Roger Elwood

Roger Elwood

Roger Elwood (January 13, 1943 - February 2, 2007) was an American science fiction writer and editor, perhaps best known for having edited a large number of anthologies and collections for a variety of publishers in the early 1970s.


Born and raised in Southern New Jersey, Roger Elwood started his professional writing career shortly after graduating from high school.

Elwood edited two wrestling magazines, "The Big Book of Wrestling" and "Official Wrestling Guide", on a contract basis in 1971–72 for Jalart House, an Arizona publisher, and regularly photographed matches (wrestling magazines placed a premium on photos rather than text). He became a regular with locker room access at some shows on the East Coast, which might seem to contradict rumours that he had become disillusioned with wrestling when it came to his attention that some pro wrestling matches were fixed. This period produced some fictional confessional stories (eg. "I Killed a Man in the Ring") that Elwood claimed were based on "a blending of interviews." He abruptly left the job in between late 1972 and early 1973, telling writers the wrestling magazines were too much work for too little compensation.

Elwood was published by four different publishers in the first six years as an SF anthologist. During the following few years he would contract with over a dozen other publishers to produce many dozens of individual books and two anthology series, the four-book "Continuum" and two-book "Frontiers". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction observes that "At one time it was estimated that Roger Elwood alone constituted about one quarter of the total market for SF short stories".

Around the time the SF anthology market was bottoming out, Elwood moved on to Laser Books, an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by romance publishing giant Harlequin Books to systematize and regularize SF into a uniform series of novels by diverse authors. He then effectively left the mainline science fiction/fantasy field in the late 1970s.

Elwood's biography on the Fantastic Fiction website omits all mention of his work in the mainline science fiction/fantasy field and identifies him as a Writer-in-Residence (or occasionally a "professor of literature") at a bible college in the mid-west. The biography also claims that "12 of his novels have won Excellence in Media awards for best book of the year", although the Silver Angels award website includes only a general "Print" category, and does not list Elwood's name [ [ Angel Awards website] ; [ search for Elwood's name] .] .


Elwood's significant presence in the genre anthology field in the mid seventies is not without its detractors, whose criticisms range from professional to ad hominem. Many of them are summarised in senior editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden's original essay on Elwood, which was for some time the basis for this article [ [ Original wikipedia essay] (also [] ) by Teresa Nielsen Hayden; also [ blog discussion] ] .

A review of Elwood's 1976 anthology "Six Science Fiction Plays" in the "Star Trek" fan magazine "Enterprise Incidents" remarked that except for the inclusion of the original teleplay of the episode The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison, the book was "another excursion into mediocrity by Roger Elwood".

Market flooding

Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove's historical study "Trillion Year Spree" (1986) says of the theme anthology::"The seventies had also seen the growth of another phenomenon — the theme anthology. A vast number of such original anthologies, most of indifferent quality, glutted the market, to the detriment of writers, editors, magazines, and publishers alike. An editor previously unconnected with the SF field was mainly to blame, Roger Elwood. At one stage, estimates suggested that twenty five per cent of the anthologies on the market — numbering hundreds — had been edited wholly or partly by Elwood.:"The bubble burst dramatically in the late seventies and markets for new writing shrank dramatically and suddenly"

According to Nielsen Hayden, Elwood is best remembered for "the bizarre episode in which he flooded the SF [anthology] market in 1972-1975", which she credits with the collapse of that market.

:"By the time Roger Elwood was finished, you couldn't have sold an SF anthology into the North American market if it were priced at ten cents and made out of Godiva chocolate."


Publishing houses which published Roger Elwood's anthologies:

* 1964: Paperback Library
* 1965: Paperback Library
* 1966: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
* 1967: Tower
* 1968: Tower
* 1969: MacFadden-Bartell (3x)
* 1970: MacFadden-Bartell
* 1971: ---
* 1972: Avon, Chilton, Fleming H. Revell, MacFadden-Bartell
* 1973: Avon (2x), Concordia, Doubleday, Fawcett Gold Medal Books, Follett, Franklin Watts, Harper & Row, Macmillan Publishers (2x), Manor, Rand McNally (2x), Random House, Trident, Walker, Whitman
* 1974: Aurora, Berkley/Putnam (3x), Curtis, Dodd, Mead and Company, Doubleday, Franklin Watts, John Knox Press, Julian Messner, Lerner SF Library (8x), Pocket Books, Rand McNally, Thomas Nelson, Trident
* 1975: Berkley, Berkley/Putnam, Bobbs-Merrill, Evans, Follett, Manor, Prentice Hall, Warner
* 1976: Archway, Pocket, Washington Square Press
* 1977: Bobbs-Merrill Company

Contract timing

It seems likely that Elwood's "mid-70s tidal wave" of anthologies were contracted at least two to three years prior to publication. Additionally, all but a couple of the contracts for Elwood's series were modest one- or two-book deals, spread out over more than two dozen publishing houses.

