Pulp/Sf/Fantasy Paperback Covers

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,864
Reaction score
16,483
My first copy of Thomas Disch's brilliant new wave classic 334 was this hilariously inappropriate outerspace cover (in the novel space travel has been abandoned).

9780417060804-uk.jpg

It is interesting to see the diverse range of covers 334 has gotten over the years.

51fGVGZ62fL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
125476075_rot1529447427.jpg
220px-334_(novel)_book_cover.jpg
ZS42s-Sid1oi3IXCc8M0O8FIA8C-mL_zPTJLH7Ko5s8.jpg
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,864
Reaction score
16,483
Another New Wave classic is Ballard's Crash, whose modern editions actually are quite striking and appropriately adventurous. The original paperbacks definitely don't shy away from its pornographic content.

crash.jpg

unnamed.jpg

Not sure what is going on here.

f15ef47a1d97da685346ec6f868ea818.jpg
6a00e39337cb1e8834017c38129533970b-800wi.jpeg
Crash_Croatia_525.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
That 1989 cover clearly takes some inspiration from the shape of Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.
That's a good point. It was actually a reused cover from the Orbit collection of best SF of the year for 1987:

Orbit Best SF 1987.jpg
My first Vance was The Dragon Masters, which still remains one of my favourites by him. The chilly, amoral tone in his sf (as opposed to the generally greater humour in his fantasy) is almost unique among the pulp generation, it reminds me more of Ballard than anything else.


View attachment 29706

I encountered both stories at the same time, I think, since "The Dragon Masters" (in the cover above) was the flipside of Ace Double from 1973 that featured "The Last Castle" as well. The amorality you mention seems to have been with Vance from the beginning or his writing, or nearly--it was marked in a short story "Temple of Han" I just read from Planet Stories in 1951, though Vance's stylistic trademarks had not yet developed in it.

I can't stop myself from quoting the opening of "The Last Castle" since it such a perfect example of mature Vance:

Toward the end of a stormy summer afternoon, with the sun finally breaking out under ragged black rain clouds, Castle Janeil was overwhelmed and its population destroyed. Until almost the last moment the factions among the castle clans were squabbling as to how Destiny properly should be met. The gentlemen of most prestige and account elected to ignore the entire undignified circumstance and went about their normal pursuits, with neither more nor less punctilio than usual. A few cadets, desperate to the point of hysteria, took up weapons and prepared to resist the final assault. Others still, perhaps a quarter of the total population, waited passively, ready—almost happy—to expiate the sins of the human race. In the end death came uniformly to all; and all extracted as much satisfaction in their dying as this essentially graceless process could afford. The proud sat turning the pages of their beautiful books, or discussing the qualities of a century-old essence, or fondling a favorite Phane. They died without deigning to heed the fact. The hot-heads raced up the muddy slope which, outraging all normal rationality, loomed above the parapets of Janeil. Most were buried under sliding rubble, but a few gained the ridge to gun, hack, stab, until they themselves were shot, crushed by the half-alive power-wagons, hacked or stabbed. The contrite waited in the classic posture of expiation, on their knees, heads bowed, and perished, so they believed, by a process in which the Meks were symbols and human sin the reality. In the end all were dead: gentlemen, ladies, Phanes in the pavilions; Peasants in the stables. Of all those who had inhabited Janeil, only the Birds survived, creatures awkward, gauche and raucous, oblivious to pride and faith, more concerned with the wholeness of their hides than the dignity of their castle. As the Meks swarmed over the parapets, the Birds departed their cotes. They screamed strident insults as they flapped east toward Hagedorn, now the last castle of Earth.

Vance at one point wrote that the root idea for the society of the Earth castles came from some reading he did about premodern Japan. It seems to me that it is just one example of a pattern he returns to again and again in his fiction: the baroque aristocratic society, with its elaborate codes of behavior and courtesy, its highly developed aesthetics, and its distance from reality. It's about as far from the can-do pragmatic outlook common in some American SF at the time, or the 'noble savage' ideas of Howard and some fantasy. Actually, "The Last Castle," takes more of a stance against such an aristocratic culture than Vance sometimes does; I've wondered if that, along with the quality of the prose, is one reason it was so successful.
 

Klibbix!

Depraved Necromancer
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
182
Reaction score
359
That's a good point. It was actually a reused cover from the Orbit collection of best SF of the year for 1987:

View attachment 29739


I encountered both stories at the same time, I think, since "The Dragon Masters" (in the cover above) was the flipside of Ace Double from 1973 that featured "The Last Castle" as well. The amorality you mention seems to have been with Vance from the beginning or his writing, or nearly--it was marked in a short story "Temple of Han" I just read from Planet Stories in 1951, though Vance's stylistic trademarks had not yet developed in it.

