May 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)
2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)
Recently I procured a handful of Daniel F. Galouye’s novels (here) for a few dollars on ebay because I enjoyed his first novel Dark Universe (1961), which is an underread/underrated classic of the early 60s. In an effort to rekindle public interest in Galouye’s small ouvre (he died at 54 due to war injuries and was unable to write much in the last ten years of his life), he received the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2007. Unfortunately, Galouye’s fast-paced sci-fi thriller A Scourge of Screamers (variant title: The Lost Perception) does not measure up to the claustrophobic and well-plotted social rumination (with a good dose of action) that is The Dark Universe.
The most redeeming feature is Paul Lehr’s harrowing depiction of mental anguish « Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Skyport (1959), Curt Siodmak)
Part II of my series on cover art depicting space stations (Part I). Here are vast assortment of primarily Alex Schomburg and Vincent Di Fate’s artwork — they did love their space stations. But, I think my favorite is by far Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Curt Siodmak’s Skyport (1959) — the author is of course famous for the novel Donovan’s Brain (1942). The delightful color scheme, the 50s aesthetic, the vague indication of continents below, the cluster of « Read the rest of this entry »
March 25, 2013 § 11 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
Kate Wilhelm, famous for her Hugo-winning masterwork Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976), started her writing career with more modest works. The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963) collects some of her earliest short stories from the late 50s and a few written for the collection in the early 60s — Clone, her first novel, co-written with Theodore L. Thomas would come out in 1965. However, her best sci-fi was published in the late 60s to the mid-70s. Before then her work tended to be straight-forward with an occasional interesting idea or poignant scene but generally unremarkable….
Three stories are worth reading in this collection: an early work of feminist science « Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2013 § 35 Comments
(Robert E. Schulz’s cover for the 1966 edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
After reading Joanna Russ’ nihilistic downer (but brilliant nevertheless) We Who Are About To… (1976) I needed to decompress with some 30s pulp. I’m generally not a fan of pulp unless it attempts to integrate social science fiction elements or creates a vibrant/otherworldly sense of wonder. Thankfully, this collection of Stanley G. Wienbaum’s stories contains one of the most influential pulp science fiction shorts due to its descriptions of aliens — ‘A Martian Odyssey’ (1934).
For anyone interested in the history of the genre and 30s pulp, « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Composite Cover (illustrating a multiplicity of scenes, stories, thematic elements)
January 27, 2013 § 24 Comments
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1954 edition of Murder in Space (1944), David V. Reed)
Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1954 edition of Murder in Space (1944) perfectly embodies the composite cover comprised of sequences from the narrative. Our hero (or villain) plots the murder in the foreground (guns, books, furrowed brow), commits the murder in the background, his love interest looks over his left shoulder (she’s constantly on his mind), and some random astroids/planets (let’s call them space rocks), a spaceship, and a strange piece of technology alert us to the science fiction aspect of the narrative… The uncredited cover for the 1955 edition of The Altered « Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2012 § 20 Comments
Finally getting near the end of the pile of science fiction novels procured during my latest journey to Texas (a few were in clearance dollar bins) + gifts from 2theD. I know very little about any of the authors (any info would be read with relish) — and I even bought a book from the early 1980s! I know, shocker, but it has to do with drowned cities…. one of my favorite themes…. although it’ll never equal the uterine joys of Ballard’s magisterial The Drowned World (1962).
1. Under the City of Angels, Jerry Earl Brown (1981)
(Lou Feck’s cover for the 1981 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
November 24, 2012 § 11 Comments
(Ray Kalfus’ cover for the May 1963 issue of Amazing Stories)
The Easter Island heads have long been explained away by conspiracy theorists as the work of aliens! Apparently there are a few short stories and novels that derive not only their cover art but entire stories from such hilariously awful material…. Regardless, the covers are giggle inducing, and in the case of the uncredited cover for William Tenn’s Of All Possible Worlds (1955) rather striking. I’ve included one cover from the 40s, an Arkham house novel that might be more “horror” than “sci-fi.” Regardless, the idea that the Easter Island heads evoke dread, is well, laughable.
If you know of any others please let me know — I could only round up these five « Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2012 § 6 Comments
My Austin, TX haul….
Two classics I’ve yet to read: Budrys’ Who? (1958) and Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970)… The second in a trilogy by John Brunner, The Avengers of Carrig (1969) — the first, Polymath (first published in 1963 but expanded in 1974) was a readable Brunner pulp.
I’ve never enjoyed Bova’s novels, but I impulsively picked up As on a Darkling Plain (1972), perhaps influenced by the Ellis’ cover.
1. Who?, Algis Budrys (1958)
(Robert V. Engel’s cover for the 1958 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spacewomen of the Future (fixing spaceships + fighting aliens + charging across barren landscapes)
September 12, 2012 § 28 Comments
(Don Sibley’s cover for the November 1950 issue of Galaxy)
When we conjure the image of a 40s/50s science fiction pulp heroine we often imagine a character who has to be rescued by men from aliens, shrieks and clings to any man nearby, and is always in a state of undress. I’ve included one cover, for the sake of comparison, that I find to be an exemplar of this type of sexist (and racist) depiction below (Alex Schomburg’s cover for the January 1954 issue of Future Science Fiction): white woman wrapped in only a towel stalked by an evil alien obviously painted with African-American facial characteristics (heavy on the sexual predation vibe) — the reader is supposed to buy into the racial stereotypes and thus be titillated by the fear she must feel.
I’ve selected a wide range of mostly pulp magazine covers depicting spacewomen of the future (I’ve loosely decided that this means women in space, in spacesuits) that tend to buck the trend « Read the rest of this entry »