Category: censorship


Attention, Earthlings of the early 21st century! 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!

This transmission we examine the multiple covers of “Alien Planet” by Fletcher Pratt.

I bought this book because I thought the naked green boody cover (1973, Ace 01570 PB NF) by “Kirby (Josh?),” was just too good to pass up.

Nekkid Green Girl

Sorry, the story has absolutely nothing, what-so-ever, to do with a comet spurting from the red spot of Jupiter OR nekkid green girls...but whatta cover!

But after I read it, I went on line and found the even cooler Emsh cover (Ace F257, 1962) from Cadwalader Ringgold’s photostream on Flikr. I tell ya’, people like Cadwalader are doing a service for mankind, copying these ancient paperback covers before they crumble. Such gaudy glory should ever be preserved!

Murray Fletcher Pratt (1897–1956) was a science fiction and fantasy writer; he was also well-known as a writer on naval history and on the American Civil War. There was a rock band who took his name and his wiki talks more about his literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders (fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Isaac Asimov) than it does about his career!

just a saucer

Such a tame version after the other two covers, huh?

This is very, very early science fiction. It’s just a step above being Jules Verne-ish in it’s innocence. Not quite like reading steam-punk, but still there’s the feel of an “antiquated future.” An alien, who seems rather communistic, lands on Earth and takes the narrator on a ride to a few of our solar systems planets and then on to the alien’s own, very structured society on his home world. The last half of the book is particularly sociopolitically satirical, as the utopia there is not entirely enjoyed by the hapless Earth man….but I certainly enjoyed Fletcher’s strange and fantastic imagination. I loved his description of the wild “space car” the alien drives, and the world he lives in is a caricature, but still rather believable as it’s described in such detail.

I should add, tho’, that you need to be a fan of a much earlier type of sci-fi story telling. The pace is a bit slower. There’s a lot of attention to details that don’t actually forward the plot, but do add color and diversion, like random events on a road trip to a past future

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: A funny, “Half Read Review” about this book in another blog.

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: No, NOT Cheap Science Fiction Book Covers, but the art of that prodigal Space Cadet, Rik Livingston.

As the rest of you Cadets know, I, Hieronymus Tiberius Blastoff, Captain of the Mystical Moon Base and curator of the Galaxy Gallery here in an undisclosed year in your future, am dependent upon my 21st Century art assistant, Cadet Livingston to transcribe my esper communications into blog fodder. But, lately, the boy has been AWOL!

Turns out that Livingston has been embroiled in a bit of controversy concerning an artwork he created, the Dream Screen, that, while it’s not exactly sci-fi, fits pretty well into a fantasy category.

The Dream Screen

A six-foot by eight-foot folding screen. An homage, of sorts, to Henri Julien Félix Rousseau's "The Dream." © Rik Livingston

I sometimes forget that some socially unevolved lifeforms in the 21st Century had the quaint and repressive custom of censoring depictions of the unclothed human form. You can read about Cadet Livingston’s trials and tribulations in a number of news stories:

The Desert Valley Star (pages 3 &11)

The Sun Runner Magazine (page 18)

And THREE articles in the Palm Springs Examiner:

ONE, TWO, and THREE.

The whole affair also inadvertently inspired a “protest exhibit” at a gallery, The Holiday Censored Art Show.

So, at the moment, Cadet Livingston is under house arrest, but I plan on going easy on the boy, and not bringing about a court-martial trial, as his art has also led to a great discovery, a website that all aficionados of SCI-FIne Art will love. More about that next transmission.

This has been Captain Blastoff, leaving you with this quote from George Bernard Shaw, that you Earthlings should all think about as you head into the rest of the 21st century: “The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”