Ace On Sunday #20

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The last time I shared my Ace On Sunday read it was serial number F-199, today I’m flipping over the book to enjoy the second novel contained in this omnibus – The Psionic Menace by Keith Woodcott. This is an author I was wholly unfamiliar with and so I did a little digging around to find out more information. It turns out that our mysterious Mr Woodcott is actually a pseudonym for the much more widely known John Brunner whom I enjoy very much.

Let’s open the cover and check out what’s in store via the blurb;

Must the universe die with them?

The Starfolk, arrogant masters of vast stretches of the cosmos beyond the Earth’s sphere of influence, were determined to complete the extermination of the mind reading mutants on Regnier’s planet.

But to the mutants themselves, the terror of the Starfolk was nothing compared to the greater dread that gripped their spirits – the obsession that the universe itself was doomed. This obsession ripped into their minds, overwhelmed them, and plunged them into horrifying hysteria.

The message of doom reached the ears of the Starfolk themselves, forcing them to a fateful decision. They would allow an Earthman, archeologist Philip Gascon, to visit Regnier in an attempt to unravel its secrets. What he found would either contain the key to the ultimate destiny of the universe – or the date of doomsday.

The cover of the book features a fantastic Emsh piece featuring three or Regnier’s mutants clad in matching shiny black outfits complete with spiked helmets. They appear to be holding down our hero Philip Gascon in an attempt to insert his face into some kind of shiny black contraption of torture. I think it all looks a little S&M to be honest…

Must find out how Mr Gascon overcomes these fetishistic fiend and what fate lies in store for the universe. I’ll be choosing a new book new time so be sure follow and watch for those notifications arrive in your mailbox. Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

The Psionic Menace by Keith Woodcott
(Serial Number F-199)
This version was published in 1963 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller

The Psionic Menace by Keith Woodcott.png

 

Ace On Sunday #19

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Before I introduce today’s reading companion, I must apologise for my recent lack of activity here at unsubscribedblog. There has been a lot going on recently that has prevented me from reading the books I love on a regular basis and photographing their beautiful covers. In October I reach the ripe old age of fifty and have therefore been thinking hard about what the next decade should look like, this has resulted in some readjustments and a pretty major career change. Suffice to say everything is working perfectly after a short bedding in period and so I feel I can return to the twin loves of my life – music and reading. Thanks for bearing with me through this short hiatus, I promise I’ll keep the pictures coming.

Ok, so that said let’s get to this week’s pick from the Ace Double shelves of my library. I’ve chosen serial number F-199, Samuel R. Delaney’s 1963 novel Captives Of The Flame – time to check out the blurb;

The Empire of Toromon had finally declared war.The attacks on its planes had been nothing compared to the final insult – the kidnapping of the Crown Prince. The enemy must be dealt with, and when they were, Toromon would be able to get back on its economic feet.

But how would the members of this civilisation – one of the few that survived the Great Fire – get beyond the deadly radiation barrier, behind which the enemy lay? And assuming they got behind the barrier, how would they deal with the enemy – The Lord of the Flames – whose very presence was unknown to the people among who he lived?

I must say I’m digging the sound of this Lord of the Flames character! Now, onto the artwork – the always brilliant Jack Gaughan turns in another compelling piece featuring three figures confronting a tentacular foe armed with nothing but pointy sticks. That doesn’t bode well in my mind. The main title typography is fantastic too, Gaughan has created each letter using red and yellow flames.

It’s time to find out how the citizens of Toromon get on against the Lord of the Flame now so I’d best put the kettle on and polish up my glasses before I start reading. I’ll be back again next weekend to read the flip side of this book so be sure to join me. Feel free as always to share your thoughts in the comments.

Captives Of The Flame by Samuel R. Delany
(Serial Number F-199)
This version was published in 1963 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

F-199 Captives Of The Flame by Samuel R. Delany

Ace On Sunday #18

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Today sees me turning over the book I selected for reading last week to find out what lies on the other side; This week’s novel is The Twisted Men by Canadian SF giant A. E. Van Vogt. Strictly speaking this isn’t a novel as such, rather a collection of three unrelated short stories which aren’t really short enough for inclusion in a regular anthology. The book therefore contains The Twisted Men, The Star-Saint and The Earth Killers. The inside cover blurb has the following to say;

A spacecraft returns with the discovery that the solar system is doomed. Nobody believes it, but a handful of people decide to attempt the migration to another star system, just in case. They pin their chances on an experimental star ship called, appropriately, Hope of Man.

