Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paperback 623: Alien Planet / Fletcher Pratt (Ace F-257)

Paperback 623: Ace F-257 (1st ptg, 1964)

Title: Alien Planet
Author: Fletcher Pratt
Cover artist: Ed Emshwiller

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:
  • In many ways, a rather generic scifi title / cover (I mean, come on, Alien Planet? That's the best you can do?). But all of this intricate techno-organic Rube Goldberg-esque machinery is gorgeous. There's man, there's monster, and then there's the in-between—which I'm gonna call the "Psychotic Fish Rollercoaster."
  • Also love the design on the dude's spacesuit. It's ornate, clean, and confectionary. I wanna lick him real bad.
  • That monster thingie is super-creepy if you really look at it. Looks like generic "alien" until you notice the humanoid features; that's what makes it really nightmarish. The face. The opposable thumbs. All floating in their own haze of stink. Good stuff.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Humanish hands harder to see here. Also, this thing's a lot less scary out of context. 
  • Apparently this is a "classic novel." I checked the original publication date. 1932.
  • I would've sworn "Murashema" had to be based on "Hiroshima," but the original publication date suggests not. Too early for that name to be very evocative in the west. 

Page 123~

The big man gave a heave that threw me on my side. I clutched him desperately, but at that moment the prisoner won free, snatched up the javelin and calmly and accurately plunged it into the throat of the man who was now trying to down me.

If unintended sexual subtext is your thing (you know, plunging "javelins" into throats and what not), this is your book. "I shifted position to bring the big man under me," etc. etc.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


Unknown said...

"Complete and unabridged" because this book is so epic that it COULD be abridged.

Unknown said...

"... The effect of the arrival of a citizen of a super-scientific planet on our own world?" That and "original" in the same paragraph? Gimme a break!

They have a "planet" and we have a "world?" The copy writer must have just bought a new thesaurus!

Karl said...

"Alien Planet" eh? Well, that certainly narrows it down -- to the entire universe's population of planets, minus one.

DemetriosX said...

Emshwiller was an absolutely terrific artist. His cover art is almost always gorgeous, though I have to say I'm not real wild about the "Psychotic Fish" here. The awesome thing about the spacesuit is when you realize that all those swirls and whatnot are reflections from stuff that's off-camera. It really enhances the space around the two figures.

I've always had Pratt tagged in my mind as primarily a fantasy author. I don't know if this is really the same story as the 1932 "A Voice Across the Years". The original story was co-credited with IM Stephens, who was actually his wife. He may have rewritten and expanded it, but then he was also 6 years dead when Alien Planet was first published in 1962. She must have had something to do with the republication.