From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.6, A Mixed Bag Of Randomness

It’s been an unusually quiet stretch on the postal front so far at the back end of last week & weekend with no new parcels arriving to brighten up my dull and rainy days. Because of this relative lack of activity I decided that I should just randomly skim the bookshelves and see what I pulled out. The resulting five books were a very mixed bag as you will see below but all have intriguing covers so the experiment appeared to work. I must come up with a more scientific approach to my method of book selection but I suppose that would end up destroying the random approach which seems to yield some interesting combinations.

And so here are this week’s five random selections from the library of the unsubscriber, feel free to make suitably random comments;

The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny
This version was published in 1973 by Ace Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Zelazny The Dream Master

The World Menders by Lloyd Biggle Jr.
This version was published in 1972 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Kelly Freas

Biggle The World Menders

The Androids by Frank Belknap Long
This version was published in 1969 by Tower Books
The cover artist is uncredited

belknap-long-the-androids

A Tale Of Two Clocks by James H. Schmitz
This version was published in 1965 by Belmont Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Schmitz A Tale Of Two Clocks

The Open Cage by Ronald Hall

This version was published in 1973 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Hall The Open Cage

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe & Friends, Chapter 1

Rev Fanshawe Portrait

Sunday in the unsubscriber household is indeed a glorious day of rest for me. A day of quiet reflection of the week gone past and thoughts of the possibilities to come during the next seven days. I’m in no way a religious man but on Sundays in particular I always try and find a little time to spend musing over the good Reverend and his companion’s works for they bring me succour my friends. They deliver to me hope in despair, pleasure in fruitlessness and above all, a little bit of fluff in the sometimes over serious world of science fiction.

For those of you who don’t know of the Harley Davidson riding Rev. R. L. Fanthorpe, he worked for the Badger Books publishing company as a staff writer in the 1950s & 60s and produced an astonishing number of titles during his fifteen year tenure there under a variety of different pseudonyms. These alternative pen names are brilliant work in themselves, he used Olaf Trent, Othello Baron, Elton T. Neef, René Rolant, Deutero Spartacus, Bron Fane and Oben Leterth amongst many others. He also worked with other staff writers on collaborative efforts which would have their own set of bizarre pseudonyms. His bibliography is a vast and hugely daunting prospect to navigate due to this fact. As an example of his almost superhuman prodigiousness, he penned a total of eighty nine books over a three year period whilst working at Badger – that’s an entire novel completed every twelve days!

So today’s book is one that started off my Badger/Fanthorpe obsession – Hand Of Doom, which was published under Fanthorpe’s own name. Yes it only runs at a slim 158 pages and is never going to be classed as one of the towering philosophical cosmic greats, it’s merely a little slice of guilty pie for me to nibble on when I’m peckish but I’m so glad that I picked it up when I did.

To be honest, it was the title and cover that did it for me after spotting it in the bookshop and the fact that Black Sabbath’s second LP, 1970’s Paranoid also had a track called Hand Of Doom on it. If it was good enough for the mighty Sabbath, it was surely going to be good enough for me… and so it was.

Hand Of Doom by R. L. Fanthorpe
This version was published in 1960 by Badger Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller (thanks to Bernie for her invaluable help on this one.)

Fanthorpe Hand Of Doom

An Anthology Of Anthologies (Part Four)

Following the relative success of my three previous anthology articles (here, here and here), I decided to have a further dig around in my collection of anthologies and see what else I had which may be of interest. It wasn’t long before I had a further eight books ready to be photographed and catalogued for this fourth instalment. There were no more Groff Conklin titles lurking amongst the shelves that I could see in the inadequate light (I was sure I had a few more) but fortunately I did manage to slip in a rogue Judith Merril collection with a very bizarre cover plus a rather fetching wraparound featuring a cheeky skull/planet combination.

Here is number four in my anthology of anthologies, do any immediate favourites stand out for you?

Orbit One edited by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1967 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology Orbit One

Orbit Two edited by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1970 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology Orbit 2

Antigrav edited by Philip Strick
This version was published in 1975 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology Antigrav

New Dimensions 2 edited by Robert Silverberg
This version was published in 1974 by Avon Books
The cover artist is Ron Walotsky

Anthology New Dimensions 2

The Year’s Best Science Fiction No.3 edited by Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss
This version was published in 1970 by Sphere Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology The Year's Best Science Fiction

10th Annual S-F edited by Judith Merril
This version was published in 1967 by Mayflower-Dell Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology 10th Annual SF

From Other Worlds edited by August Derleth
This version was published in 1964 by Four Square Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology From Other Worlds

Best SF Stories From New Worlds 6 edited by Michael Moorcock
This version was published in 1970 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Enzo Ragazzini

Anthology Best SF Stories From New Worlds 6

From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.5, Junior Unsubscriber Pays A Visit

After making an idle suggestion during a previous article about the possibility of asking Junior Unsubscriber to pick the next random selection of books for your enjoyment, the thought began to grow in my head. Not long ago, I mentioned that she could choose any five books whose covers she liked for whatever reason. It wasn’t long before my pristinely ordered bookcases looked like a series of incendiary devices had gone off across the shelves.

Not much later however, Junior Unsubscriber handed me a small pile of books and exited the room with a happy demeanour, seeming to have enjoyed the whole experience immensely. After tidying up the aftermath of this onslaught I turned my attention to the pile of selected paperbacks and was quite pleasantly surprised that a non-SF reading twelve year old can assemble such a great collection of book covers without knowing anything of the authors or artists involved.

