Category: 1960s


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 Book Covers!

VIRGIL FINLAY, American, 1914-1971, is probably one of the best known of Science Fiction cover artists. Now on auction at Heritage (ha.com) is a couple of very nice works by Mr. Finlay.

Astronauts in an avalanche? You have to wonder about the story line - which is exactly what a cover image should make you do!

One is just described as “Science Fiction Magazine Painted Cover Original Art (c. late ’50s-early ’60s).” I don’t recognize the “rocket in the snow” scene myself. Any guesses what publication this graced? The narrative implied is rather interesting…

An imaginative, radiant and exotic image. Oil on board, 13.75 x 10 in.

The second, and most impressive painting is from “Famous Fantastic Mysteries”, a pulp magazine cover published December 1942. An original copy of the pulp accompanies this lot. Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000. Your opening bid is a mere $3,000.

So much for CHEAP Science Fiction Book Cover art, huh?

This has been Captain Blastoff, checking my bank account and ending transmission.

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: “The Blue Star” by Fletcher Pratt, (1952)

A few of you may remember my earlier posting,Alien Commies and a Future Past all about “Alien Planet” by Fletcher Pratt. I truly enjoyed that work, so when I saw this tripped out, screams-1960s cover with ol’ Fletch’s name on it, I just had to pick it up:

What Libyan protesters see when the al-Qaeda LSD kicks in...Really! That's what Moammar Gadhafi told me!

I’ve got a plentitude of praise for the psychedelic blast of a cover by Ron Walotsky. Peter Max’s got nuthin’ on this painter! And that smoke cat on the back – very eye-catching. Of course, NONE of the imagery was actually IN the book, really. The settings a lot more medieval than Zap Comix, but hey! this was published in ’69, baby! This was one of a series called Ballantine Adult Fantasy that Lin Carter crafted for Ballantine Books and almost all of the covers were great. (Check ’em out.)

The 1981 cover isn't bad. It's probably a better representation of what's inside, but it jus' don't groove me like that fab, far-out '69 version, dig?

I think this 2008 cover was aiming for the "Charmed"/"Sabrina" crowd.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the story near-so-much as the cover. Waaaay too much political intrigue/soap opera and way too little witchery for my (perhaps atypical) tastes. If you like that sort of thing, this has got lots of twists and turns, but it grew tiresome for me. But, y’know, I think that’s just me. Amazon’s got a couple of reviewers that praised it highly. And I particularly recommend the review at Endless Bookshelf for a view that’s different from my own, as well as some interesting info on Pratt, his famous literary group, the Trap Door Spiders, and the Ispsy-Wipsy Institute house they met in. (You’ve got to scroll down to the bottom fourth of the page.)

Oh well, I’ve also purchased “The Well of the Unicorn” by Mr. Pratt, and I’ll be reviewing it here some day, so we’ll see if he gets a “two-outta-three,” anyway, huh?

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: I just have to add one more of Ron Walotsky’s images to this post. The guy had one great visual imagination.

"Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn" by Ron Walotsky (1943 - 2002)