Friday, April 29, 2016

Paperback 939: The 13th Immortal / Robert Silverberg // This Fortress World / James E. Gunn (Ace Double D-223)

Paperback 939: Ace Double D-223 (PBO / 1st ptg, 1957)

Title: The 13th Immortal / This Fortress World
Author: Robert Silverberg / James E. Gunn
Cover artists: [Ed Valigusrsky / Ed Emshwiller]

Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • Look familiar? (see Paperback 938)
  • On line at the Genius Bar: "It won't reboot."
  • I wanna do a coffee table book of old scifi art called "When Robots Looked Cool."
  • Actually this one only looks cool above the waistline. Down below, things are a little spindly.
Best things about this other cover:
  • You do not want to make an illegal throw-in in space soccer. The penalty's pretty harsh.
  • Love the guy's double fear-hand (which are really shock-hand, but I'm gonna say "close enough").
  • The nose-high black latex suit really completes the "Intergalactic Sexual Sadist" look.

Page 123~ (from The 13th Immortal)

One crushing fact rolled down on Kesley like a shock wave. One fact.

Please enjoy this eternal cliffhanger.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Paperback 938: The Silver Eggheads / Fritz Leiber (Ballantine Books F561)

Paperback 938: Ballantine Books F561 (PBO, 1961) ("First published as a novelet in Fantasy & Science Fiction," 1958)

Title: The Silver Eggheads
Author: Fritz Leiber
Cover artist: Richard Powers

Estimated value:  $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • Fish-faced robot wearing a bra and carrying a young Joe McCarthy to the boudoir? Sure, I'm in.
  • This is Richard Powers at his wackadoodle best. Love how he can conjure a scifi world with just a few odd shapes and blotches.
  • As one of my Twitter followers wrote just now, upon seeing this cover: "'Alien Pietas' would be an alt-metal band that I would TOTALLY listen to..."

Best things about this back cover:
  • The mad, gay, heady world of the "arts" is the only place I want to be.
  • MISS BLUSHES! "A censor-robix of delicate pink"; I think that's her on the cover, looking not very censorious. Erotica robotica!
  • "... a luscious platinum ro-but ..." I was like "What's a ro-but!? What Is A Ro-But!?"" But it's just an awkwardly placed speech-cessation hyphen.Still, as a daring reader, I feel obliged to, uh, go in. This one's going on the "Must Read" pile.
Page 123~

Behind Miss Blushes lurched Pop Zangwell, waving his caduceus and yelling thickly, "Avaunt, by Anubis! No news-robots in here!"

Ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for caduceus-waving.


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Friday, April 22, 2016

Paperback 937: Death of a Stray Cat / Jean Potts (Berkley G492)

Paperback 937: Berkley Medallion G492 (1st ptg, 1961)

Title: Death of a Stray Cat
Author: Jean Potts
Cover artist: photo cover

Estimated value: $10-15 (condition: purrrfect) (sorrynotsorry)

Best things about this cover:
  • Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, kitty kitty.
  • I love how her chair is so dark you can't really see it, so it looks like she's kind of shimmying and dancing toward you in some kind of gothic version of The Twist. Let's call it the "Stray Cat Strut" (stillnotsorry!)
  • What do you call that hairstyle, where it's a bouffant but with a kind of sinkhole up front? It's pretty glorious.

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ooh, his and hers panting! You shouldn't have.
  • Uh, safe word. We need a safe word up in here. Stat!
  • Hmm, never heard of Jean Potts, or "Go, Lovely Rose," or this book. Anyone know if I'm missing anything?

Page 123~

"We gagged him because he kept talking dirty," said Gen.

This concludes the first meeting of "BDSM 4 Prudes"; please help yourself to mini-donuts and Sanka on your way out. See you next week.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Paperback 936: The Black Rose / Thomas B. Costain (Perma Books M-7501)

Paperback 936: Perma Books M-7501 (1st ptg, 1961)

Title: The Black Rose
Author: Thomas B. Costain
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: a few bucks

[Part of the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • Shirtless Barbers of Medieval England!
  • This dude is totally thinking "m'lady."
  • "Cut this lock. The one I'm pointing to. With my pointy digits that give my arm the appearance of an angry swan ... yes, that one."