That’s just the beginning of a spectacular trio of cosmic adventures and mind challenging concepts, which involve the whole future span of humanity and the length and breadth of the universe.

The Jack Gaughan cover painting shows three very stylised figures in the middle of an asteroid field with their arms raised in a bid to fend off the rocks. I love the way Gaughan has depicted these figures, even to the point of making their helmets look like hoods.

It’s time I dived in and immersed myself in Van Vogt’s triple header, I hope that you enjoyed this week’s cover and will join me again next weekend for another selection. Your thoughts and comments are as always welcome.

The Twisted Men by A. E. Van Vogt
(Serial Number F-253)
This version was published in 1964 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

The Twisted Men by A. E. Van Vogt copy

Off The Shelf; Keith Laumer

Keith Laumer Portrait

The next author to come under the spotlight as part of this ongoing mini-series is Keith Laumer who is probably familiar to many for his Retief novels. I first discovered him via a rather tatty copy of A Plague Of Demons which I picked up in a dusty old bookshop one rainy afternoon. I must admit that I bought it mainly for the cover as it was the 1967 Penguin version with an illustration by Alan Aldridge but I did rather enjoy reading it following my purchase.

Since then, I have replaced my battered copy of this book with a much tidier copy and have also expanded my collection of Laumer’s writings considerably. I haven’t included this novel here though as it was featured as part of an earlier article on the Penguin/Aldridge series which can be found here if you’d like to see it.

I’ve become more aware of his output through Berkley Medallion recently due to the fact that a great deal of these publications were illustrated by Richard Powers. They tend to be quite hard to come across being US versions so consequently fetch higher prices once shipping is factored in.

So, onto the covers! I’ve selected eight titles as usual, each one featuring particularly eye-catching artwork. The first four books presented below are pulled from my modest collection of Berkley Medallions for all you Powers fans out there.

I’ll be back again soon with another Off The Shelf selection so be sure to follow the blog to receive notifications of all new posts. Let me know what you think of this week’s covers in the comments too, your feedback is always greatly appreciated.

The Shape Changer by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1973 by Berkley Medallion Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

The Shape Changer by Keith Laumer

The Infinite Cage by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1974 by Berkley Medallion Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

The Infinite Cage by Keith Laumer

Time Trap by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1970 by Berkley Medallion Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Time Trap by Keith Laumer

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad Galaxy by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1968 by Berkley Medallion Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Galaxy by Keith Laumer

Galactic Odyssey by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1970 by Mayflower Books
The cover artist is Josh Kirby

Galactic Odyssey by Keith Laumer

Nine By Laumer by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1970 by Sphere Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Nine By Laumer by Keith Laumer

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

A Trace Of Memory by Keith Laumer

The Great Time Machine Hoax by Keith Laumer
This version was published in 1965 by Pocket Books
The cover artist is uncredited

The Great Time Machine Hoax by Keith Laumer

Ace On Sunday #17

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This Sunday’s pick from the Ace Double shelves is serial number F-253, a book which was originally published back in 1964. The first novel I’ve chosen to read is One Of Our Asteroids Is Missing by Calvin M. Knox – a pseudonym for none other than Robert Silverberg. Let’s open the cover and take a look at the blurb;

John Storm’s return to Earth was triumphant:he was about to become a millionaire. Now there was only the routine job of validating his claim to the asteroid he’d found. But there was one problem – the computer had no record of Storm’s claim And stranger yet, the computer had no record of John Storm. He did’t officially exist!

There seemed only one possible explanation to the nightmare Storm found himself in – someone wanted Storm’s asteroid. There had to be something on that tiny celestial body worth a great deal more than the reactive ores Storm had discovered. And that something was obviously worth the obliteration of anyone or anything getting in the way.

The cover illustration is another fantastic piece by Ed Valigursky featuring a bald headed figure with pointed ears removing his space helmet amidst a tangle of orbiting planets and stars.

This sounds like it has all the ingredients of a decent plot and so I’d best brew another cup of tea, recharge my vape and find out how Mr Storm resolves this strange predicament. Join me next weekend to find out what’s on the flip side and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.

