Tag Archive: humor


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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Attention, 21st century Earthlings! This is Captain Blastoff, coming to you from the Galaxy Gallery in the future, with news about a little known competition that just occured in your little corner of the 21st century: The Science Fiction/Fantasy Hairdos Awards! And here are the winners:

Honorable Mention goes to Elsa Lanchester for her electrifying beehive in "Bride of Frankenstein!" (Applause)

Third place goes to Wolverine for his pointy...uh, wolverine ears...haircut? (Applause)

Second place goes to Princess Leia for her cute buns...(Applause)

...and FIRST PLACE goes to the gambler on the cover of "The Deadly Sky" by Doris Piserchia, (DAW Books, 1983) as painted by Kelly Freas. (Enthusiastic Applause!!!) This "Preliminary Painting Original Art" just went for only $334.60 on Heritage Auctions (ha.com). Guess they got some real effective hair gel in Doris' utopian city of Emera, huh?

This has been Captain Blastoff, 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: Cheap Science Fiction Paperback Book Covers!

This transmission Ace Double Book D-255, “Star Ways” /”City Under Sea.” (1956)

First, “Star Ways” by our perpetually featured pal, Poul Anderson:

I kind'a wonder just how useful kilts are low gravity situations? Does he worry about a "Marilyn Monroe moment" with his skirt rising?

The first book in the Psychotechnic League series, available under the title “The Peregrine” AND on Kindle, but you are really missing out if you don’t get the wonderful Ace Double Book version with the Ed Emshwiller “space kilt” cover. Gives new meaning to the term “getting your space legs,” I’m thinking…

The 1978 artist panned up and lost that kool kilt in his upward tilt.

I’m including the cover of a kiltless, later version. Just doesn’t have that same uniqueness, does it? (Mr. Emshwiller was a multi-talented guy, by the way, with a number of pioneering experimental films to his credit.)

All you Space Cadets out there may remember my earlier transmission, “Perplexed Poul’s Paradises Lost,” where I wrote of “Poul’s own sad, gradual disheartening, over the course of his life, from his early, progressive inclinations.” In “Star Ways,” poor Poul, once again creates a really believable near-Utopia, only to have his characters kill, die and lose loved ones to ESCAPE from paradise because of a vaguely described desire for strife and discord. HUH?

This is an image INSIDE the starship Peregrine, built for life wandering the star ways...

Sorry, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott of the Statship Enterprise, but Joachim, Captain of the Starship Peregrine, had that "cosmic-kilted" look long before y'all!

I don’t want to give away too much of this book, as I consider it recommended reading, but the “flight from utopia” I described even seemed somewhat rushed and abrupt, as if Poul just HAS to get away from any peaceful haven he creates. This instantaneous souring of milk-and-honey was also really noticeable in the earlier reviewed “Let the Spacemen Beware!

Makes me wonder if Mr. Anderson didn’t have some traumatic disheartening in his past?

Anyway, don’t think that keeps me from giving this book a special Captain Blastoff posthumous commendation and virtual decoder ring. Poul creates three believable societies in this book and I enjoyed “living” in all three during this great adventure. One of the societies was a future Earth. To give you an idea how Terrian civilization evolves in this future fable, here’s how they describe art:

“Art is a form of communication. Communication is the conveyance of information. Information is a pattern of space-time, distinguished by rules of selection from the totality of possible arrangements of the same constituents, and thus capable of being assigned a meaning. Meaning is the induced state of the…” well, you get the idea!

A later, more "fantasy" cover that's not really consistent with the story.

My second favorite cover for "City..." Not bad...

There were also description of three separate future communities on the B side of this Ace Double delight, in “City Under The Sea” by that prolific pen-pusher, Kenneth Bulmer. But these were all “water worlds.” “Aqua-culture,” underwater farming, has become big business in order to feed the over-populated planet. And where corporations and big business goes, can slavery and greed be far behind? It takes an astronaut turned merman to “voyage to the bottom” of this perfidious predicament.

My only complaint about this amphibious agra-adventure is that so much space is spent soaking us with the predictably dreary days of sunken slaves and we just get small cups full of the humans-turned-water-breathers’ hide-out and cool, deep-sea aliens’ “Underwateropolis!” Still, dive in to this book, especially if you can find the rarer Ace Double, Ed Valigursky cover version….but don’t hold your breath until then!

All the hip Mermen wear punk rock glasses! (The Ace Double Book version.)

This has been Captain Blastoff, ending transmission.

EXTRA: Check out this Vincent Price  poster from the movie of the same name (but NOT the same story!)

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'...

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: 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.