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 short story collections by, easily, one of the greatest Sci-Fi fantasizers alive today, :Frederick Pohl Turn Left at Thursday, Ballantine, 1961 and The Abominal Earthman, Ballantine, 1963.
You aren’t going to hear my cosmic prattle about the wonderful, surprising, intelligent and often funny 14 stories in these two volumes, Space Cadets. Pohl is pretty nearly always interesting reading and these books are well worth your time. (I’d also like to recommend his entertaining blog.)
Is that an origami space ship at top? And is the pierced eye on the monitor screen a reference to Dali's famous scene in "An Andalusian Dog?"
No, I’m not reviewing the stories this time because my original mission here is to present Sci-Fi BOOK COVERS! And I’m particularly fascinated by the use of abstraction in these two book covers.
Now, a lot of Space Cadets think that Abstract Art means art without a subject matter; Say, just color and shapes. But that is the definition of Non-Representational Art, NOT Abstract Art.
Okay, I see the spaceships and the aliens...but what in the galaxy is that bodacious blob thang they are staring at?
Here’s my own definition: Abstract Art is when the creator abstracts the form of the physical world to represent an aspect of the subject matter in a manner that is somewhat independent of what we see with our human eyes. For instance, you can tell that there is mountains, a spaceship and some sort of TV or monitor screen on the cover of Turn Left…, but they don’t look “realistic.”
We could get into a discussion of what is “real” in Realistic Art, but I don’t want to digress. Rather, I’d like to curate an on-line exhibit in this transmission, juxtaposing these wonderful, and, sadly, uncredited, abstract book illustrations with a couple of paintings by one of my favorite “art history class” fine artists, Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky. (You can see why he’s mostly just referred to by his last name only!)
No, it's not "Space, the final frontier." It's "Some Circles," 1926. (But I suggest a title change!)
No it's not Spacely Sprockets, George Jetson's work place! It's The Great Gate of Kiev, way back in 1928!
You tell me if you think these two famous abstract works wouldn’t work just as well for Sci-Fi books? Of course, just to be fair, we also need to remember that Kandinsky created his abstractions a good deal sooner than the early 60s publication dates of the Pohl paperbacks…
Still, I hope to show that the art on these “pulp, throw-away” book-treasures ARE worthy of serious consideration and should have been better credited and preserved. I hope, in my small way, to help remedy that…
This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.
Extra: I’m including the Galaxy tabloid printing of the “Pingot” cover from a story also printed in Turn Left, just because I dig robots. And I’d like to thank Hang Fire Book’s Photostream for Turn Left at Thursday‘s reprint version book cover. I include it here as it is also interesting and unusual as it is a collage work cover. If you haven’t discovered Hang Fire Books and love book cover art, I highly recommend you visit that site!
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