I can't stop myself from quoting the opening of "The Last Castle" since it such a perfect example of mature Vance:



Vance at one point wrote that the root idea for the society of the Earth castles came from some reading he did about premodern Japan. It seems to me that it is just one example of a pattern he returns to again and again in his fiction: the baroque aristocratic society, with its elaborate codes of behavior and courtesy, its highly developed aesthetics, and its distance from reality. It's about as far from the can-do pragmatic outlook common in some American SF at the time, or the 'noble savage' ideas of Howard and some fantasy. Actually, "The Last Castle," takes more of a stance against such an aristocratic culture than Vance sometimes does; I've wondered if that, along with the quality of the prose, is one reason it was so successful.

The Last Castle was also my first Vance. It was one of those double-sided books, but I can't remember what the other one was ('cos I didn't read it). I loved it, but I didn't really "learn" to enjoy his writing style until Lyonesse. I tried to read the first book when I was around 12 years old and I couldn't understand it, but when I came to it in my early twenties I ended up loving it. Suldrun's Garden remains one of my favourite books!

Suldrun's Garden.jpg


Also, I ended up grabbing James Blish's "Black Easter" because of this thread and, man, did I love it.
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,864
Reaction score
16,483
E.C. Tubb is a British space opera writer who I discovered from the praise he received from his fellow British sf writers like Moorcock, Stableford, etc.

Unlike a number of other space opera writers who grew out of the pulps and magazine tradition one of the great things about Tubb is you don't have to suffer through substandard, rushed writing. His style isn't remarkable per se but it is clear, literate and well written. His characterization isn't embarrassing or clumsy, his plots are pacey and well structured, he handles sex unusually well for a sf writer of his generation and is not bereft of real humour.

The covers for his compulsively readable Dumarest series for DAW and Ace are surprisingly first rate.

tubb-gath1.jpg 3236799.jpg 20241778827.jpg
 

Supervisor194

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2017
Messages
407
Reaction score
622
A lot of these book covers are screaming to have their title changed to something funny like in that other thread. :tongue:
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
The cover of the e-book version of Henry Kuttner's Elak of Atlantis collection that I just read is very bland, so here are some more interesting ones.

A 1938 October Weird Tales cover by Margaret Brundage (another of her Elak covers is above at post #105) and a 1941 January by Harold De Lay:
weird_tales_193810.jpg weird_tales_194101.jpg

The 1985 collection of all the Elak tales, cover by Brad Foster, and the 2007 Paizo reprint, cover by Andrew Hou:
Elak1985.jpg Elak2007-AndrewHou.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
Three covers, by Gene Szafran, from SF books I once owned. Szafran did a lot of paperback covers in the 1970s, until multiple sclerosis put a premature end to his career. He is responsible for some of the Heinlein reprint covers that appear upthread.

Day of the Drones (1970), The Alien Way (1973), and Trullion: Alastor 2262 (1973).
Day of the Drones 1975.jpg Alien Way 1973.jpg Trullion 1973.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
Looking back over the thread, there aren't as many of the Gene Szafran covers for Heinlein books as I had thought, so I will post some. These are all from Signet paperbacks; the covers originally appeared in 1970-72, though a few of these are actually later reprintings:

Farnham-Signet-Szarfan-1970.jpg Orphans-Signet-Szarfan-1970.jpg Menace from Earth-Signet-1970.jpg


DoubleStar-Signet_1970.jpg MethuselahsChildren-Signet-1975.jpg THGRNHLLSM0000.jpg

As you can see, they had a very distinct look, only vaguely related to the contents of the novel (or collection of stories).
 

Voros

Doomed Investigator
Joined
Sep 23, 2017
Messages
9,864
Reaction score
16,483
I have most of those Heinlein's with those covers as I liked their psychedelic style even though most of the actual sf within has a very 50s vibe.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
As promised elsewhere, some covers for Tanith Lee's Cyrion:

The 1983 DAW first edition, cover by Ken Kelly, and the 1984 J'ai Lu translation, cover by Tim White (actually a reused cover from Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May):

CYRION5C1982-Ken Kelly.jpg CRNMFJXKNH1984-Tim White.jpg

The 1984 Bastei Lübbe translation, cover by Greg Hildebrandt, and the 1993 Fanucci Editore translation, cover by Michael Whelan. The Hildebrandt cover was apparently made for this book, but doesn't reflect the character as described. The Whelan cover is reused from Moorcock's The Vanishing Tower and unsurprisingly has little do do with text.

