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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!”

Future Real Estate Bubble? No trouble! But these suburbs are REALLY far from town! Talk about a long commute to work!

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!

Uh, well, except today we look for Cheap Advertising Art that has a speculative, scientific aspect. This first image is from Finkbuilt, a tinker’s journal and a look at life’s debris. While it’s not actually advertising art, it certainly has a salesman IN it…

What’s that, Space Cadet? You thought the title of this transmission was “The Cheap Science Fiction Book Covers Gallery?” That’s true, but I’ve been given orders by General Joachim Boaz of the “Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations” blog to keep a space-eye out for “sci-fi themed ads.”

If you aren’t familiar with “Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations” blog, Cadets, you should be. It’s one of the best blogs going for reviews of media both Science Fictional and Surreal. (And I’m happy to see him including more visual art lately. Here’s to your stellar efforts, General, SIR!)

After you peruse today’s advertising art offering at this blog, go get a chuckle from his “Hilarious 1960s sci-fi themed ads” post. That’s an order!

Stay tuned for more actual sci-fi themed ads.

This has been Captain Blastoff, 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 I present the short story collection, Crashing Suns by Edmond Hamilton, Ace 1965.

I guess Eddie was once a pretty big name in SF. He was guest of honor, along with his wife, Leigh Brackett at the 1964 World Science Fiction Convention, and a reader’s choice for most popular back in the classic days of early SF. He worked on Batman and the Legion of Superheroes, too, so you know this book is gonna be some high-toned Literature with a capital “L!”

Crashing Suns is a collection of interstellar opium dreams by Edmond Hamilton. I mean they are reeeeallly out there! These stories were all published between 1928 and 1930 and part of their charm is the old, twisted science: Creatures live inside nebulas and drive comets (and I don’t mean the cars!) There’s always a sort of “Alliance of Suns” that is solar systems who trade with one another. All the spaceships are propelled by “vibrations in the ether.” You can change the course of solar systems by giant electromagnets on your planet. There’s only eight planets in our solar system because Pluto hadn’t been discov…oh wait, guess Pluto isn’t a planet! Well, Ed got that one right anyway!

Space Patrol Crime Stoppers Tip # 9822: Be prepared for petulant pink bubbles packing pistols!

And the dangers are truly epic: In one a solar system in a neighboring galaxy is sweeping by the Milky Way to attract our sun away. In another a comet is heading for Earth; Another a whole nebula is heading for Earth! And the title of the book describes another danger: another sun on it’s way to CRASH poor ol’ Sol!

But it’s the aliens Eddie designs that will really warp your mind: There’s inverted cone creatures with just two eyes and multiple tentacles, for instance. A plant race, an insect race, a crustacean man, a metal man and a heavy-duty buddy that has four arms and four legs. (I think he should have designed for the Masters of the Universe toy line!)

There’s the pink bubble creatures you see on the cover. They pop if you even look at them too hard and all their jellied guts come out!

Then there’s the liquid creatures who live on flat worlds that orbit inside the comet they drive through space. Sometimes they get out of their comet driving square rockets. (Shades of the Borg!) What I really like about them is that, when it’s night, they all ooze together into a big lake of liquid zzzzs!

But the creepiest are probably the eyeless creatures with no heads but flap ears, flap arms and flap legs that live in the “black cloud where light vibrations simply don’t exist,” in the center of the galaxy. Hamilton’s description of the plight of the heroes who get pulled into that dark world is truly nightmarish and claustrophobic. As cartoonish as the situation was, it still gave me the creeeeeps!

These are essentially pulp adventure stories but I love the imagination that went into the creation of the alien worlds and the life forms that inhabit them! I wish I had covers depicting each and every one!!

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Extra: Here’s the cover, also of I Soli che si Scontrano (Italian version of Crashing Suns, Translator: Ugo Malaguti). Guess we can count this as yet another “Alien Abstract” cover? And be sure and check out the Masters of the Universe link…

Some spicy meatballs...

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.

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.)

