Ace On Sunday #4

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Today’s novel is a continuation of the book I chose at random last week by Ray Cummings (here) which I ended up enjoying a lot more than I initially thought I would despite its fantastic cover. Flipping the book upside down reveals I Speak For Earth by Keith Woodcott which is actually a pseudonym for John Brunner and bears the tagline;

The Man With Seven Faces

I love the cover painting by the inimitable Emsh, a row of overlapping heads which when looked at closely show that the mouth of each ascending figure is in fact the eye of the one below. It’s a very clever piece that works incredibly well to trick the eye if scanned from arm’s length. There is however a slight disparity in the number of faces portrayed, the tagline clearly says seven whereas Emsh only has available space to paint six!

Time to stop pondering this conundrum now and get on with reading the novel, I’ll be selecting a new Ace Double from the library shelves next Sunday so please do join me then. I hope you enjoy this fine example of vintage SF cover art, feel free to let me know your thoughts as always in the comments.

I Speak For Earth by Keith Woodcott
(Serial Number D-497)
This version was published in 1961 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller

D-497 I Speak For Earth by Keith Woodcott

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Latest Covers By Richard Powers

Regular readers of this humble blog will already know that I’m a huge fan of Richard Powers and his stunningly modernist cover art. Because of this, I always keep a close eye on eBay auctions, in secondhand bookshops and various other sources for good examples. Despite the fact that I have a huge number of Powers covers in my library, I am always amazed to find myself stumbling over books which I have never seen before and am therefore compelled to add them to my collection.

A few months ago I was browsing the online store of a US eBay seller that I follow when I came across a number of such titles. I was astonished to see so many in one place and all with a very reasonable asking price too. I immediately made a selection, agreed a postage charge with the buyer and set about waiting for my box of beautiful books to arrive.

Some weeks later, a courier knocked at my door bearing a parcel from the States and I eagerly tore into it to reveal a dozen or so pristine novels with eye popping cover art. I thought I’d share the first batch with you as they all feature paintings by the hugely talented Mr Powers. I’ll be hoping to add a few more books like these to my collection during 2016.

I hope that you enjoy this selection, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as always.

Beyond Infinity by Robert Spencer Carr
This version was published in 1954 by Dell Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Beyond Infinity by Robert Spencer Carr

The Metal Monster by A. Merritt
This version was published in 1957 by Avon Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

The Metal Monster by A. Merritt

Re-Birth by John Wyndham
This version was published in 1955 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Re-Birth by John Wyndham

The Winds Of Time by Chad Oliver
This version was published in 1958 by Pocket Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

The Winds Of Time by Chad Oliver

Star Short Novels edited by Frederik Pohl
This version was published in 1954 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Star Short Novels edited by Frederik Pohl

The Unsleep by Diana and Meir Gillon
This version was published in 1962 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

The Unsleep by Diana and Meir Gillon

Ace On Sunday #3

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It’s been great to start this series on such a high note with titles from Philip K. Dick and John Brunner but this Sunday it’s time to return to the Ace Doubles shelf in my library and select a brand new volume. I decided not to make an informed choice on this occasion and simply pulled out the first book that came to hand, serial number D-497. Today’s novel then is Wandl The Invader by Ray Cummings and has the following tagline;

A new planet menaces the solar system

The cover art features a hilarious yet fantastic painting by Ed Valigursky which somehow manages to land on the right side of kitsch. A startled young blonde clad in wonderfully retro-futuristic garb presses herself against the wall as a strange alien figure approaches. The extraterrestrial being itself is a spherical pink mass with stubby legs, tentacular arms and yellow eyes protruding on stalks. This is most definitely a cover of its time when illustrators pushed at the boundaries of their imaginations when faced with visualising what creatures from other worlds might look like.

It’s time to look past that nifty cover art and settle myself in for a good read, join me here again next Sunday to find out what lies on the other side of this Ace Double. Drop me a comment if you enjoyed this selection or let me know if you have a favourite cover featuring a rendition of some weird alien lifeform.

Wandl The Invader by Ray Cummings
(Serial Number D-497)
This version was published in 1961 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Valigursky

Wandl The Invader by Ray Cummings

Three Chris Yates Wraparounds

Early on during last year I came across a slightly tatty copy of Kalin by E. C. Tubb in a secondhand bookshop for the princely sum of seventy five pence. It was in worse condition than I usually allow myself to go for but it was perfectly readable and had a striking wraparound cover by Chris Yates so I decided to purchase it despite the faults.

Just recently I stumbled across two other Tubb novels which were also issued by Arrow Books in the same year as Kalin, both of which had a Yates wraparound cover. Once again though, neither of the books were in particularly good condition but it seemed a shame not to add them to my small collection especially given how ridiculously cheap they were.

Because of the effort and technical application involved in constructing a good image comprising of both covers and spine, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to try and remove as many defects in post processing. It took a good few hours of work to complete each book but I think the results speak for themselves and show off Chris Yates’ psychedelic painting/collage skills to full effect. It’s certainly the first time these covers have appeared on the web in this format which makes all the time spent hunched over my MacBook Pro worthwhile.

I’m sure that you’ll appreciate these covers too, please be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. And remember, always check the rear of your books when browsing, you can never be sure when a wraparound will come to hand.