To quote Nielsen Hayden:

:"Anthology sales had tanked long before all the books came out, so it seems likely they were contracted significantly ahead of publication; potentially, they may all have been contracted for in the early '70s."

She believes publishers were unaware of the situation until the books started coming out, and that this helps explain the publication pattern.

:"Publishing houses that got wind of the incipient debacle might easily have set forward the publication dates of the anthologies they had under contract, trying to avoid having them come out in the same month as a half-dozen other anthologies."


Amongst other criticisms, which she suggests "are more conjectural, but not easily dismissed", Nielsen Hayden nominates "the quality of the books themselves". She describes Elwood's theme anthologies as "carelessly edited" and "low-grade", although she allows that "some of Elwood's collections were quite decent," and that "all of them featured some good writers and good stories."


Elwood is reported to have underpaid authors [ [ Comment] on Teresa Nielsen Haynden's blog [ Making Light] ] . Additionally, Nielsen Hayden discusses speculation about the financial details of some of Elwood's projects "that by all indications should have had generous budgets" but were "peculiarly long on authors who had slight or nonexistent publishing credentials outside of Roger Elwood projects."

Elwood's eight-volume YA hardcover "Lerner SF Library" (1974), with three or four stories per volume, includes stories from three authors whose only recorded sale, according to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, was to that book; two more authors who only ever sold stories to Roger Elwood; and one whose only first sale was to Roger Elwood, but who had the story picked up for republication elsewhere.

SF hardcovers were relatively uncommon in the 1970s and the stories were supposedly original commissions, so Nielsen Hayden believes it is reasonable to assume that this was a well-funded project. Normally the entire advance for an anthology is paid out to the anthologist, who then purchases story rights out of his or her own pocket, retaining any unspent advance money.

Given the availability of experienced short fiction writers at the time, Elwood's choice of inexperienced authors aroused suspicions.

Nielsen Hayden suggests that:

:"an editor who's commissioning stories on a set theme for a premium project doesn't normally buy work from writers who have no track record. Editors know better than anyone else how many people there are who think they can write, and how few of them are justified in holding that opinion."

The "Lerner SF Library" also contains two stories by Earl and Otto Binder, and a third story by Otto alone.Given Earl and Otto Binder ceased to co-author stories in 1955, and that Earl died in 1965 and Otto in 1974, it seems unlikely any of these stories was a commissioned work.

Industry impact

Nielsen Hayden reports that, prior to Elwood's involvement in the market, anthologies and collections were very popular with readers, and were considered by the publishing industry to be "a surer bet than novels." She goes on to accuse Elwood of "singlehandedly breaking the story collection/anthology market". By "wreck [ing] the readers' faith in collections" she says, Elwood "squandered industry credibility accumulated over decades by better anthologists". Anthologies and story collections, she suggests, became "a hard sell".

:"That's made life harder for short fiction writers, who lost their second-rights sales, and damaged the readers' relationship with short fiction. It's been a real loss. Short fiction was always the genre's R&D lab."

Whether Elwood's impact has been a long-term one, as Nielsen Hayden maintains, is difficult to discern from the figures, which point to continuing high numbers of anthologies published annually [ [ Roger Elwood and the Anthology Market] and [ More on Elwood] by Jonathan Strahan] .

While declining to accuse Elwood of dishonesty, Nielsen Hayden suggests that:

:"there are no very creditable explanations for his flood of anthologies in the mid-1970s; that the publishers who bought them would never have done so if they'd had any idea that he was carpet-bombing SF publishing with anthology projects; that many of his anthologies (if not all the stories in them) were well below par in terms of their quality; and that the subsequent collapse of the anthology and story-collection market did long-term damage to science fiction as a whole."

:" Elwood professed to be as surprised as anyone when the anthology market collapsed — an odd claim, considering he'd been a working anthologist for a decade or more — and lightly departed the SF field to pursue other interests."


hort work

Elwood's "Fantastic Fiction" biography claims that he has sold "a thousand articles and a few short stories" to publications including "Ladies Home Companion", "Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine", "Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine", "Photoplay", "Grit" and "Weekly Reader".


