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.