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

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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

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

Ace On Sunday #16

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Thanks for joining me this Sunday for another Ace Double, I’m continuing to read the reverse of the book I selected last weekend – Computer War by Mack Reynolds. This book contains another Reynolds novel on the flipside which makes this selection a true double. Time to open the cover and find out what the inside blurb has to say;

Section G, the top secret security unit of United Planets, had a special problem on their hands with the situation on Firenze. And for that special problem, they gathered together the most unusual squad in Section G’s unusual history. It Included;

A research biologist who could bend steel bars like rubber bands –

A middle aged lady with total total recall –

An interplanetary cowboy whose bullwhip was deadlier than a ray gun –

A brazen young lady acrobat who looked like an eight year old kid –

A mild young man who never lost a bet in his life –

And the best pickpocket that ever lived.

But Firenze with its CODE DUELLO was to prove a match for the lot of them!

Sounds like another romp to me then… bring it on Mr Reynolds! The cover features more groovy seventies typography like its predecessor and a sterling inset painting from the ever reliable Frank Kelly Freas depicting an astronaut brandishing a smoking ray gun amongst several towering obelisks.

And so now it’s time to make a fresh brew before diving between the slightly musty covers. Feel free to come back next weekend when I’ll be pulling out a fresh new Ace Double to enjoy. I hope that you’re enjoying these random selections from my library shelves, let me know what you think as always in the comments.

Code Duello by Mack Reynolds
(Serial Number 11650)
This version was published in 1973 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Frank Kelly Freas

Code Duello by Mack Reynolds

Ace On Sunday #15

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I’ve been kept from indulging in my usual weekend reading ritual several times over the past month and so I’m very happy to be able to spend this sunny Sunday in the company of a brand new Ace Double from the shelves. Today’s book comes from a set of newer Ace Doubles I picked up from a seller in the states at the end of last year and was originally issued in 1973. Both included titles are by American author Mack Reynolds whose other works I have mainly enjoyed so these should hopefully prove to be good reads. First up is Computer War, the inside blurb is as follows;

The problem with computer warfare is that the computer is always logical while the human enemy is not – or doesn’t have to be.

And that’s what the Betastani enemy were doing – nothing that the Alphaland computers said they would. Those treacherous foremen were avoiding logic and using such unheard of devices as surprise and sabotage. They even had Alphaland’s Deputy of Information believing Betastani propaganda without even realising it.

Of course he still thought he was being loyal to Alphaland, because he thought that one and one must logically add up to two. And that kind of thinking could make him the biggest traitor of them all.

The Ed Valigursky cover for this one is stunning in its use of blue and green, the typography is fantastically groovy in a seventies kind of way too and deserves a mention in its own right.

I’m looking forward to spending the day lazily reading this novel whilst drinking tea and vaping my face off – I hope that your Sunday is well spent too, whatever you decide to get up to. I’ll be back next weekend for another fix of Mack so be sure to join me then. Comments on this title or Ace Doubles in general are more than welcome so do let me know what you think.

Computer War by Mack Reynolds
(Serial Number 11650)
This version was published in 1973 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Ed Valigursky

Computer War by Mack Reynolds

Ace On Sunday #14

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It’s time to flip over the Ace Double book I randomly selected from the shelves last week and find out which title I’ll be spending my usual lazy Sunday reading. The title of today’s novel is Destination: Saturn by David Grinnell & Lin Carter. Turning the cover reveals the following blurb printed on the inside page;

In his own way, Ajax Calkins was a modest man. Modestly Wealthy – he was just a multi-billionaire. Modestly ambitious – he only wanted a world of his own. Modestly cooperative – he’d let the rest of the universe alone if they would let him alone.

And he did have a world of his own, too. The strange planetoid Ajaxia with its load of pre-asteroidal science was all his – and even Earth recognised that, provided they could come to an agreement.

But it was the sneaky Saturnians that were upsetting his applecart. Rather than make a deal, they fabricated their own Ajax Calkins, set him up, and walked off with Ajaxia.

That was the sort of thing sure to make Ajax lose his modesty – and set off after his kidnapped world single-handed – with the rest of the Earth-Mars fleet too many million miles in the rear!

I suspect that this one may well turn out to be a ‘romp’, a theory supported by the rather comical Kelly Freas cover featuring the somewhat regally attired Ajax Calkins standing next to his Saturnian imposter.

But now to read and learn how this farcical scenario plays out. If you’ve enjoyed the cover from this wonderful vintage novel then feel free to come back next Sunday when I’ll choose another Ace Double from the library of the unsubscriber. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments as always.

Destination: Saturn by David Grinnell & Lin Carter
(Serial Number H-85)
This version was published in 1968 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Kelly Freas

Destination Saturn by David Grinnell & Lin Carter