*"Alien Worlds" (1964)
*"Invasion of the Robots" (1965)
*"The Time Curve" (1968) (with Sam Moskowitz)
*"Alien Earth: And Other Stories" (1969)
*"The Little Monsters" (1969) (with Vic Ghidalia)
*"Other Worlds, Other Times" (1969) (with Sam Moskowitz)
*"Horror Hunters" (1971) (with Vic Ghidalia)
*"And Walk Now Gently Through the Fire: And Other Science Fiction Stories" (1972)
*"Young Demons" (1972) (with Vic Ghidalia)
*"Beware the Beasts" (1973) (with Vic Ghidalia)
*"Demon Kind" (1973)
*"Future Quest" (1973)
*"Way Out" (1973)
*"The Berserkers" (1973)
*"Future City" (1973)
*"The Other Side of Tomorrow" (1973)
*"Monster Tales: Vampires Werewolves and Things" (1973)
*"Children of Infinity: Original Science Fiction Stories for Young Readers" (1973)
*"Androids, Time Machines, and Blue Giraffes: A Panorama of Science Fiction" (1973)
*"Flame Tree Planet: And Other Stories" (1973)
*"Saving Worlds" (1973) (with Virginia Kidd)
*"Showcase" (1973)
*"Ten Tomorrows" (1973)
*"Omega" (1974)

*"Crisis: Ten Original Stories of Science Fiction" (1974)
*"Chronicles of a Comer: And Other Religious Science Fiction Stories" (1974)
*"The Killer Plants: And Other Stories" (1974)
*"Night of the Sphinx: and Other Stories" (1974)
*"Strange Gods" (1974)
*"Survival from Infinity: Original Science Fiction Stories for Young Readers" (1974)
*"The Far Side of Time" (1974)
*"Future Kin: Eight Science Fiction Stories" (1974)
*"Horror Tales: Spirits, Spells and the Unknown" (1974)
*"The Learning Maze: and Other Science Fiction" (1974)
*"The Wounded Planet" (1974)
*"Dystopian Visions" (1975)
*"Future Corruption" (1975)
*"The Gifts of Asti: And Other Stories of Science Fiction" (1975)
*"Tomorrow: New Worlds of Science Fiction" (1975)
*"Epoch" (1975)
*"Six Science Fiction Plays" (1975)
*"The Fifty-meter Monsters: And Other Horrors" (1976)
*"Visions of Tomorrow" (1976)
*"Futurelove" (1977)
*"Science Fiction Tales"(1978)
*"Spine-Chillers: Unforgettable Tales of Terror" (1978) (with Howard Goldsmith)
*"More Science Fiction Tales" (1978)

Anthology Series

*"Frontiers 1: Tomorrow's Alternatives" (1973)
*"Frontiers 2: The New Mind" (1973)

*"Continuum 1" (1974)
*"Continuum 2" (1974)
*"Continuum 3" (1974)
*"Continuum 4" (1975)

Novel Series

#"Angelwalk" (1988)
#"Fallen Angel" (1990)
#"Stedfast Guardian Angel" (1992)

*"Darien: Guardian Angel of Jesus" (1994)
*"The Angelwalk Trilogy: Angelwalk / Fallen Angel / Stedfast" (omnibus) (1995)
*"Darien's Angelwalk for Children" (1995)
*"Angels in Atlantic City" (1998)
*"Wendy's Phoenix" (1999)
*"Where Angels Dare" (1999)
*"On Holy Ground" (2001)

Bartlett Brothers:
*"Disaster Island" (1992)
*"Nightmare at Skull Junction" (1992)

Oss Chronicles:
#"Wolf's Lair" (1993)
#"Deadly Sanction" (1993)
#"Code Name Bloody Winter" (1993) Without the Dawn:
#"How Soon the Serpent" (1997)
#"Valley of the Shadow" (1997)
#"The Judas Factor" (1997)
#"Bright Phoenix" (1997)


*"Long Night of Waiting" (1974)
*"Remnant" (1989)
*"The Christening" (1989)
*"The Wandering" (1990)
*"Children of the Furor" (1990)
*"Dwellers" (1990)
*"Sorcerers of Sodom" (1991)
*"Sudden Fear" (1991)
*"Terror Cruise" (1991)
*"Dark Knight" (1991)
*"Forbidden River" (1991)

*"Frankenstein Projects" (1991)
*"Wise One" (1991)
*"Soaring : An Odyssey of the Soul" (1992)
*"Maggie's Song" (1993)
*"Circle of Deception" (1993)
*"The Road to Masada" (1994)
*"Shawn Hawk: A Novel of the 21st Century" (1995)
*"Act of Sacrifice: Vol. 3" (1997)
*"Ashes of Paradise" (1997) (which explains how to reconcile Confederate slaveholding and Christian ideals)
*"Stephen the Martyr" (1998)


*"The Dukes of Hazzard Scrapbook []


ee also

*Sam Moskowitz
*Vic Ghidalia
* The book "Science Fiction and Market Realities", proceedings of the conference from an Eaton Conference, ed. George Slusser, Gary Westfahl, and Eric S. Rabkin, Athens : University of Georgia Press, c1996, ISBN 0820317268, has one or more essays that discuss the effect of Elwood on the science fiction market in some detail.

External links

*isfdb name|id=Roger_Elwood|name=Roger Elwood
* [ Bibliography] on SciFan
* [ Excellence In Media awards]
* [ Biography and Bibliography] at Fantastic Fiction

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