Book cover

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.

book cover

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!)

painting

No, it's not "Space, the final frontier." It's "Some Circles," 1926. (But I suggest a title change!)

painting

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!

tabloid

How robots get ahead...by getting a head...

paperback

A cosmic collage for a consistently cool creator...

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.

Shigeru Komatsuzaki's Solar City

Solar City: Big fun under the sun!

Boat car by Shigeru Komatsuzaki

Chicks dig a cool, convertible boat-car!

Shigeru Komatsuzak Moon Line

"One of these days, Alice...Pow! Right to the MOON!"

UnderseaTunnel

This train's in a tunnel under the sea! But, better than that: It's got ginchy fins!

Attention, Earthlings! This is Captain Blastoff, coming to you from the Galaxy Gallery in the future.

In this transmission, Sci-Fi from a different source than usual: The images are from a Japanese artist known as Shigeru Komatsuzaki, an artist who has a number of images online, but there seems to be very little information about him. The reason I picked these images was because they represent, so well, the dream of a society working together to advance themselves.

A few days ago, I was talking with an artist friend, Karine Swenson, who traversed space/time to come to the Mystic Moon Base and view my Galaxy Gallery art acquisitions by another artist, Rik Livingston, who posts this blog from my transmissions.

She happened to mention that I had a lot of retro looking art and, without thinking about it, I said, “Yeah, I like the vintage stuff. They imagined a great future back then.

After she left, I realized what I had said: I like the vision of the future more from images created in past decades than the ones created in your early 21st century. In the period that is “now” for you, when I walk past a shelf with sci-fi (or any!) DVD rentals, the color scheme is over whelmingly a distressed dark blue, gray and black with splats of red. You don’t have to be a color psychologist to realize this represents depression and violence.

In your present, no one can seem to imagine a future will be brightly colored. Well, except for a few, very political people in the Bible Belt and they only believe Earth will be happy after it’s practically destroyed. (I don’t want to turn this into a religious discussion, but, since I live in the future, I’ll just drop the hint that there is more ways to translate that last book of the Bible than what the televangelists tell you and that, if you believe in something enough it will come true; It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy!)

Creative thinking seems in short supply. For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. If you’re just doing what you are told, without even questioning, or looking into other ways of thinking for verification, are you really even living? I will keep bringing you more past visions of the future, in the hopes that they will nudge your imagination and free YOU to think for yourself and create your OWN dreams in the future!

So, this has been Captain Blastoff , with renewed purpose now, ending transmission! Keep looking ahead and “Keep Looking UP!

Next transmission: Back to those crazy paperback covers!

Extra: Check out another WordPresser with equally imaginative, but different, Komatsuzaki jpgs

MerlinsMirror

Verily, 'twas a super scientifically sorcerous saga!

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 TWO covers from the cheap paperbacks of the Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Andre Norton, née Alice Mary Norton:

I transmit my analysis of these paperback art treasures to Rik Verlin Livingston who posts them on the internet. Recently, one of his own artworks, Merlin at Home, was picked as Moderator’s Choice at that fine SF/Fantasy art site, Elfwood. To celebrate, I first peruse Merlin’s Mirror, Daw 1975.

I wish my copy of the wonderful cover art by Jack Gaughan didn’t have slight bends on it. Oh well, an aged look is appropriate to this subject matter, or, maybe, just pretend they are stray wisps of white, eldritch energy? I really like the way Gaughan’s composition flows. It’s simplicity has a medieval quality that I enjoy much more than mere realism. Oh yes, and that’s one fierce dragon; Just look at it’s face.

The story is equally enjoyable, bringing secret, sci-fi elements to this unique retelling of the Arthurian legend. I recommend it.

Our second cover comes from Eye of the Monster, Ace 1962

Cover artist uncredited. This is another one where the monster on the cover doesn’t match the description inside – something that happens quite a bit in this art form – but, hey! it’s a good toothy, giant bat, anyway . The story’s got cat-people and croc-people and it’s a real page turner, with little characterization but lots of action, monsters and “bounding” land rover vehicles in a jungle-world setting!

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

Eye of the Monster

This jungle will drive ya' BATTY, blast it!