Spirits, Stars, and Spells

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Spirits, Stars, and Spells
Spirits stars.jpg
Dust-jacket for Spirits, Stars, and Spells
Author L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp
Country United States
Language English
Subject magic and occultism
Publisher Canaveral Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 348 pp

Spirits, Stars, and Spells: the Profits and Perils of Magic is a 1966 history book by L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, published by Canaveral Press.[1][2] The book sold slowly, and the remaining stock was taken over by Owlswick Press and sold under its own name with new dust jackets in 1980.[1][3] It has been translated into Polish.[1]

The book constitutes a history of magic and occultism, a study of their practices, and a debunking of the subject in general.[1]


P. Schuyler Miller, reviewing the work in Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, notes that "[t]he subtitle of this book explains its content well enough," calling it "a running account of the wrong-headedness of irrational Man, which seems to make him a natural patsy for con-men." By its end, the reader "will have dipped into the various forms which magic has taken and is taking, and will have been introduced to some of the eminent dupes who believed in it and the successful charlatans and fanatics who hoodwinked them." In fact, his "main quarrel with the book" is that "it is presented almost wholly as a ballet of dupes and charlatans;" he considers the authors "a little too unyielding in their criteria for distinguishing between scientists and charlatans," adding "I have the feeling that the de Camps, rationalists themselves, simply could not generate the same kind of understanding interest in this behavior that they showed in their examination of ancient ruins (archeological and archaeologists), or that Sprague brought to his classic study of lost continents." He views "[b]y far the best" the last chapter, "'The Great Glass Jewel,' which sums up the authors' conclusions about the interrelationships of magic, religion and science." He praises the bibliography as the kind he "like[s] to see ... limited to the references the author has used and to which he makes useful references."[4]

Judith Merril, writing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, calls the book "the usual meticulous de Camp work--or doubly so, since this one is co-authored by L. Sprague and Catherine C." She assesses it as "a fascinating study of magic, in history and practice." [5]


  1. ^ a b c d Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 92. 
  2. ^ Spirits, Stars, and Spell title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  3. ^ ISFDb entry for the Owlswick reissue of Spirits, Stars, and Spells.
  4. ^ Miller, P. Schuyler. "The Reference Library," in Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, v. 77, no. 5, July 1966, pp. 148-150.
  5. ^ Merril, Judith. "Books," in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, v. 31, no. 5, November 1966, p. 63.


  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 134.