A Scottish Haul

Last week I visited my good friend Mr Anderson and his rather wonderful family in Aberdeenshire. My trip has become a yearly fixture in both our calendars now as is a trip to Leakey’s bookshop in the city of Inverness. We called into the former Gaelic church located strangely enough on Church Street on Thursday after a stout lunch and began the serious business of browsing the hundreds of shelves crammed with books.

Leakey's 1

The building seems to made from books with shelving reaching up to a mezzanine floor (which also houses a cafe and coffee bar) and up to the roof. It’s a veritable treat for the eyes.

Leakey's 2

I was lucky enough to find almost a dozen titles which just had to be purchased, here are a few of my favourite covers;

Imagination Unlimited edited by F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty
1966 – Mayflower-Dell
Cover art by Richard Powers

Bleiler & Dikty Imagination Unlimited

Twilight World by Poul Anderson
1964 – Panther
Cover artist uncredited

Anderson Twilight World

Toyman by E. C. Tubb
1973 – Arrow Books
Cover art by Chris Yates

Tubb Toyman

The Winged Man by A. E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull
1970 – Sphere
Cover artist uncredited

van Vogt The Winged Man

Who? by Algis Budrys
1964 – Penguin Books
Cover art by Raoul Hynckes

Budrys Who?

Beyond The Barrier by Damon Knight
1970 – Macfadden
Cover art by Jack Faragasso

Knight Beyond The Barrier

Then on Saturday prior to my return back to Rotherham, we visited Books and Beans on Belmont Street in Aberdeen which is a coffee shop, cafe and secondhand bookshop rolled into one. We ate breakfast, drank coffee and indulged in a little more browsing before wandering over to the train station. Once again, I was fortunate to find a few more titles to add to my Leakey’s selection and so here are a couple more covers;

The Other World by J. Harvey Bond
1964 – Mayflower-Dell
Cover art by Richard Powers

BB Bond The Other World

The Isotope Man by Charles Eric Maine
1959 – Corgi
Cover artist uncredited

BB Maine The Isotope Man

Night Of The Saucers by Eando Binder
1972 – Five Star (UK)
Cover art by John Cayea

BB Binder Night Of The Saucers

Operation Terror by Murray Leinster
1968 – Tandem
Cover artist uncredited

BB Leinster Operation Terror

Both shops are wonderful places to visit and spend some time in if you’re looking for books whilst in Scotland. I can’t recommend these places highly enough as there is nothing even remotely like them where I live. Let’s hope shops like these continue to grow and flourish in these harsh times as they surely deserve to.

David Pelham’s Hoyle Triptych

Roughly a year ago I had the good fortune to fall upon two copies of a three book Penguin mini series in a second hand shop. Both books were in exceptionally good condition for their age and were priced very reasonably at £3 each. Of course I had to have them and find the third book too, it wouldn’t be that hard – would it? Or so I thought back then. In the intervening period I kept my eyes and ears open for the missing volume through all my usual channels and have been unlucky… until now.

Last week I noticed that one of my larger book dealers had a copy for sale and quickly contacted him to purchase it. I could hardly await it’s arrival, then on Saturday morning it duly fell through the letterbox with a thump and I had another Penguin collection success story on my hands!

Two of the books were written by Fred Hoyle, A professor of astronomy at Cambridge University no less, the third title was co-written with his brother Geoffrey. The stark, sleek black covers are by David Pelham, the geometric design mirroring the contents of each volume. The only colour added was the stencilled name and title at the top centre of each cover. Because of this design, they end up looking more like text books than Science Fiction novels, see what you think.

Here is David Pelham’s Hoyle Triptych in all it’s glory;

The Fifth Planet by Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle Fifth Planet

The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle The Black Cloud

October The First Is Too Late by Fred Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle October The First Is Too Late

What The? #8

An occasional series of book covers whose outlandish design evokes bafflement and confusion in equal measure.

The War Book edited by James Sallis

1971 – Panther
Cover art by Peter Tybus

So, what do have here to illustrate Panther’s 1971 anthology The Book Of War? Four figures – one of which is a skeleton – sit astride giant blue eyeballs which are shooting jagged beams of death and destruction from their retinas. The skeleton brandishes a big machine gun (perhaps a bit too big) whereas the furthest figure is using a bomb instead of an arrow in his bow. The central two beings have J and F emblazoned on their chests marking them out as perhaps Justice and Freedom. Freedom has a sword which also has laser flashes emanating from it’s tip whilst Justice rather feebly swings a set of scales which are great for measuring weights etc. but known to be very poor in long range combat situations.

