Sturgeon’s mid-century review of Eddison’s Worm Ouroboros


Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2010
A review by Theodore Sturgeon, probably in a magazine rather than a fanzine, of Eddison’s classic fantasy put a veteran reader onto the book. The review appeared in the 1950s or maybe very early 1960s, but definitely years before Ballantine’s late-1960s reprint. The review might have been of the 1952 “Xanadu Library” paperback.

Can anyone help me to get hold of this review? A good citation might suffice for me to get it through inter library loan, but ILL might not be able to access sff mags from that long ago, nor fanzines.

I really tried!

Got curious myself, and who knows, that review might have put me on to something I haven't read.

Checked all the places you probably already checked in searches: ISFDB on both authors, Web Archives of his story collections; a scattered smattering of old magazines on Web Archive; the Kenneth Spencer Research Library that has a donation of Sturgeon's papers....

This last resource has a typed letter from L. Ron Hubbard to Sturgeon. It is frustrating that apparently you have to go to that library and pull out the actual paper to read it, with no photograph or transcript. It would have to be delightfully weird -- it's by the same person who dreamed up Xenu flying frozen dead aliens to the volcanoes of Teegeack (Earth) in rocket-engine DC-8s and having their souls get indoctrinated in 3D theaters and then fly around and attach to Earth humans, as so well portrayed in South Park.

Lots of reviews of Sturgeon, but not the review by Sturgeon that you seek. So far, anyway.
I've checked the ISFDB indexes for Galaxy issues of 1952-54; I don't find a review by Sturgeon of The Worm Ouroboros, although in a phone conversation yesterday my veteran sff reader-friend referred to Sturgeon's review as having appeared in that magazine. I did find, however, that Groff Conklin reviewed Eddison's fantasy in the July 1953 issue. That issue is scanned at The review is brief but enticing (see below). It might be that my friend was simply mistaken in thinking the review was by Sturgeon. Or it might be that he did read a review by Sturgeon of The Worm Ouroboros, but it wasn't published in Galaxy. Or it might be that it's in an issue I haven't checked yet. Anyway, this is a progress report.

There seems to be no question that the review was of the 1952 Dutton hardcover reissue.
Well, no wonder I never found it!

And now, that one is no longer nor more compelling than one I found while looking for a review by Sturgeon.

When looking, I did find a one-paragraph review by Damon Knight, initialed "D.K." as one of the editors.

With an afternote by Robert Lowndes saying he'll have to drop in on Damon and find a way of getting Damon's copy of Ouroboros.
Ravensquawk, that is a great find for this enterprise, and I mean to share it with my veteran-reader friend.

The magazines and fanzines of the time were of great importance for questing readers, especially young ones just getting into the genre(s). In such ways they learned about what there was.

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