CRNQNMLTLM1984-Greg Hildebrandt.jpg CRNFRSWCPP1993-Michael Whelan.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
The cover for "The Time Trap" by Henry Kuttner, in its first appearance in 1938. The art is by Frank R. Paul and is a good representation of one of the scenes in the story. Though it's been reprinted several times since in anthologies, this is the only cover that actually relates to the story.

Time Trap Franck R Paul 1938.jpg
 
Last edited:

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
This is something I stumbled upon and had to post, just because of its title: The Gods Hate Kansas, by Joseph Millard (take that, Jayhawkers!).

The original 1941 appearance in Startling Stories, cover by Rudolph Belarski, and the 1951 reprint in Fantastic Story, cover by Earle Bergey:

STARTLNOV1941-GodsHateKansas.jpg Fantastic Story 1952 Gods Hate Kansas.jpg

The 1964 Monarch novel, cover by Jake Thurston, and the 1964 Urania translation, cover by Karel Thole:

THGDSHTKNS1964-JackThurston.jpg Urania-KarelThole.jpg

It also seems to have been the inspiration for the 1967 SF film They Came from Beyond Space:

CameFromBeyondSpace-1967.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
Burroughs' Fighting Man of Mars has had a large number of interesting covers over the years. This post will deal with some early ones.

The novel was serialized in 6 parts in Blue Book in 1930, the April to September issues. It got the cover for all of them except August. Laurence Herndon did the covers, all of which picture episodes from the novel. In the April cover, I assume the large pale antagonist is supposed to be one of the white apes of Barsoom. It's also interesting that Herndon imagined Martian fliers as contemporary airplanes.

FightingManMars-BlueBook-April 1930.jpg FightingManMars-BlueBook-May 1930.jpg

FightingManMars-BlueBook-June 1930.jpg FightingManMars-BlueBook-July 1930.jpg

FightingManMars-BlueBook-September 1930.jpg

The dustjacket of the Metropolitan Books first edition (1931) by Hugh Herndon. Again, fliers have wings. I don't think the hero, Tan Hadron, ever wears a helmet in the novel:

fmmet.jpg

The cover of the initial Bodley Head edition (1932) by 'Rogrenis' and of the reprint (1933) by J.H. Hartley. I like the Rogrenis cover quite a bit; it's simple but evocative:

FGHTNGMNFB1932-BodleyHead_Rogrenis.jpg FGHTNGMNFM1933-BodleyHead_Hartley.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
More Fighting Man of Mars covers:

The Pinnacle edition (1954), cover by J.C. McConnell, and the Canaveral Press (1962) by Mahlon Blaine. The McConnell again presents Barsoomian fliers as Earth aircraft, while the Blaine has an odd Mork Borg quality. Sorry that the best I could do for it is an e-Bay photo.

FGHTNGMNFM1954-Pinnacle.jpg Canaveral.jpg

The 1963 Ace cover by Roy Krenkel and the 1964 Ballantine by Bob Abnett. I like both of these, and the Abnett cover is what got burned into my brain as the 'real' image of a Martian flier when I was young.

FTNGM1963-Ace-RoyKrenkel.jpg FGHTNGMNFM1964-Ballantine.jpg

The 1966 Four Square Books cover by Josh Kirby and the 1971 New English Library by Richard Clifton-Dey. The Kirby cover makes Tan Hadron look a bit like a zombie, maybe in part because of the color scheme. The Clifton-Dey does not show any actual scene from the text, but is clearly going for cheesecake.

FGHTNGMNFM1966-FourSquareBooks.jpg FGHTNGMNFM1971-NEL.jpg

Two later Ballantine covers, the 1973 by Gino D'Achille and the 1979 by Michael Whelan. I don't find D'Achille's Barsoom covers all that attractive, though it does capture a scene from the novel well.

FGHTNGMNFM1973-Ballantine.jpg FGHTNGMNFM1979-Ballantine-Whelan.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
881
Reaction score
2,176
Last, but not least, of the Fighting Man of Mars covers--the Frazetta cover for the omnibus of Master Mind of Mars and Fighting Man of Mars (1974). The cover fits Fighting Man fairly well; that could be Han Hadron and Tavia.

Screenshot_2021-04-30 The master mind of Mars and A fighting man of Mars Burroughs, Edgar Rice...png
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top