Attention, Earthlings! This is Captain Blastoff, coming to you from the Galaxy Gallery in the future, talking about a great popular art form of the past: Cheap Science Fiction Paperback Book Covers!
This transmission I present TWO covers from Golden Age great, Poul Anderson‘s cheap paperbacks:
First, Let the Spacemen Beware! (Backside: The Wizard of Starship Poseidon by Kenneth Bulmer), Ace Double Book 1963
Spacemen land on a world that seems like Shangri-La but turns out to be more of a Forbidden Planet. It would have been a much better read if the surprise wasn’t given away by the title and cover blurb. The uncredited (as usual) cover illustration is much more subtle and appropriate with the almost subliminal red scary face and blue architecture in the background.
I also find it interesting that this tale is somewhat metaphorical of Poul’s own sad, gradual disheartening, over the course of his life, from his early, progressive inclinations. An entertaining planet to visit, none-the-less.
My second pick, and favorite of the two covers, is No World of Their Own, Ace 1955
The title font was pretty standard and they didn’t even bother using caps in the second line, but ya’ gotta love the uncredited artist who represented faster-than-light travel as a stretchy space face!
There’s also a Saturn thrown in there, too, ’cause heck! it’s a symbol of sci-fi, I guess, since Saturn isn’t relevant in the story. The funny, little “United States Department of Astronautics“ memo at bottom was added, probably, for much the same reason, as the future described has Earth past the nation-state phase, though things aren’t exactly Shangri-La in this story either. Both books have heroes that represent the best of mankind’s aspirations, even if Poul, himself, is beginning to lose faith in man’s true nature.
This has been Captain Blastoff. “Keep Looking Up!”