What The? #9

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

I Sing The Body Electric by Ray Bradbury

1972 – Corgi
Cover art not credited

This very odd cover clearly features a heavily rouged glam rock centaur with a rather natty feather-cut hairstyle flexing his biceps, his forearms transmogrifying into miniature bicep flexing glam rock figures. I think I’m slowly losing the plot here.

WTF9 Bradbury I Sing The Body Electric


Gimme More Head

When I originally put together the Gimmie Head article (here) back in December last year, it struck me just how many books I had left over with heads on their covers. In fact, I have just received a package containing two more such volumes from my narrowboat dwelling friend this past month so I thought I might as well do a follow up of sorts. I chose eight titles for the original piece and so for the sake of equilibrium I have done the same here, narrowing my original choice down from a dozen.

As I prepared the books for photographing and checked the design of the previous article, I became aware that I had used two volumes by Algis Budrys in the first piece and have somehow managed to repeat that feat in part two. Maybe Budrys’ cover designers just liked heads…

Mindmix by Leo P. Kelley
1972 – Fawcett Gold Medal
“They gave him another man’s brain and forced him to live in a stranger’s nightmare”
A tagline just crying out for a cover depicting a fragmented head populated by surly strangers. The artist is uncredited for this fantastically unsettling piece.

Kelley Mindmix

Who? by Algis Budrys
1979 – Fontana
A brilliant physicist reconstructed by The Russians and now resembling a “ball bearing on legs” is at the centre of this rather nifty little spy-fi thriller. The cover painting is by Alun Hood.

Budrys Who

Prisoner Of Fire by Edmund Cooper
1977 – Coronet
A tale of telepathy and psychological warfare gone wrong when one the gifted trainees goes missing. Orders from the top of Government dictate that she is hunted down by her own kind and destroyed. Sadly no artist is credited for the brilliant cover.

Cooper Prisoner

Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick
1970 – Ace Books
Great artwork by John Schoenherr from this 1st paperback edition from one of my favourite PKD novels.

Dick Frolix 8

Michaelmas by Algis Budrys
1979 – Fontana
A rather prescient tale featuring Domino, a highly portable computer which allows Laurent Michaelmas to interface with and influence every electronic communications network on the planet. The cover by Alun Hood looks like the titular hero is being fitted with a giant sim card!

Budrys Michaelmas

The Worlds Of Frank Herbert by Frank Herbert
1970 – New English Library
A landscape populated by heads and Salvador Dali-esque upper torsos painted by Jan Parker illustrate this fine collection of Herbert shorts and novellas.

Frank Herbert Worlds

The Inner Landscape – Anthology
1975 – Corgi
An anthology of novellas by Mervyn Peake, J.G. Ballard and Brian W. Aldiss. This superb cover is yet another uncredited piece unfortunately. (Thanks for this one Bernie!)

Inner Landscape

Immortality Inc. by Robert Sheckley
1978 – Peacock Books/Penguin
Excellent story of reincarnation and zombies from Sheckley, the wraparound artwork by Peter Goodfellow is pretty damn good too.

Sheckley Immortality

Gimme Head

After taking such a long break from blogging, it seems only logical to piece together another bumper theme based on cover art due to the large number of books which have been pushed through my letterbox in the intervening period. I was flicking through my library for a few more covers featuring human skulls during the weekend for a continuation of an earlier piece (here) but kept coming across books with whole heads on them and so that’s where I’ll take my cue from. Here’s the chosen selection;

The Whole Man by John Brunner
1970 – Ballantine
A great piece of cover art from Steele Savage to begin with gracing this fine repress of Brunner’s 1964 novel. Not only does the design feature the head of protagonist Gerald Howson, but his cranium is filled with thirteen other heads whose faces stare out unblinkingly at the reader.

Brunner Whole

When They Come From Space by Mark Clifton
1964 – Four Square
One of only three novels by Mark Clifton, this book was recently purchased from a lady who lives on a narrowboat. I initially thought the cover was by Richard Powers but it is sadly uncredited in the book and I can’t find any further clues as to its creator.

Clifton Space

Clone by Richard Cowper
1974 – Quartet
This rather strange image is uncredited in the book but I have read on a SF forum that it could possibly be the work of Jim Burns – although personally I have my doubts. It’s a great painting all the same.

Cowper Clone

The Furious Future by Algis Budrys
1966 – Panther
More uncredited artwork on this great collection. This time the head appears to be materialising from inside some kind of giant psychedelic waffle. Superbly odd.

Budrys Future

The Lost Perception by Daniel F. Galouye
1968 – Corgi
Yet another uncredited piece which has been suggested by one of my knowledgable readers is the work of Josh Kirby, (thanks Bernie!) The cover painting serves to illustrate the effects of an alien epidemic know as ‘the screamies’, or to quote from the rear cover;

“Exploding in a man’s mind in a searing blast of noise and heat… the victims dying in a rigid paroxysm of pain…” This novel was renamed A Scourge Of Screamers for its final reprinting later the same year.

Galouye Perception

Keep The Giraffe Burning by John Sladek
1977 – Panther
A fantastic collection of short stories from one of my current favourite authors which has a brilliantly bizarre cover painting by the always intriguing Peter Goodfellow.

Sladek Giraffe

Can You Feel Anything When I Do This? – Robert Sheckley
1974 – Daw
This excellent collection of Sheckley shorts features supremely twisted head-related artwork by Hans Arnold and came to me in ‘as new’ condition from a book dealer based in Sydney

Sheckley Feel Anything

Rogue Moon by Robert Budrys
1973 – Arrow
Featured on another Budrys title, this final piece of art is not exactly a human head but rather a glass simulacra which begins on the back cover and continues over the spine and onto the front forming a very trippy wraparound photo montage. This striking design is the work of Chris Yates.

Budrys Rogue Moon

Sturgeon’s Strange Orbit

Sturgeon In Orbit

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win an eBay auction for ten vintage novels by Theodore Sturgeon for a relatively paltry sum. Amongst them was this rather fine 1973 Corgi reprint of Sturgeon In Orbit which contains a short story and four novellas. I already had an earlier copy of this collection but couldn’t let the auction pass because of this fact, there were nine other books at stake after all. This version has a wonderfully tactile ribbed cover and features suitably groovy wraparound art which is sadly uncredited.

Sturgeon Orbit Front

Sturgeon Orbit Rear

A Touch Of Strange

Following the successful conclusion of this auction I decided to search for more books by Sturgeon and found this 1978 Daw collection of shorts being offered by a US bookseller. Frankly, the cover had already convinced me that I should have this book even before checking its publication history on the indispensable ISFDB website (here). The bizarre painting is by Hans Arnold who was also responsible for the unsettlingly odd cover art which graces a 1974 Daw reprint of Robert Sheckley’s Can You Feel Anything When I Do This? Strange indeed!

Sturgeon Strange Front

Sturgeon Strange Rear