The "Beacon Galaxy" Novels
Beacon 236 Beacon 242 Beacon 256
Beacon 263 Beacon 270 Beacon 277
Beacon 284 Beacon 291 Beacon 298
Beacon 305 Beacon 312
A Galaxy Magazine (digest) Galaxy #8 (digest)
Galaxy 35 (paperback format) Beacon B249
Shown here are the eleven books that comprise the "Beacon Galaxy" novels.
This was a failed attempt to market certain science fiction books as "adults only" reading. They were released by Galaxy Publishing Company as part of a contract with Universal Publishing and Distribution Company (UPD) between 1959 and 1961 as part of UPD's Beacon imprint.
The rights to the novels were in the hands of Robert Guinn, who had acquired Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine in 1951. Guinn was a very controversial figure in the annals of the science fiction genre.
Some contend that Guinn had acquired the business through some pretty shady dealings by using distribution tactics while he was the contracted "printing broker" for "World Editions, Inc.," the U.S. firm that ran the magazine for an Italian Company. He supposedly conspired with the Circulation Director to make the largest shipments to places where science fiction was not well received, such as the Southeastern U.S. Then, contending that the company was failing, he purchased the publishing concern for a mere $3,000 and finally reset the distribution to the places where it should have been to begin with.
The editor was H.L. Gold (who had persuaded the previous owners to hire Guinn in the first place). For his staff, he chose talented authors and editors, such as Jerome Bixby, Algis Budrys, Theodore Sturgeon, Evelyn Paige (Gold's wife) and Frederik Pohl.
Almost immediately, the magazine was profitable. One other publication the company produced consisted of full novels (often abridged) under the label Galaxy Science Fiction Novels, using the same digest format. This had begun with the previous ownership, and that publication was kept going by Guinn. Later, around 1957, they switched to the mass market paperback format for those novels.
In the late 1950's, things started going downhill for Guinn. He spent too much money for another science fiction magazine (IF), and then tried to recover financially by altering the publications' formats and by paying his authors only one-and-a-half cents per word, instead of the usual three or four.
Further, he agreed to publish his Galaxy Novels as part of Universal Publishing's Beacon series, which incorporated some edited content to include "adult situations." The first was a reprint of Galaxy Novel 8, the only re-issued title in the Galaxy series. These last eleven would be the end of the Galaxy Novels for both publishers. Beacon would never again revisit the science fiction genre, except for a couple novels in the later Softcover Library imprint that used the concept of inventing chemical aphrodisiacs.
The "Galaxy Science Fiction Novel" series had previously ended with number 35. The Beacon books have title pages listing Galaxy Publishing as the publisher. When they were for sale, Galaxy advertised them as Galaxy Novels numbers 36 through 46 (in the order seen here), though the books' covers displayed only the Beacon numbers. Therefore, collectors for both Beacon Books AND Galaxy Novels seek them out to complete their runs.
In the end, Guinn sold both Galaxy and IF to Universal Publishing in 1969.
AND ONE LAST ODDITY:
I'll let Kenneth R. Johnson explain this one to you in his own words:
There's one additional anomaly. Guinn borrowed one more Beacon Books number (B249) for an anthology of short-shorts from Collier's magazine. It was a follow up to a digest-sized volume he had issued a few years earlier (it's in my Digest Index under Barmaray). Apparently by force of habit, whoever typeset the copyright page included the notice saying it was a Galaxy Novel, causing endless discussion among collectors as to whether one's collection of Galaxy Novels was complete without it. It was obviously a screw-up, but it is an amusing one.
The scan of Beacon
B249 is courtesy of Fred Meyerricks.