Tag Archives: paperbacks

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Scenes from the Control Room

(Malcolm Smith’s cover for the October 1953 issue of Imagination)

Inspired by some of the cover art I found for my earlier post Through the View Screen, Through the Window, I decided to focus on the image of gazing from within the control room of a spaceship (either at objects within or scenes outside the view screens).  The trope is extraordinarily effective at conveying the action of a story: the unfolding canvas of an epic battle, the tension of charting a course through the stars and nefarious nebulae, the destruction of cities, the last glance at a beautiful astronaut adrift, or even, Earth within grasp!

I’ve tried not to be redundant in the covers I use — with this Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Scenes from the Control Room

Book Review: The Florians, Brian M. Stableford (1976)

(Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1976 edition)

2/5 (Bad)

Even after the underwhelming Journey to the Center (1982) I decided to give Brian M. Stableford a second chance.  Unfortunately, The Florians (1976), the first in a six novel series about the adventures of the starship Daedalus, is even less impressive.  Both works contain a potentially fascinating premise around which the barest framework of a story is cobbled.  At least Journey the Center maintained some sense of wonder and excitement despite its incredible brevity, poor prose, disappointing ending, and dull characters.  The Florians, on the other hand, fails to conjure Continue reading Book Review: The Florians, Brian M. Stableford (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXX (Christopher + Benford + Shaw + Frank + et al.)

My second batch of books from my youthful haunt (Austin, TX) is equally as varied and intriguing as the first.  I’m most interested in Pat Frank’s famous late 50s classic Alas, Babylon. Yes, a sci-fi fan like me should have read it a LONG time ago.  John Christopher’s The Long Winter (1962) should also prove a worthwhile read — an ice age hits Earth and the English main characters flee to Africa.  Shaw’s Orbitsville (1975) is the the vein of Larry Niven’s more famous Ringworld (1970) and Arthur C. Clarke’s classic Rendezvous with Rama (1972) — explorers encountering unusual alien worlds (in this case, a dyson sphere).

As always, a few stunning covers…  My favorite of the bunch is John Schoenherr’s cover for Mark Phillips’ Brain Twister (1962)…

Enjoy!  If you’ve read any of the novels few free to comment.  I’ve not read any of Benford, Frank, Mark Phillips (pseudonym for Laurence Janifer and Randall Garrett) or Platt’s works before.

1. In The Ocean of Night, Gregory Benford (1977)

(Larry Kresek’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXX (Christopher + Benford + Shaw + Frank + et al.)

Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. XXIX (Dick + White + Harrison + et al.)

A return to old familial haunts yields a heart warming stash of gems and a few radiating a more dubious aura…

And more Richard Powers’ covers for my growing collection….

Most importantly, I picked up my fourteenth or fifteenth Philip K. Dick novel! I will acquire ALL of them eventually.

And another Ace double — little did I know (but I should have guessed considering the egregious art and interior images) that is was sci-fi of the more comic variety.  But, I wanted at least one of Lafferty’s novels after reading a few of his impressive short stories.

Enjoy!

1. Star Surgeon, James White (1963)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. XXIX (Dick + White + Harrison + et al.)

Book Review: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, Joan D. Vinge (1978)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3.25/5 (Average)

The title of Joan D. Vinge’s first novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), is an homage to The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1869) by the turn of the century western writer and poet Bret Harte.  He is famous for his depictions of resourceful women in California pioneer settlements.  Vinge creates a resourceful female captain of a powerful but weaponless spaceship who finds herself beset–with only a depleted crew–by a series of challenges in the decadent, grasping, and fractured pioneer societies of Heaven Belt.  Although the often less than amicable conflict between the egalitarian society with powerful women and the male-focused pioneer cultures could be the focus of the novel, Vinge is less interested in exploring the social ramifications (à la Le Guin and other works of the previous decade — the 1960s).  Instead, this conflict provides a suitable world-building backdrop for a traditional space opera — a bedraggled but technologically Continue reading Book Review: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, Joan D. Vinge (1978)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Underwater Expeditions (futuristic submarines, unusual sea life, underwater cities) Part I

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition of Conquerors from the Darkness (1965), Robert Silverberg)

A cornucopia of underwater sci-fi cover art images!  As always, Paul Lehr’s covers are among my favorite for he masterfully renders the green-blue depths and textures of water inundated worlds (especially above, Conquerers from the Darkness).  Watery worlds evoke unusual underwater life, a place fraught with danger where humans and aliens meet, unusual cityscapes (domes, water impervious shields, a plethora of transport craft) and of course, the vehicles for transportation (for example below, the futuristic submarine in Treasure of the Black Flacon and 21st Century Submarine, etc)  evoke the same giddy sense of adventure as when first reading Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) or watching Richard Fleischer’s surprisingly good 1954 film adaptation of the novel.

There are countless films, sci-fi TV shows, novels, short stories Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Underwater Expeditions (futuristic submarines, unusual sea life, underwater cities) Part I

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Domed Cities of the Future Part II

(Deen Ellis’ cover for the 1970 edition of Eight Against Utopia (1967), Douglas R. Mason)

Part II of my sci-fi art series on domed cities of the future (perhaps doomed as well) — part I.

Glass-domed against pollution, the ravages of evil space creatures, the vacuum of space (below: April, 1954 edition of If), adverse climates/atmospheres (below: The Sands of Mars, Trouble on Titan)?  Or, nagging fears that something might come — whatever it might be.  And of course, to keep people in (above: Eight Against Utopia).   Some of these seemingly fragile domes contain devastating weapons (below: The Lunar Eye), or are part of a vast computer network (below: Matrix), or contain the last remnants of a previous metropolis (below: The Years of the City)

Some truly wonderful works of art….  Are any of the books Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Domed Cities of the Future Part II