As many of you likely know, the letters on a Linotype machine are organized according to frequency, thus “ETAOIN SHRDLU” are the first two vertical columns at the left side of the keyboard. This famed nonsense term is the title of Frederic Brown‘s short story about a sentient Linotype machine, first published in Unknown Worlds (1942). Several years ago, I tracked own a copy of Unknown Worlds, because this story was one of the very few that blends spec fiction and the world of letterpress. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when Ivy Derderian decided to bring these two worlds together with her brilliant reprinting of Brown’s tale.
This is Ivy’s first book, printed at Wolfe Editions. Her execution is simply brilliant. Printed in Linotype Bonodi Book (created on an Intertype, the Linotype’s successor), she printed it in the style of the 1940′s pulps, including period adverts. From the prospectus:
“Frederic Brown’s entertaining short story about a sentient Linotype, titled Etaoin Shrdlu, was originally published in 1942 in the magazine Unknown Worlds. While Mr. Brown was well known for his science fiction short stories and novels as well as his award-winning detective fiction, it is clear that he knew his way around a Linotype and a print shop.Ivy Derderian, with the help of Wolfe Editions, announces a new publication of Etaoin Shrdlu, designed in the manner of pulp magazines of the 1940’s. The text type is Linotype Bodoni Book, titles were set in Ludlow Ultra Modern. Text is printed on acid free Dur-o-tone Aged Newsprint, cover is acid free St. Armand Colours. The two engravings used are from a 1923 issue of The Linotype Bulletin.”
There is a nice review of the book and quick interview with Ivy here. It is nice to see a great biblio-centric speculative fiction story reproduced as a fine press piece. It has been printed in an edition of 40 copies. Email me if you would like one (or more).
[Addendum: I've reposted this to include a better image and because we are down to the last handful or so of this imprint. I'm pleased to say that we have placed copies into a number of special collections and numerous private collections. Ivy has begun designing her next work and we are expecting great things.]