Best things about this back cover:
  • Ooh, side by side! That's the hottest kind of lying!
  • Engaine, LOL. "Oh, are you having 'Engaine' trouble? Here, I can help you start your motor..."
  • "Their love was as wrong as this putrid green color you're looking at right now!"

Page 123~

"And now, John-Put-Upon, will you be good enough to run downstairs and ask your grandfather and my friend to come up?"

Medieval bordellos could get a little freaky.


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Monday, April 18, 2016

Paperback 935: The Darkness and the Dawn / Thomas B. Costain (Perma Books M5029)

Paperback 935: Perma Book M5029 (1st ptg, 1960)

Title: The Darkness and the Dawn
Author: Thomas B. Costain
Cover artist: Uncredited :(

Estimated value: $4-6

[Part of the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • The correct answer is, "No, those Uggs do not make your thighs look fat, Mr. The Hun."
  • I love how he has time for a mid-battle photo shoot. "I *am* smiling, you toad! Don't make me unsheath this!"
  • If you're gonna dip your foot in the waters of Attila the Hun novels, you're gonna want to go with something from the "superlative" category.
  • Thomas B. Costain turned out a bunch of mid-century historicals. His first novel was published at age 57!

Best things about this back cover:
  • I don't think this back cover exactly nailed the landing, compass-metaphor-wise.
  • I want a t-shirt that reads, simply, "HIGH COMPETENCE."
  • I feel like there are a lot of ellipses here, and that there may be more to the Thomas Costain iceberg than this cover is allowing us to see.

Page 123~

Nicolan was taller than most of the other slaves and so was stationed in the rear rank, holding one of the cushions on which reposed a vial of true nard, a most aromatic perfume.

Please let loose the phrase "a vial of true nard" upon the land. Thank you.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Paperback 934: My Gun Is Quick / Mickey Spillane (Signet 791)

Paperback 934: Signet 791 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: My Gun Is Quick
Author: Mickey Spillane
Cover artist: Lou Kimmel

Estimated value: $4-7

[Part of the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • This is what all vintage paperbacks should look like—authentically beat to fuck.
  • People really read Spillane. To pieces.
  • I love the male fear hand! Gender equity!

Best things about this back cover:
  • The *Hammer* mystery will *hit* me? Stellar wordplay, copy guy.
  • I feel like they should be "seductively-lit" apartments. Not "-lighted." Hey, copy guy...
  • Damn, that Spillane portrait is olden. I'm used to the buzz-cut, t-shirted, gun-wielding dude. This dude:

Page 123~

Finally she said, "The baby clothes, Mike . . . it fits!"

Mike, now wearing a onesie, wondered how he would ever regain his dignity.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Paperback 933: Between Planets / Robert Heinlein (Ace 05501)

Paperback 933: Ace 05501 (1st thus, ca. 1970)

Title: Between Planets
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Cover artist: Steele Savage (!)
Frontispiece artist (!!!): Clifford Geary

[Part of the Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Est. value: $5-10

Best things about this cover:
  • Nice dismount, Space Jesus!
  • Someone was So High when they designed this.
  • "So, like, the dragons have eyes, but then those eyes have eyes ... like, seven eyes ... and the dragons are swimming through, like, an algae-covered pond toward a tiny floating city, and then there's this muscly space preacher in a hot orange spandex body suit who's like 'AMEN!' ... oh my god this is gonna be sweet."

Best things about this back cover:
  • Not to bring the room down too much, but this is really poorly written. It's like a 10-year-old trying to summarize a story.
  • I see now why they needed the psychedelic nutjobbery of the front cover—to offset this soporific nonsense.
  • "Don, the hero of this story" is an improbable sentence.
Bonus feature ... FRONTISPIECE!

