Category: Uncategorized


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.

Extra Extra: Bid on this Ed Emshwiller "Science Fiction Digest" cover at Heritage Auction Galleries (HA.com) at this writing. What a great piece!

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.”

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: NOT Cheap Science Fiction Book Covers, but Cheap Advertising Art That Utilizes Sci-Fi!

For you Space Rookies who missed the last transmission, your good Captain is on a mission for General Joachim Boaz to find evidence of science fiction contamination on Madison Avenue. Here’s a few found in All-American Ads,” edited by Jim Heimann:

A "milk run" to the moon? Why not the Milky Way? (Everyone knows the moon's green cheese...)

Here Sinclair abandons their dinosaur mascot, exchanging the past for the future.

This image is by the company, Aluminum From Canada. So, is this supposed to be a giant aluminum molecule, or what??

Yes, in the future you won't have to run around with a cell phone in your ear! Simply wear this stylish Satellite Beanie and always stay in touch!

Believe it or not, this photo is in an ad for an insurance company. Strangely enough, though they mention house, home and auto, there's nothing about insuring my flying saucer! Maybe they could insure that bubble home from the last transmission, though, hmmmm?

On square Bizarro World, Northwest Airlines am NOT wanting your business. No fly unfriendly skies because the Captain fly plane backwards on Bizarro World! This ad am great!

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: Also check out “Vintage Advertisements from Fictional Futures,” where ancient advertisements are mutated into playful parody. I especially like the Soylent Green ad: “You’re Tastier Than You Think You Are!”

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!

Space Cadets: Ten-hut! ATTENTION! It’s become clear to me that not all of you junior astro-art aficionados have heeded the advice I gave in the last transmission. Some of you have yet to blast off for that treasure trove of timeless visuals that make up the Flikr Photostream of Hang Fire Books’ Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery!

So just to give you a small sample of the screwball sci-fi you’ll find on Flikr, here, presented with a minimum of my usual mutterings. is a mini-gallery of covers for you to whet you’re appetite with, before you visit Hang Fire‘s massive vault of visuals.

No, sadly, I haven’t read all of these books. It’s good to know there is someone out there in the ether, even more spaced out than your good Captain on this mind altering art. If he’s truly read all of the barmy books he has collected the crazy covers to, well, he deserves a special Captain Blastoff medal and decoder ring, for sure! When you drop by, tell him all of us on the Mystic Moonbase know he’ll have a great future. Hang in there, Hang Fire!

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

The Souix Spaceman by Andre Norton, 1960, Ace Double Books

The Off-World, Winged Wonder! As in, we WONDER what the artist was thinkin' when he painted that hat!?

The Souix Spaceman by Andre Norton, 1960, Ace Double Books

A newer version without the hat. Not nearly as much fun. Still the juxtaposition of the Indian visage with rocket ships is, in itself, interesting.

That's one city that's really on the move! You could say things are looking UP for them...

That's one city that's really on the move! You could say things are looking UP for them...

And the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson

The first printing of the story. An equally interesting cover, in my opinion...

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 Book Covers!

I used to have the “Ace Single” version of The Souix Spaceman by Andre Norton, in the 70s and I was happy to find and read it again, especially since I happened to unearth it in the form of another Ace Double Book treasure with a cover by Ed Valigursky.

Ms. Norton is high in my pantheon of classic Sci-Fi writers. She often champions the causes of tribal cultures. From what I understand she’s got a bit of Native American in her. We are so lucky that she born when she was and wrote wonderful fiction like this tale instead of being in the casino business…

My only disappointment is that Astro-Indian Kade Whitehawk only wore the red tunic you see on the cover, in the book. No mention was made of that really eye-catching, Hawkman style bird hat! I can envision a great scene where an evil alien Styor jumps him from behind, only to have his eyes poked by the stiff primaries feathers of those prominent wings! REALLY “eye-catching!” A funky, feathered fashion statement that serves to protect ones’ back! But be careful about turning suddenly in close quarters; You could poke a hole behind you, in the wall of your space-teepee!

“Side B” of my fabulous flip book had And the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson, who won and/or was nominated for a few Nebula Awards back in the day. Wow, a whole town floatin’ ’round! This beats Up, huh? It’s also got the cold war, a mayor who proclaims himself king and outer space kangaroos who have tried Australia but settled on levitating Superior, Wisconsin…

A town in Wisconsin? I really think they should have picked a burg in oHIo. Get it? Get it?

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

ReefsAssemblage

Strings, paper and holes in my head?

Picasso Assemblage

Picasso wasn't quite accomplished enough to do Cheap Sci-Fi covers.

ReefsSparkly

Gotta look close to see the sparkly space faces!

ReefsOfEarthHC

This Hard Cover version is my 2nd favorite cover; Captures the personalities of the lil' pugnacious Pucas.

Not sure what this one has to do with the story. Anyone know what part of space we are in here?

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 Book Covers!

This transmission I present The Reefs of Earth, R.A.Lafferty, 1968 Berkeley Medallion.

This is one weird…different…STRANGE book about six Puca (alien) children (seven, if you count Bad John) in the late American West. They are (possibly) part of a space race that is a legend among the Indians. The extraterrestrial little ones make things happen by making rhymes and the town folk better beware…But I don’t think it’s a horror book. And I don’t think it’s a humor book. And, uh, it’s not even exactly a sci-fi book…

When I looked this book up on-line, other reviewers had written “is my favorite SF&F book ever found in 43 years of reading,” “a hidden masterpiece,” and “aliens from another planet with ‘Addams Family‘ tastes” in their descriptions of this story. Someone is even starting a Facebook Community Page about it. And the prices on used copies seem much higher than average, which makes me especially happy that I bought it for a mere 25¢ and in darn good condition, making it still a CHEAP Sci-Fi Book Cover for us to peruse.

Or should I say “coverS?” Because I also found numerous covers on the web, which means it must’ve been reprinted quite a few times. Another sign of it’s cult status? I do like some of the other covers fairly well, but I still like the one I’ve got best. (At top.)

For you that are unfamiliar with the terms, assemblage is the use of objects put together to make art. (I’ve included Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912, by Picasso for comparison.) It’s rare you see a collage/assemblage cover on a Sci-Fi book, especially this early, but hey! It was ’68; It was time for a lot of new things. (Come to think of it, I wonder if the kids are metaphorical hippies, as seen by conservative America?)

Anyway, it’s an unusual cover for an unusual time for an unusual story and I liked it unusually well. So I’ll just close with one of the Bagarthach verses by the brats from beyond:

“The engine spattered him like tar,

And broke his bones and burst his belly.

We gathered Jimmy in a jar.

Hey! Pass the Silly Jimmy Jelly!”

(What can I say after that?) This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: If you like Alien Assemblage Art, make like a hippie and groove on this Alien Folk-Pop…man.