It’s been an interesting experiment and with results like this maybe I ought let Junior Unsubscriber loose on my library a little more often to see what sort of collections she’s capable of putting together. I do dread the tidying up afterwards however… See what you think of her choices and annotated comments regarding the covers;

A Trace Of Memory by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1968 by Mayflower Books
The cover artist is uncredited

“The man has big writing in his crazy hair and his neck is melting.”

Laumer A Trace Of Memory

A Spectre Is Haunting Texas by Fritz Leiber
This version was published in 1971 by Mayflower Books
The cover artist is uncredited

“This is pretty scary, an alien skeleton who is also a vampire because he’s wearing a cape.”

Leiber A Spectre Is Haunting Texas

Analogue Men by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1967 by Sphere Books
The cover artist is David Davis

“These people are climbing over some railings in the nude but it’s ok because they’re made out of wood.”

Knight Analogue Men

Psychogeist by L. P. Davis
This version was published in 1967 by Mayflower-Dell Books
The cover artist is uncredited

“Someone has done very hard sums on this man’s head, the other bit of his head looks like a machine.”

Davies Psychogeist

Prostho Plus by Piers Anthony
This version was published in 1973 by Berkley Medallion
The cover artist is uncredited

“This is what happens in your mouth at night if you don’t brush your teeth properly”

Anthony Prostho Plus

The Purple Armchair by Olga Hesky
This version was published in 1963 by Mayflower Books
The cover artist is uncredited

“Lots of aliens are crammed into this chair. It looks a bit uncomfortable to me so I’d find another chair to sit on.”

Hesky The Purple Armchair

What The? #13… Stop This Madness Now!

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

Timepivot by Brian N. Ball
1970 – Ballantine Books
Cover art by Tom Adams

And finally, words almost elude me for this final entry in the series. A naked woman composed of a gigantic ear and nose stands in the foreground on a beach where some folks are clearly enjoying themselves frolicking in the sea as a large bloodshot eyeball stares down at them all unblinkingly.

Seriously, I really have to stop this series now before I besmirch my somewhat delicate sensibilities…

Ball Timepivot

An Anthology Of Anthologies (Part Three)

It seems like I’ve spent quite some time writing about sci-fi anthologies over the past few months and I suppose I have, parts one and two are here if you’re interested. Here we are now at part three and I’m still finding interesting collections to share with you. I honestly never realised I had so many anthologies on my bookshelves and I’ve been dipping into them regularly since rediscovering their joys after writing the first few articles. I suppose I’ve come to see them as a palette cleanser between main course novels, a book to pick up and put down over short breaks in anticipation for a main event.

Well, before I get too bogged down in metaphor here is another selection of tasty anthologies to get your teeth stuck into (sorry, couldn’t resist another couple of food-related quips there).

I hope you’re still enjoying this mini-series as much as I am researching the books, your comments as to favourites are as always very much appreciated;

World’s Best Science Fiction Third Series edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr
This version was published in 1970 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

Anthology World's Best Science Fiction 3RD Series

New Worlds Science Fiction, #119 June edited by John Carnell
This version was published in 1962 by Nova Publications Ltd.
The cover artist is Brian Lewis

Anthology New Worlds Science Fiction

The Outer Reaches edited by August Derleth
This version was published in 1963 by Consul Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology The Outer Reaches

Hell’s Cartographers edited by Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison
This version was published in 1976 by Orbit/Futura
The cover artist is uncredited

This fine cover is basically just wall to wall skeletons, I’d think I’d have bought it if it had been a pictorial history of the minor tributary waterways of East Anglia. I really do love a good skull.

Anthology Hell's Cartographers

Penguin Science Fiction edited by Brian Aldiss
This version was published in 1958 by Penguin Books
The cover artist is Brian Keogh

Anthology Aldiss

The Other Side Of The Moon edited by August Derleth
This version was published in 1966 by Mayflower-Dell
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology The Other Side Of The Moon

The World That Couldn’t Be edited by H. L. Gold
This version was published in 1963 by Permabooks
The cover artist is uncredited

Anthology The World That Couldn't Be

The Time Of Infinity edited by August Derleth
This version was published in 1963 by Consul Books
The cover art is credited to ‘Adams’

Anthology The Time Of Infinity

More Joy Of Text

Following a couple of posts about buying books on eBay (here) and then the unbridled joy of receiving them through my letterbox (here) I find myself in a bit of a conundrum as to what to write by way of introduction to this article. The following eight titles are still from that original cache of books I bought online so there’s not much in the way of background here. There are quite a few Richard Powers covers included in this collection for those of you interested in that sort of thing…

I’ll just dedicate this article to the tireless postmen and women who dutifully carry armfuls of lovely book-filled parcels uncomplainingly to my door almost every day come rain or shine. Here’s to the posties!

I hope you enjoy my selection, comments are always welcome;

High Vacuum by Charles Eric Maine
This version was published in 1957 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Maine High Vacuum

Brain Wave by Poul Anderson
This version was published in 1966 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Anderson Brain Wave

Shellbreak by J. W. Groves
This version was published in 1970 by Paperback Library
The cover artist is uncredited

Groves Shellbreak

After Doomsday by Poul Anderson
This version was published in 1965 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Anderson After Doomsday

Seeker From The Stars by James Nelson Coleman
This version was published in 1967 by Berkley Medallion Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Coleman Seeker From The Stars

Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein
This version was published in 1967 by Panther
The cover artist is Enzo Ragazzini

Heinlein Beyond This Horizon

Instant Gold by Frank O’Rourke
This version was published in 1966 by Four Square Books
The cover artist is uncredited

O'Rourke Instant Gold

Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak
This version was published in 1972 by Tandem Books
The cover artist is C. Achilleos

Siodmak Donovan's Brain

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