Ace On Sunday #19

Ace Double Header

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


A Word Of Thanks To Genuine & Friendly eBay Sellers

It makes a lot of sense to say that my number one source for secondhand books is eBay. Decent bookshops for my kind of reading material are sadly almost non-existent in my area and online book dealers can sometimes be far too mercenary when it comes to the prices they want for anything they deem to be rare in any way. No, I can sit on my couch with a cup of tea and my iPad on my lap as I browse in comfort. It’s obviously a very hit and miss affair, search for any given author and you’ll invariably get dozens of new editions up for sale or fairly tatty examples of older works. It’s off piste or weirdly random where things start to get interesting. Sometimes I can go for weeks without so much as a sniff then all of a sudden I hit a long list of great books – all of which I must have of course, often from the same seller.

I’ve made some great contacts through eBay too, sellers who genuinely communicate in a friendly way and maybe even offer deals for frequent buyers. People who refund excess postage without having to be asked or just send a pleasant message to say “thanks for buying my books” or “hello again, nice to have you back”. I even have the pleasure of occasionally buying from a lady who meticulously wraps each book in coloured tissue paper and includes a small handwritten card making them far more like little presents than mere vintage paperbacks (thanks Bernie!) It makes the world a better place to be in and I’m glad to be doing business with people just like these, some of whom I have come to call real friends over the years despite having never met any of them in person.

This week’s selection of book covers, online purchases each and every one is dedicated to those very eBay sellers who have managed through their generosity and kind actions to put a smile on my usually worldweary face (I mean, have you seen my Gravatar, I gave the photographer my full repertoire of “blissfully happy with not a care in the world” looks and this is the best he could come up with!) – for that very fact ladies and gentlemen of eBay, I for one would like to take this opportunity to stand up and thank you heartily. Please carry on doing what you’re doing well and take pleasure in the knowledge that there are some of us out here snapping up your wares whilst greatly appreciating your efforts in recognising us as living, breathing customers with feelings too – actual human beings rather than a mere software trigger to demand the moving of a package from one location to another.

Now, enough sentimental noodling, let’s get to the best bit – books! Here’s my choice of five, all eBay purchases mind. Feel free to comment on any aspect of the article above or just the book covers, I always look forward to our conversations.

The People Maker by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1959 by Zenith Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Knight The People Maker

The Pandora Effect by Jack Williamson
This version was published in 1969 by Ace Books
The cover artist is C. Gross

Williamson The Pandora Effect

A Funeral For The Eyes Of Fire by Michael Bishop
This version was published in 1975 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Gene Szafran

Bishop A Funeral For The Eyes Of Fire

City Of A Thousand Suns by Samuel R. Delany
This version was published in 1969 by Sphere Books
The cover artist is Russell Fitzgerald

Delany City Of A Thousand Suns

Ladies Day / This Crowded Earth by Robert Bloch
This version was published in 1968 by Belmont Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Bloch Ladies Day - This Crowded Earth

From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.3, This Week’s Latest Additions

I needed a bit of cheering up last weekend and so I put the kettle on, helped myself to a couple of chocolate biscuits and settled down with eBay on my iPad. I was hoping she wasn’t going to be in a fickle and obnoxious mood as is sometimes her inclination. As I sipped my tea however I had a good feeling about this session and before long I had quite a few books on my ‘Watch’ list. Before the hour was over, I had bought several titles and was bidding on quite a few more. Cheered on by this lucky streak I helped myself to another cup of tea – in a much more cavalier style than I had done before!

It was only a few days later before my hallway started filling with those lovely bookish parcels ready to have their sealed flaps gently teased open to reveal their beautiful, delicate contents. (steady on now old chap! This is starting to sound like an exercise in literary eroticism now so I’ll end these thoughts right here!) The following five titles were amongst the first batch to arrive but I have had more parcels arrive this morning already and am expecting next week to bear similar fruit.

I just wanted you, my kind readers and fellow vintage paperback cover aficionados to be the first to enjoy these brand new additions to my humble library. I’ll post more newly acquired books when time allows, I have plenty more great covers to share with you all yet.

Your erudite comments on these matters are as ever always welcome;

Budrys’ Inferno by Algis Budrys
This version was published in 1963 by Berkley Medallion
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Budrys Budrys' Inferno

Babel 17 by Samuel R. Delany
This version was published in 1969 by Sphere
The cover artist is Bill Botton

Delany Babel 17

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
This version was published in 1969 by Panther
The cover artist is Alan Aldridge

Vonnegut Player Piano

Fourth Mansions by R. A. Lafferty
This version was published in 1975 by Panther
The cover artist is Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon

Lafferty Fourth Mansions

The Sentinel Stars by Louis Charbonneau
This version was published in 1974 by Corgi
The cover artist is Josh Kirby

Charbonneau The Sentinel Stars