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Fantastic Books Publishes The Book That Created Alternate Universes

A press release from Ian Randal Strock’s Fantastic Books:

Fantastic Books publishes the book that created alternate universes

Speculative fiction scholar and Fantastic Books editor Darrell Schweitzer has spearheaded our efforts to bring The Heads of Cerberus back into print. First published in the rare pulp magazine The Thrill Book in 1919, Francis Stevens’ masterpiece blends time-travel fantasy, alternate realities, and social satire as it propels early 20th century characters into the Philadelphia of the year 2118. The city is an isolated dystopia run by a corrupt oligarchy, the Liberty Bell has been transformed into a disintegration machine, and William Penn is worshiped as a god. This exciting melodrama is filled with striking images and vivid characters, and for readers actually familiar with the Quaker City, there is the added pleasure of seeing an eerily recognizable rendition of the past projected into a strange future.

Francis Stevens was a pseudonym of Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883-1948), the first woman to be a major contributor of fantastic fiction to the pulp magazines. She published one story under her own name in The Argosy in 1904. In the middle of the next decade, she turned to writing full-time to support her family, and her fiction writing career began as Stevens with “The Nightmare,” which was published in All-Story Weekly in April 1917. Her fiction appeared in the major pulp magazines of the day, and she also wrote several novels.

Following her invalid mother’s death around 1920, she stopped writing. Her last novella, “Sunfire,” was serialized in Weird Tales in 1923. Her fans assumed she had “mysteriously disappeared,” but her disappearance was easily explained: she was a writer who produced fiction only out of economic necessity, and when that necessity was removed, she stopped. She was a popular writer, but producing work at a time when fiction had no longevity: the pulp magazines in which it was published didn’t survive long.

Other than its first publication, The Heads of Cerberus saw one very limited book edition published in 1952, but aside from those curtailed appearances, the book has been more legend than memory. Fantastic Books is thrilled to finally bring the book into publication for the wide audience it deserves.

Editor Darrell Schweitzer’s introduction puts the book in context for the modern reader.

As with all Fantastic Books, The Heads of Cerberus is available from all major online retailers, distributed via Ingram to physical bookstores, and available to specialty shops directly from the publisher. Review copies are available upon request. Cover image is available on our web site at:

The Heads of Cerberus
by Francis Stevens
Introduction by Darrell Schweitzer
$12.99, 174 pages, ISBN: 978-1-61720-939-0

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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