Best things about this frontispiece:
  • Oh, man, I'm gonna be having man-goat-chicken nightmares for days now...
  • The twin dildos on top really tie the whole look together.
  • The human appears to be unzipping his fly. I'm now a little worried for man-goat-chicken.

Page 123~

Involuntarily Don grunted with pain.

Choose your own context!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Paperback 932: The War Against the Rull / A.E. Van Vogt (Permabook M4263)

Paperback 932: Perma Books M-4263 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: The War Against the Rull
Author: A. E. Van Vogt
Cover artist: Some Richard Powers knock-off artist (or possibly Richard Powers, who knows?)

Estimated value: a few bucks, ish

[part of the newly established Laura R. Braunstein Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • This is pretty lazy as scif fi covers go. Feels like it was made on some kind of assembly line where they just slap down hackeneyed visuals without much thought. "Floating orb of some kind ... dude in space suit ... maybe a few other smaller dudes ... wacky '60s font ... paint splatter to suggest some kind of, I don't know, flare? ... And, done!"
  • The Rull had eyes in their knees and wore elaborately decorated space woolens, so war was kind of inevitable. 
  • I am tempted to read this book, as I have been tempted to read several of these prolific but largely forgotten popular fiction writers (I'm in the middle of a Mary Roberts Rinehart book right now! It's super-fun!). Thanks to Pop Sensation reader and librarian extraordinaire Laura Braunstein for sending me a buncha beat up paperbacks that only a mother or vintage paperback enthusiast could love! More to come.
Best things about this back cover:
  • "... or are you just happy to see me?"
  • So ... they're Cylons. Or Pod People. Or latent zombies. Got it.
  • That is the most nauseating question mark ever produced.

Page 123~ 

With Diddy in tow, the two Rulls came to Cross 2. The Way itself was Cross 1.

Thus setting up an epic '90s space-rap battle. My money's on The Way.


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Friday, April 8, 2016

Paperback 931: Soft & Savage Puzzie McKill / David Lynn (Ember Library EL390)

Paperback 931: Ember Library EL390 (PBO, 1967)

Title: Soft & Savage Puzzie McKill
Author: David Lynn
Cover artist: Uncredited (Robert Bonfils)

Estimated value: $20,000 (I made this figure up, but it feels right)

[Newest addition to the Doug Peterson Collection]

Best things about this cover:
  • Normally Doug brings me a small bagful of sleaze paperbacks whenever I see him at crossword puzzle tournaments. This time, he brought just one. The One.
  • It only now (literally right now) occurs to me that "Puzzie" may be some ham-fisted way of attempting to conjure up "Pussy." Let me assure you, in a hotel lobby full of crossword puzzle enthusiasts, that association didn't land At All. I just figured that outdoor group BDSM was her *second* hobby.
  • Her eyes, man. Her. Eyes. "When Irish eyes are BORING A HOLE IN YOUR JUNK!"
  • One of the things that actually bothers me about this cover is that Cagey McRageface should really be able to slip out of that bamboo structure. He looks more like an angry go-go dancer than a captive sex whatever he is.
  • To repeat, the title of this book is [deep breath] "Soft & Savage Puzzie McKill"—because "Puzzie McKill" would've been too ambiguous.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Whoa oh here she comes! Watch out, boy, she'll cut you up. Whoa oh here she comes! She's a Manhater.
  • "Mark Davidson" is not a name that can hang with Puzzie McKill. Doesn't quite evoke ... anything.
  • Ew to "Trail of lust." Clean-up on aisle puzz.

Page 123~ (hold on to your hats)

A slow smile of malicious glee crept over Puzzie's face as she looked at Mark, her hands resting on top of the Killer's bald head as the man nudged and tugged about in the nest of golden fleece.

I felt like I had a handle on this sentence at the beginning, but then... things fall apart. Let's just say the "nest of golden fleece" is Exactly What You Think It Is. "Tugged about"? Not a verb phrase I'd want anywhere near my golden fleece.


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