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An Etaoin Shrdlu Limited Edition

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One of the cool benefits about being in the science fiction blog-o-sphere is meeting people who really, REALLY love the things they read. This is no more apparent than in the very interesting email I received a few weeks ago from a woman who said that she had reprinted (with permission) a fine press edition of Fredric Brown’s short story “Etaoin Shrdlu.” I’ll admit that at first I was a bit put off, thinking I was getting a sneaky sales pitch, but the more I corresponded with Ivy the more I realized that this book was an incredible labor of love brought about by nothing more than one person’s love of a short story! She eventually sent me some pictures of her limited edition book, and I must say that it is impressive.

Just so you know, I have never read this particular story, and don’t know much about it (you can, however, learn more about the phrase “Etaoin Shrdlu” at Wikipedia.) Also, I am not associated with Ivy at all, I just thought this book was an amazing project for one person to undertake, so I agreed to share it with my readers.

Etaoin Shrdlu front cover

Anyway, I asked Ivy a little bit about herself and how she came to print this particular story, here is what she had to say:

“I’ve been working in a letterpress shop part time for more than 5 years now, have a degree in graphic design and this is my first publication on my own.

One night last winter I went off on a google search about something related to letterpress. I don’t remember what now. I wound up discovering that this story existed, tracked it down in a collection of Fredric Brown’s short stories, ordered it from Amazon, read it and decided I had to re-print it. The books we’ve done in the print shop have been my favorite projects (who gets to make a book with their own hands from liquid metal to bound pages anymore? not so many of us) and I loved the irony of setting a story about a Linotype on a Linotype (well, an Intertype; an improvement). I thought printers and type people would really enjoy the story. And then I was made aware of all the lovers of science fiction, and here we are.”

Etaoin Shrdlu page 1

From the back cover:

“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.”

Etaoin Shrdlu page 6

The book measures 7 x 10 inches, has 13 pages and is limited to 40 hand signed copies. So, to answer Ivy’s question, “who gets to make a book with their own hands from liquid metal to bound pages anymore?” Practically no one. But if you are interested in owning a book like that you can email Ivy at ivyd AT earthlink DOT net.

You can also find “Etaoin Shrdlu.” in the collection From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown .

3 thoughts to “An Etaoin Shrdlu Limited Edition”

  1. I had the immense pleasure of hearing the “Story behind the Story” of how this limited edition has come about, in person from Ivy herself, just this week. You are spot on. It is a labor of love and a love of the irony of this short story. Ivy’s passion for the craft is clearly evident;the work is nothing less than superb. This limited edition is a must have for sci-fi geeks and letterpress fans. A rare handcrafted gem in todays modern realm.

  2. Susan, thanks for sharing your insights! It is nice to know that other people were amazed by Ivy’s efforts as well.

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