Category: Space Cadet


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!

This transmission I present TWO covers and some interior art from Fantasy novels!

I can already hear the mummering in the ranks, Space Cadets: “But, but, Captain Blastoff, SIR! This is supposed to be a blog about SCIENCE FICTION book COVERS! A-and now you’re showing FANTASY covers and even INTERIOR art?? What will headquarters say?

Well, I’ve got news for ya’, you space happy recruits: You’ve just had your security clearance upped!

The REAL, secret mission of this blog is to evolve the brains of the 21st century humans by exposing them to visual wonders and imaginative concepts, WHERE EVER they come from. And that includes fantasy books!

Ugh! Me must save wilted wench from getting her harem costume slimed by Muck Man!

Our first fantasy foray is of Krozair of Kregen (Dray Prescot #14 by Kenneth Bulmer as Alan Burt Akers), Daw 1977.

I’ve enjoyed other books by this author, under his real name, but this one was a little too much sword and not enough sorcery for my reading taste. We did get one monster (who poses on the cover looking like Swamp Thing’s goofy Grandpa) but his appearance was brief.

Dray Prescot, the hero, well, protagonist, anyway, started out this installment as a galley-slave. I was rooting for him when he overthrew his masters. But then he spends most of the rest of the book enslaving others so he can be rowed around as he robs and pillages without qualm. I’ve read quite a bit of heroic fantasy in my day, but I had a hard time caring what happened to this particular conscienceless caveman for the rest of this book.

So why review it here? Because, for once, the art is credited! And we get seven pieces of art in this book, including the cover, all by Ronald William “Josh” Kirby. (No relation to the “King,” as far as I know. Anyone else have info on that?) His interior ink drawings are particularly interesting to me. It’s quite a rarity that, in a cheap sci-fi (or fantasy) book, the art is credited and there’s this much of it!

You can really feel the force of the blow in this masterful illustration.

“Whatever floats yer boat”…In Kreegan you don’t even have to add water!

All good barbarians epilate and body oil before their cover appearances.

My second fantasy pick is Swords Against Darkness II edited by Andrew J. Offutt, Zebra 1977:

A fun “paperback magazine” of unpublished heroic fiction.

Curiously, inside a barbarian fights a giant spider, but on the cover it’s a worm-beetle-monster thing. Guess a regular old giant spider wasn’t exciting enough for artist, “Kman?” It’s got one story with a barbarian having a mid-life crisis and a good Andre Norton Witch World story, too.

So, go out to yer local used book emporium, and buy both books. But just look at the pictures in one of them and read the other one! That’s the beauty of CHEAP, used books, cadets!

This has been Captain “Burly Barbarian” Blastoff, ending transmission.

EXTRA: If that got you in the mood for LISTENING to some good fantasy, let me suggest PodCastle. Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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!

Most of my communication with Space Cadet Rik Livingston, who transcribes this blog for me, is accomplished via esper transmission. Occasionally, however, I visit in person. Have to “inspect the troops” sometimes, don’t you know.

Travel, from the Mystic Moonbase here in this undisclosed future date, thru’ space/time, to your early 21st century Earth, is not instantaneous. I often have time to read a few of the Cheap Science Fiction paperbacks I have gathered for the Galaxy Gallery, while in transit.

The last time I made the journey, however, I was NOT reading sci-fi (Yes, I DO read other kinds of books, as well!), but a very interesting, if somewhat academically toned, tome named Jung, Synchronicity and Human Destiny,” by Ira Progoff, New York, Julian Press. ISBN 0870970569. OCLC 763819.

Of course, the noncausal dimension of human experience is accepted and celebrated here in the future, but it’s always interesting to me to read some of the earlier scientific essays from the days when it’s existence was actually questioned.

Many people aren’t aware that the area by Joshua Tree National Park, in the old nation State called “USA,” is actually the center of the universe. We landed our rocket atop Giant Rock, there in the Mojave Desert, turned on the cloaking device and I made my way, disguised in vintage clothes, to a few used book stores.

It was in Raven’s Books (“Never More, Usually Less.”) that I my eyes fell upon “The Secrets of Synchronicity” by Jonathan Fast. (1977, Signet, also called “Prisoner of the Planets”). Not another scholarly essay: This synchronicity book was in the Sci-Fi section! You just don’t ignore such “coincidences.”

Nekkid dude w/ snakes

Luckily, this is a book dealing (metaphorically only) with concepts by Jung, and not Freud. I can only imagine what ol' Sigmund would have made of a bunch of phallic animals surrounding a naked male!

The cover by Boris is good, tho’ promises a more fantasy oriented read. This is space opera, with rockets and blasters, and robots. Or I should say, it’s a space opera on the surface. The trappings of vintage sci-fi are used as a wonderfully detailed metaphor for the life of the wage slave in the corporate-controlled, money-grubbing times you readers live in. Synchronicity is the name of a drug that gives great luck when ingested. I found the tale witty, wild and the ending very touching. I loved the conversations with the wise snakes.

Devil book cover

The Devil in front of the White House; What could be more appropriate?

The second book I’d like to bring to your attention also deals with a concept by Carl Jung – the collective unconscious. I give you “Out of Their Minds” by Clifford Simak (1970).

Brain like a tree

"'Out of your tree:' (informal) to be crazy or behaving in a strange way." - thefreedictionary.com

In this delightful story, there is a dimension, next door to “reality,” where Bre’r Rabbit, Little Redridinghood, Snuffy Smith, Mr. Magoo, sea serpents and the Prince of Darkness himself, the Devil, all live…and it seems they have a gripe with us and the poor quality of recent additions to the folklore of humans.

This book would make an excellent movie, using a combination of live action and animation. It’s terrific fun!

I’m including a few of it’s covers, but I’d like to point out the one I have, in particular: the Berkeley Medallion Edition, 1970. Herbert Norton Rogoff created this very detailed illustration, featuring Mickey Mouse, Dracula, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Nancy, etc. etc. It’s a shame, really, that so wonderful an image had to be reproduced on such a small “canvas,” so I’m scanning a close up shot of the artwork, instead of the whole book.

Water color

A special Captain Blastoff virtual medal and decoder ring if you can name all the literary, comics and folk characters on this nicely done, water-color cover!

Extra: Why does our folklore in your current times seem so shallow and “surfacey” in comparison to the planet’s cultural rich heritage? I’m convinced it is because so much of it is corporate controlled. Check out the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” for more information.

A Mindscape? My least favorite of the different printing's covers, tho' it's not horrible. You can tell this was a popular book, I guess, by the number of printings it went thru'...