One Of Our Asteroids Is Missing by Calvin M. Knox
(Serial Number F-253)
This version was published in 1964 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Valigursky

One Of Our Asteroids Is Missing by Calvin M. Knox

The Eye Of The Lens by Langdon Jones

Several weeks ago, I read a great review of an extremely intriguing collection of shorts by Langdon Jones over at the always wonderful Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations blog (here). The blog’s progenitor, Joachim Boaz is definitely one of my favourite reviewers working in this area due to his detailed writing style and also his keen eye for great cover art. This book was no exception, not only did it rate quite highly overall but the featured cover illustration for the 1972 version was stunning.

I decided to hop over to eBay immediately and see if there was a copy floating around at a decent price. Incredibly, there was a single auction for the aforementioned 1972 Macmillan first edition in hardback which was due to finish a few days later. I decided to put in a low ’holding’ bid for the starting price of £4.50 as I expected to be outbid almost immediately and waited. I was astonished to discover that no other bids had been made when I checked on the auction again ten minutes before completion, even more so when my opening bid was accepted shortly afterwards!

The book arrived with me just before the weekend and so I decided to include some photographs here before I get a proper chance to read it. Regular visitors to this humble blog will know that I don’t do reviews here and concentrate on cover artwork instead, I leave all the hard work to talented writers such as Joachim Boaz instead so be sure to check out the link above if you’d like to know more about this book.

The front cover piece is wonderfully post-psychedelic and totally fitting for a collection of such experimental, new wave SF. I particularly like how the main illustration bleeds over onto the spine which I hope comes across in the photograph below. I’ve also included a shot taken of page 74 which gives an idea of the more radical directions these works take.

Thanks goes as always to Joachim for his good taste and great writing for bringing this fantastic book to my attention, I’m looking forward to reading this one as soon as possible. Let me know what you think of this beauty in the comments and be sure to join me next week for more vintage cover art.

The Eye Of The Lens by Langdon Jones
This version was published in 1972 by Macmillan Books
The cover artist is Richard Jones

The Eye Of The Lens by Langdon Jones

The Eye Of The Lens Page Illustration

Off The Shelf; Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson 1956

The extremely talented Mr Colin Henry Wilson was an English writer and Philosopher whose earliest works were concerned with what he called ‘phenomenological existentialism’. He was originally part of a group of novelists and playwrights working during the 1950s who became known as the angry young men due to their disillusionment with traditional British society but later branched out into fiction, the occult, the paranormal and true crime amongst various other subjects.

I stumbled across a copy of his seminal work The Outsider whilst still at college and read it avidly, its exploration of social alienation via the roles played by various literary and cultural figures struck a deep chord in me and served as great inspiration throughout a large part of my formative years. The fact that Wilson was only twenty four years old when this masterpiece was published only served to strengthen the connection, these weren’t the vacuous postulations of some out of touch academic but compellingly relatable essays from someone who I considered to exist within my own age bracket. Despite the passage of almost three decades between first publication and my own exposure to this book, its contents felt no less relevant and continue to do so.

His fiction includes several studies dealing with the psychology of murder, science fiction and a number of entries into the Cthulu Mythos canon. He also continued to publish other highly regarded non-fiction titles too, his book on the psycho-sexual mores of the twentieth century (Origins Of The Sexual Impulse) should be on everyone’s essential reading list in my view.

Here are eight covers taken from books published in the 1960s, I hope that they serve to inspire you to seek out more information regarding this brilliant author and maybe even pick up a few of his titles.

The Outsider by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1967 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

The Outsider by Colin Wilson

Beyond The Outsider by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1966 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

Beyond The Outsider by Colin Wilson

Adrift In Soho by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1964 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

Adrift In Soho by Colin Wilson

Origins Of The Sexual Impulse by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1966 by Panther Books
The cover artist is not credited

Origins Of The Sexual Impulse by Colin Wilson

The World Of Violence by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1967 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

The World Of Violence by Colin Wilson

Ritual In The Dark by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1967 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

Ritual In The Dark by Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson On Music by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1965 by Pan Books
The cover artist is not credited

Colin Wilson On Music by Colin Wilson

Necessary Doubt by Colin Wilson
This version was published in 1966 by Panther Books
Cover art by Colin Price

Necessary Doubt by Colin Wilson