Tag Archive: Andre Norton


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.

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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.

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!