WTF8 The War Book


“The eyes! The eyes… how they stare. I cannot escape from their demonic gaze for but one moment. The heavy curtains are drawn to ward off their attempts to spy on me during the hours of daylight but when sleep comes, no one can save me. They loom and gape hideously, gigantic orbs all around me, suffocating me with their leering presence. I awake and retreat into the sanctuary of my library with a tumbler of whisky but still they glare at me from the books on my shelves. They are driving me to the very edge of madness itself…”

Only joking! Or am I? Meanwhile, here are eight books which feature the titular optic organ on their covers as proof there maybe something to this story after all.

“Beware those damnable eyes!!”

(Fade to black.)

The Cosmic Eye
1972 – Five Star (UK)
Cover artist uncredited

Reynolds The Cosmic Eye

Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick
1971 – Arrow Books
Cover artist uncredited

PKD Eye In The Sky

Kalin by E. C. Tubb
1973 – Arrow Books
Cover art by Chris Yates

Tubb Kalin

The Mind Cage by A. E. van Vogt
1963 – Panther
Cover artist uncredited

van Vogt The Mind Cage

The Ticking Is In Your Head by Leonard Daventry
1970 – Curtis Books
Cover artist uncredited

Daventry The Ticking Is In Your Head

The Iron Thorn by Algis Budrys
1969 – Coronet
Cover artist uncredited

Budrys The Iron Thorn

Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K. Dick
1976 – Manor Books
Cover artist uncredited

PKD Now Wait For Last Year

The Flying Eyes by J. Hunter Holly
No publication date printed – Priory
Cover artist uncredited

Holly The Flying Eyes

Phlegm’s Illuminated Alphabet

It happened again a few weeks ago. A copy of Phlegm’s Illuminated Alphabet book came up on eBay and I foolishly thought I could scoop it by waiting until the dying seconds before entering my bid. By that time of course, the bidding had gone way over what I was prepared to pay and into silly money territory so I had watch as another copy got away from me.

Later in the week, I mentioned this frustration to my good friend Mr Cafe (who blogs here by the way) and was told that he was glad I had missed out on the auction as he had a spare copy which he would be happy to sell to me for the original selling price. I was ecstatic!

The book was produced in a limited edition of 300 copies back in 2011 and was completely hand printed by Phlegm himself. The front cover is a four colour print with a silver foiled letter A on the front and Z on the rear. Each of the illustrations inside depict one of the twenty six letters of the alphabet in either black ink or a shade of blue, all are meticulously drawn with pen and ink. Phlegm has used some of the strange characters which inhabit his worlds to construct some letters, others are formed using animals, trees, plants and other items.

It’s a beautiful book and one which I honestly thought I’d never own but thanks to Mr Cafe’s wonderful generosity I am now a very proud owner of. It’s given me much pleasure so far and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Here are some photos of the book.

Outside and inside covers;

Phlegm Alphabet Front

Phlegm Alphabet Inside Front

Phlegm Alphabet Back


Phlegm Alphabet C

Phlegm Alphabet G

Phlegm Alphabet I

Phlegm Alphabet N

Phlegm Alphabet X

Phlegm Alphabet Y

The Unpronouncables

I generally don’t have any trouble with the English language but here are five books whose titles I just can’t seem to pronounce no matter how I try. Are there any others that test your powers of pronunciation?

Chthon by Piers Anthony
1972 – Panther
Cover artist not credited

Anthony Chthon

The Book Of Ptath by A. E. van Vogt
1969 – Panther
Cover artist not credited

van Vogt Book Of Ptath

Syzygy by Michael G. Coney
1975 – Arrow Books
Cover art by David Bergen

Coney Syzygy

Phthor by Piers Anthony
1975 – Berkley Medallion
Cover art by Richard Powers

Anthony Phthor

City Of The Chasch by Jack Vance
1974 – Mayflower
Cover art by Peter Goodfellow

Vance City Of The Chasch

An Unexpected Book From Lestaret

I like my new postman, he brings me armfuls of books each morning without complaint wearing a big smile on his face and always knocks loudly if the parcels won’t fit through my letterbox. I’m usually expecting the books I receive but on Saturday, I had a little surprise as there was one in the pile that I hadn’t ordered. Upon opening the padded envelope it turned out to be from my good friend and doyen of the mail art scene Mr Lestaret (who blogs here)

Lestaret Book 1

This is a beautiful little square book measuring around 10cm square with heavily printed board covers. It is bound like an accordion, each outward fold containing a paper sheath inside which is a page.

Lestaret Book 3

Each of the four pages themselves are removable from their sheathes and appear to be constructed from recycled books, fragments of various papers and cloth. Each page has a wonderfully tactile and waxen feel to it which gives a certain stiffness to the leaf.

Lestaret Book 4

Lestaret Book 5

Lestaret Book 6

Lestaret Book 7

The whole book is a joy to handle and look at, the pages are multi-layered so you can see submerged words, symbols and printing like looking into cloudy ice. I love what Lestaret has done here and once again am happy to be a part of his rather exclusive mailing list.


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