live in Minnesota. He died in 2000.
David Langford edited the posthumous collections Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek (2002, published by the small press Big Engine and reissued as an Ansible Editions/Wildside Press co-edition) and – an Ansible exclusive – New Maps: More Uncollected John Sladek (2019, with a greater emphasis on nonfiction – including “Science Fiction and Pseudoscience”). Puff Love followed in 2020. We are grateful to John’s widow Sandy Sladek for her encouragement and co-operation with the preparation of all these posthumous works.
John Sladek and Ian Watson in Moreton Pinkney, 1980s. Photo by Judy Watson.