*Warning* This post contains a lot of images (fifteen to be precise) to scroll through at the bottom of this written piece but they’re all well worth taking a look at. Apologies in advance…
I’ve written once before that putting together a collection of anything can be a frustrating and disheartening endeavour before indulging in the pleasure afforded by it’s eventual completion. Sometimes however, that completion can never seem to be obtained as is the case with this series of books.
It all began a year or so ago ago when I discovered a great website called The Art Of Penguin Science Fiction (here) through a friend and began clicking on the thumbnails of book covers to discover more about them. I had a few books in my collection at that time but this resource has been an invaluable tool for me since its discovery. I have used it to assemble several fine collections of Penguin SF titles along with a few partial collections – this one included.
I’ve been here so many times before – a few easy finds with low prices, a false sense of security. Then the hunt begins in earnest, eBay is no use and it’s time to hit up the dealers & contacts I have in the trade. This can be a hit or miss affair as the last book or two can command serious prices depending on author, condition etc. Usually however, I somehow manage to get across the line… but not this time.
Back in 1969, Penguin’s new art director David Pelham commissioned Italian designer and experimental photographer Franco Grignani to produce a series of art pieces for a series of books to be published that year and into 1970. Grignani’s approach was unique at the time using shattered mirrors, oil, water and other substances to reflect images which he would then photograph. To quote the website;
“Grignani’s black covers and single-colour images form a kaleidoscope of shimmering dreams and shattered nightmares. They are like a free association of thoughts mapped out in watery reflections that briefly coalesce and then disperse, leaving memories of figures trapped in the fragments of a looking-glass. They hint at other dimensions and warped worlds where space swims and time shudders. Viewed as a set they would not look out of place if framed and hung on the walls of an art gallery. The thought of sixteen black spines lined up on a bookshelf seems somewhat prosaic by comparison”.
Like the David Pelham cover article I wrote before this (here) I thought that it would be great to hang all sixteen covers in a pixelated art gallery for the denizens of cyberspace to gaze at rather than having those black spines look out at me from my library shelf. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
It’s been almost a year since I bought the last title in this collection and eBay has been unkind since then. My trade contacts have not had a sniff of the final book I need, most admitting that they’ve never even seen copies come up for sale. Because of this, I have decided to share what I have – fifteen Penguin covers by Franco Gignani and hope that I find my missing copy – The Day It Rained Forever by Ray Bradbury – because it will have a good home waiting for it here amongst it’s brothers.
The Productions Of Time by John Brunner
Berserker by Fred Saberhagen
The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber
Bill, The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
Search The Sky by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick
Rork! by Avram Davidson
Starchild by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson
The Judgement Of Eve by Edgar Pangborn
The Squares Of The City by John Brunner
Davy by Edgar Pangborn
The Traps Of Time edited by Michael Moorcock
Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
The Reefs Of Space by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson
Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick
As the above quote states, “The thought of sixteen black spines lined up on a bookshelf seems somewhat prosaic by comparison”. I tend to agree with that perspective entirely as here’s the regular view I get from my library – not the merest hint of the incredible art contained on each of those covers;