Kalin by E. C. Tubb
This version was published in 1973 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

Kalin by E. C. Tubb

The Winds Of Gath by E. C. Tubb
This version was published in 1973 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

The Winds Of Gath by E. C. Tubb

Toyman by E. C. Tubb
This version was published in 1973 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

Toyman by E. C. Tubb

Ace On Sunday #2

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Last weekend, you may recall that I decided to embark upon a trip through some recent additions to my Ace Doubles collection as a substitute for the now completed Badger books which had become my usual Sunday reading partner. The plan is to select a new volume, complete the first title and then flip it over to read the other side on the following week. I began my journey with serial number D-457, Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick (here) which was a sterling read as I expected it would be from one of my all time SF heroes. And so today I’ve turned over the book to reveal a title by John Brunner who I also wrote about last Wednesday (here) and stated that I was surprised to find how many of his novels I have in my library – this one had gone completely unnoticed until now.

Like its companion on the reverse side of the book, this tale bears a tagline which reads;

Human fuses for a galactic explosion

The cover art is superb showing a number of rocketships blasting away from an exploding, fiery planet. There’s something very familiar about this cover painting that I became convinced I had seen it used before on another title which sent me scurrying to the library shelves. I couldn’t locate a match after performing a cursory search so if you know where else it has appeared (if at all) then please do let me know.

Temporary diversion over, it’s now time for me to settle down in my favourite seat and read on. I’ll be back next Sunday with a new book to share so join me then for more Ace Double action. Your thoughts are always welcome so feel free to drop me a comment.

The Skynappers by John Brunner
(Serial Number D-457)
This version was published in 1960 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Valigursky

D-457 The Skynappers by John Brunner

Off The Shelf; John Brunner

It sometimes amazes me whilst browsing through the shelves of my library just how many titles I have by particular authors. Recently I realised that I have almost forty books penned by John Brunner although it has to said that his work is relatively easy to find on the secondhand market as he was such a prolific writer in his day.

The ISFDB (here) lists a total of sixty two novels, some two dozen collections and countless more short stories to his credit. It makes my rather modest stash seem tiny and incomplete just looking at those figures. Still, I continue to read and buy more Brunners all the time because on the whole I do enjoy his writing. I thought I’d dip into my collection and select a number of my favourite covers to share here.

Feel free to drop me a comment and let me know what you think of my choices. Maybe you too have a large number of books written by a specific author, tell me what’s lining your library shelves.

The Sheep Look Up
This version was published in 1976 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Murray Winkelman

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

Now Then
This version was published in 1965 by Mayflower-Dell
The cover artist is Jacks

Now Then by John Brunner

Double Double
This version was published in 1969 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Double Double by John Brunner

The Stone That Never Came Down
This version was published in 1975 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Kelly Freas

The Stone That Never Came Down by John Brunner

The Dreaming Earth
This version was published in 1963 by Pyramid Books
The cover artist is John Schoenherr

The Dreaming Earth by John Brunner

The Long Result
This version was published in 1966 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Hoot Von Zitzewitz

The Long Result by John Brunner

The Stardroppers
This version was published in 1972 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Jack Gaughan

The Stardroppers by John Brunner

To Conquer Chaos
This version was published in 1964 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller

To Conquer Chaos by John Brunner

Stand On Zanzibar
This version was published in 19761 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner

Born Under Mars
This version was published in 1977 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Michael Herring

Born Under Mars by John Brunner

Ace On Sunday #1

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As regular readers of this humble blog know, last year I’d taken to spending my lazy Sundays here at Unsubscriber Towers curled up with a Badger book for company and enjoyed my travels along the library shelf immensely. Unfortunately however this pleasant journey through the works of Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe and his team of co-writers came to an abrupt end in December when I ran out of books so I was left to contemplate an alternative source of Sunday reading matter to take me into 2016.

Luckily for me I had won several Ebay auctions including a job lot during the first week of December and this got me thinking. The main auction was for a collection of Ace Double books from the US which arrived just before the post became completely swamped by the usual festive brouhaha and I spent several days happily photographing the covers for another future series of posts.

I published quite a number of articles on these wonderful double novels during last year and they seemed to be quite well received but instead of repeating myself once again in this fashion, I have decided to promote these books to my Sunday reading slot. I’ll choose a new Ace Double from the library shelf each fortnight and read the first title before picking it back up a week later, flipping it over and tackling the second. What could possibly go wrong?

And so to get this year underway I’ve selected serial number D-457 as my first read. It’s a novel by Philip K. Dick who is one of my favourite SF authors but I have to admit that I’ve never read this title in all the years I’ve been collecting his work. I have turned up my nose at several copies of later reprints during this period because of poor cover art and when I saw this illustration last year whilst researching Ace Doubles I knew this was the version I had to obtain. It took a while before I found it at a reasonable price but I think you’ll agree that it was worth the wait.

I’ll just state this again for anyone not already familiar with my rather odd quirks; I know the cover doesn’t change the story within but when faced with numerous reprints of any given title then why wouldn’t I go for the most visually appealing artwork? This one has a great Emsh cover – a man looks up with an expression of bafflement mixed with fear as a number of hammer-shaped objects with tiny robotic arms and headlamp eyes rain down from the skies.

Time to delve into the pages now and discover who will win the battle of the brain machines! I hope that you’ll join me next weekend to find out which title graces the reverse of this book and enjoy more wonderful vintage cover art. As always, please feel free to like, comment or share this post if you feel suitably inclined to do so.

Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick
(Serial Number D-457)
This version was published in 1960 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller

D-457 Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick