The Purple Pterodactyls

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The Purple Pterodactyls
The Purple Pterodactyls.jpg
Dust-jacket for The Purple Pterodactyls
Author L. Sprague de Camp
Cover artist Vaclav Vaca
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy short stories
Publisher Phantasia Press
Publication date
January 1980
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 228 pp
ISBN 0-932096-02-6
OCLC 5913161
919.8/9 19
LC Class PS3507.E2344 P8

The Purple Pterodactyls is a collection of short stories by science fiction and fantasy author L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in hardcover by Phantasia Press in January, 1980, and in paperback by Ace Books in April of the same year.[1] An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.[2][3] The pieces were originally published between 1975 and 1979 in the magazines The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fantastic, Escape!, and Fantasy Crossroads.

The book collects the author's fifteen tales of ensorcelled financier W. Wilson Newbury, an ordinary man continually encountering extraordinary situations. His French wife Denise also appears in most of the tales.

In two of the stories ("The Huns" and "Darius") de Camp reuses the characters of Virgil Hathaway and Henri Michod, who originally appeared in his early stories "The Reluctant Shaman" (1947) and "The Hardwood Pile" (1940), set in the fictional town of Gahato in upstate New York. Two other stories ("Balsamo's Mirror" and "Far Babylon") feature characters recognizable as real-life authors H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, though neither is actually named.


  • "Balsamo's Mirror"
  • "The Lamp"
  • "Algy"
  • "The Menhir"
  • "Darius"
  • "United Imp"
  • "Tiki"
  • "Far Babylon"
  • "The Yellow Man"
  • "A Sending of Serpents"
  • "The Huns"
  • "The Purple Pterodactyls"
  • "Dead Man's Chest"
  • "The Figurine"
  • "Priapus"

Continuation and tie-in[edit]

A sixteenth story of Newbury, "The Ensorcelled ATM", authored by Michael F. Flynn, appeared in Harry Turtledove's 2005 tribute anthology honoring L. Sprague de Camp, The Enchanter Completed. It ties Newbury's adventures in with the classic "Gavagan's Bar" fantasies written by de Camp in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt.


  1. ^ "Although the book indicates it was published in December, 1979, it was actually published in January 1980." –Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 83. .
  2. ^ Orion Publishing Group's L. Sprague de Camp webpage
  3. ^ entry for e-book edition


  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 507. 
  • Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. pp. 82–83.