Uncorrected Proofs: Part One


These images were chosen not for any intrinsic value or rarity, but because they illustrate different types of proofs, and the variations among the same types. I've tried to point out the interesting features in the supplied descriptions. I will be adding to the image collection in time, and I welcome any corrections and additions to my descriptions.


Click on an image to see the larger view (some on this page are currently unavailable.) Please do not reproduce these images or descriptions without my explicit approval.


[ Part One ] [ Part Two ]



The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
1985 Chatto & Windus

The front cover from the uncorrected proof of the first British and first hardcover edition of Tim Powers' fantasy classic, published by Chatto & Windus in 1985.

Short Sharp

A Short Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson
Mark Zeising

This one is unusual in that it is comb-bound. Zeising is a "specialty press" publisher. I don't know what "Low Resolution", which is printed on the front cover, means in this context.

Bridge of Birds Bridge of Birds

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
St. Martin's Press

The author's first book, and co-winner of the 1984 World Fantasy Award for best novel. The pencil scribbling on the front cover reads "poss fantasy?" Indeed it is; my favorite fantasy book of all time, and a very rare proof indeed.

Kai Lung's Golden Hours

Kai Lung's Golden Hours by Ernest Bramah
1972 Ballantine

First published in 1923, re-issued in paperback by Ballantine in 1972 as part of Lin Carter's "Adult Fantasy" series. These are "long galleys", a fairly common format for paperbacks. Probably very few were issued for each title, and fewer were kept around (they are not easy to display or store properly.) Interestingly, the author's name is misspelled on the label.


Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
1976 Pocket Books

A paperback first edition, this proof is about 12 inches tall. This was not uncommon, and I don't know why such a form factor was used, but perhaps it is the same reason long galleys were used. In any case, it is an inconvenient size for a shelf. Like many proofs, this one does not have any printing on the spine; another disadvantage to collecting proofs. Another interesting point about this proof is that Jerry Pournelle is given top billing. On the published book, and all subsequent editions (and there were many), Niven gets top billing. I'd like to know the story behind this!


Magician by Raymond Feist
1982 Doubleday

The second and third pages of the uncorrected proof of the first edition. It is simply a photocopy of the typed manuscript, with copious corrections written in the author's hand. Mr. Feist says that this was the only proof issued for this, his first book, and that very few were printed. Feist and an avid collector have located only six copies in existence.

Gods & Generals

Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara

The sequel to his father Michael's work Killer Angels. This is very unusual proof because there is no mention anywhere of the publisher. It is simply the bound computer printout of the manuscript, with blank areas for the maps and illustrations. I've been informed that these are the first states of an uncorrected proof, printed before the book was typeset, usually issued to secure subsidiary rights (book club, movie options, etc.), and are hand-bound in very small numbers.

Lost Moons

Lost Moons by Jack Vance

First edition of this collection of older stories. Although it has a boring cover, this is one of my prized proofs, as it is one of only seven copies issued. This information comes from a laid in holographic postcard from the publisher.


A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin
1994 HarperPrism

The advance reading copy of the first edition. This is the only cloth-bound advance reading copy I know of; a page is tipped in at the beginning explaining that this is an advance uncorrected proof, limited to 1500 copies, and distributed as gifts from the author and publisher. It also states that it was typeset from the manuscript, and that the author will (not may) make changes for the final book.

The Big U

The Big U by Neal Stephenson
1984 Vintage Books

Uncorrected proof of the first edition of Neal Stephenson's first book, which was only issued as a trade paperback. Mr. Stephenson refuses to allow this book to be reprinted, although I think it is excellent. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to find an affordable copy!


The Day of Creation by J. G. Ballard
1987 Gollancz

First edition, U.K. British publishers don't seem to produce as many proofs as their American counterparts. As with most of the British proofs I've seen, there are no "blurbs" or promotional messages on the covers.

American Women

American Women Speak by Maria Elena Raymond
1995 Alta Vista Press

This copy is 8.5 by 11 inches, and "bound" between two plastic strips, probably by hand. Since this proof would be easy to duplicate, only the signature gives it any real value.

One for the Money

One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

This is an advanced reading copy for the mass-market paperback reprint. Publishers don't usually produce ARCs for reprints, but this publisher apparently thought highly of the book.


A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin
1991 Athenuem

This is a proof copy for a reprint edition, in this case a hardcover. Although unusual, such proofs are not particularly desirable or valuable.

Phases of Gravity

Phases of Gravity by Dan Simmons
1990 Headline

Another British proof, this was for the first hardcover edition, which was issued as both signed-limited and trade editions from the same sheets. As with most of the British proofs I've seen, there are no "blurbs" or promotional messages on the covers.

Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
1995 Delacorte

This was the author's first novel, and made quite a splash because of the high price Robert Redford paid for the movie rights prior to publication. There was a huge signing event at that year's ABA convention; this is one of the few copies not signed. Note that added expense of a cardboard band ("Believe") around the book; it is unusual, but had been done before.


The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
1977 Random House

The author's first book, an unabashed rip-off of the Tolkien plot. What makes this proof interesting is the full-color fold-out illustration by the Brothers Hildebrandt bound into the center of the book; I've never seen another proof with anything similar (although many ARCs have inserts.)


Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov
1993 Doubleday

What makes this ARC interesting is that there was to be a signed Easton Press edition, so the number-line on the published book goes down to 2 (second printing) instead of 1. Asimov died prior to publication, so the limited edition was never published. As with many proofs (and review copies), this one has a letter from the publisher laid in. There is an extensive quote from Asimov about how he came to write this book, and how much it meant to him. (Name and phone number of publisher hidden to protect the innocent.)

Gallicenae II

Gallicenae Book II by Poul and Karen Anderson
1987 Baen Books

The color image appears to be a simple photo that has been pasted on to the front cover, probably by hand; very unusual.


Headcrash by Bruce Bethke
Warner Books

Winner of the 1996 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback science fiction novel. This was a paperback first edition, and this proof is the exact same size. One advantage to collecting proofs is that modern paperbacks are mass-produced, and so paperback first editions are usually easy to collect. The proofs are not.

Clay's Ark

Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler
St. Martin's Press

A difficult book to find in hardcover, it is even more exciting to me to find it as a proof.

Manhatten Transfer

Manhatten Transfer by John Stith
1993 Tor

This kind of binding, with adhesive cloth applied along the spine, was used extensively by Tor for a few years. According to the author, 76 copies of this proof were issued.


Celestis by Paul Park
1994 Tor

Uncorrected proof of the first American edition. The British title was Coelestis, and except for the added sticker on the front cover, that is how it is spelled throughout the book. I suppose it was changed to make it less exotic to us Americans.

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park

Jurrasic Park by Michael Crichton
1990 Knopf

The advance reading copy of the first trade edition. This has the typical glossy covers, but in this case the dinosaur design is raised from the surface. Knopf obviously knew they had a bestseller on their hands.



Page updated: 25 August 2000