(This mini-essay is quoted from Gahan Wilson's Books Column in column in the December, 1999. To read the whole article, please buy the magazine.)
Way back in the fabled sixties and seventies . . . many magical things occurred. The country simmered with a variety of rebellions ranging from mercilessly deadly to butterfly gentle; tie-dyed young folk wandered off from the old proven ways in droves, several men who would have probably led this country in drastically different directions than it has taken were bloodily slaughtered in full view of the press; and Lin Carter-- an eclectic author of many pleasingly bizarre novels and short stories--managed to persuade Ian and Betty Ballantine, the founding publishers of Ballantine Books, to let him create and superintend a new division of the firm to be called Adult Fantasy.
The task to which Carter set himself and which he fabulously fulfilled was to track down and get back into circulation as many as possible of the very best of those glorious and legendary works of imagination which had long since gone out of print and become hopelessly unavailable to all but the most determined and pocket-heavy collectors of obscure wonders.
These paperbacks still exist, though growing yellowish of page and frayed of cover, but since Ballantine was generous in their printings, they may still be located at perfectly reasonable prices to those willing to haunt the dealers' rooms at strange conventions, or contact book dealers specializing in hard-to-get volumes. . . .
I strongly recommend that you instigate a search since Carter's rescue efforts . . . did not lead to a general reprinting by other publishers of such towering giants as James Branch Cabell, E. R. Eddison, William Morris and the like. . . .
Now . . . many years after Lin Carter's heroic and downright historical series, dear old Ballantine Books has decided to launch what it is pleased to call Del Rey Impact which is (and I quote from their flyer) a new imprint] dedicated to re-introducing seminal classics of fantasy and science fiction that have inspired a generation or more of readers and writers." They intend to bring out one a month for starters and then go to a bimonthly basis through 2000.
The only small complaint I have is that nowhere in their flyer, nor in the first book's quotes and cover blurbs is the name Lin Carter so much as mentioned. I must admit that this strikes me as being a little disrespectful and perhaps even a touch ungrateful.
End of quote from Wilson. However, those of us who remember what Lin did for fantasy fiction agree with Gahan whole-heartedly, and if it could somehow be done, would like to remind the new editors at Ballantine/Random House that a little courtesy and respect wouldn't hurt them any.
Gahan Wilson is one of the great weird characters in science fiction and fantasy, and I say that with total admiration. To learn a little more about him, click on the link above.