Attention, 21st century 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 the short story collection, Crashing Suns by Edmond Hamilton, Ace 1965.

I guess Eddie was once a pretty big name in SF. He was guest of honor, along with his wife, Leigh Brackett at the 1964 World Science Fiction Convention, and a reader’s choice for most popular back in the classic days of early SF. He worked on Batman and the Legion of Superheroes, too, so you know this book is gonna be some high-toned Literature with a capital “L!”

Crashing Suns is a collection of interstellar opium dreams by Edmond Hamilton. I mean they are reeeeallly out there! These stories were all published between 1928 and 1930 and part of their charm is the old, twisted science: Creatures live inside nebulas and drive comets (and I don’t mean the cars!) There’s always a sort of “Alliance of Suns” that is solar systems who trade with one another. All the spaceships are propelled by “vibrations in the ether.” You can change the course of solar systems by giant electromagnets on your planet. There’s only eight planets in our solar system because Pluto hadn’t been discov…oh wait, guess Pluto isn’t a planet! Well, Ed got that one right anyway!

Space Patrol Crime Stoppers Tip # 9822: Be prepared for petulant pink bubbles packing pistols!

And the dangers are truly epic: In one a solar system in a neighboring galaxy is sweeping by the Milky Way to attract our sun away. In another a comet is heading for Earth; Another a whole nebula is heading for Earth! And the title of the book describes another danger: another sun on it’s way to CRASH poor ol’ Sol!

But it’s the aliens Eddie designs that will really warp your mind: There’s inverted cone creatures with just two eyes and multiple tentacles, for instance. A plant race, an insect race, a crustacean man, a metal man and a heavy-duty buddy that has four arms and four legs. (I think he should have designed for the Masters of the Universe toy line!)

There’s the pink bubble creatures you see on the cover. They pop if you even look at them too hard and all their jellied guts come out!

Then there’s the liquid creatures who live on flat worlds that orbit inside the comet they drive through space. Sometimes they get out of their comet driving square rockets. (Shades of the Borg!) What I really like about them is that, when it’s night, they all ooze together into a big lake of liquid zzzzs!

But the creepiest are probably the eyeless creatures with no heads but flap ears, flap arms and flap legs that live in the “black cloud where light vibrations simply don’t exist,” in the center of the galaxy. Hamilton’s description of the plight of the heroes who get pulled into that dark world is truly nightmarish and claustrophobic. As cartoonish as the situation was, it still gave me the creeeeeps!

These are essentially pulp adventure stories but I love the imagination that went into the creation of the alien worlds and the life forms that inhabit them! I wish I had covers depicting each and every one!!

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: Here’s the cover, also of I Soli che si Scontrano (Italian version of Crashing Suns, Translator: Ugo Malaguti). Guess we can count this as yet another “Alien Abstract” cover? And be sure and check out the Masters of the Universe link…

Some spicy meatballs...

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