Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Paperback 1023: Children of the Void / William Dexter (Paperback Library 52-357)

Paperback 1023: Paperback Library 52-357 (PBO, 1966)

Title: Children of the Void
Author: William Dexter
Cover artist: Uncredited ("The artist is not credited, no visible signature [Jack Gaughan ?]" (isfdb)

Condition: 8/10
Estimated value: $10-12
Best things about this cover:
  • Used Spaceship Salesmen of the Void
  • When the humans you're using for biceps curls suddenly get a mind of their own...
  • My favorite word on this cover is "Violently." Like, how else is an Earth going to be "torn from its sun"? "Affectionately"?
  • Grafton can't even get to his damned spaceship. How's he gonna halt a runaway world when this animatronic Chuck E. Cheese reject makes him run in terror?
  • Not at all sure they didn't mean "Children of the Noid"; the similarities are uncanny:

And now...
Best things about this back cover:
  • Wow, superdumb title replication, but super cool sketch of '60s scifi futurism. Spaceships were awesomest when they were entirely fanciful. I don't want to live in a future that isn't a mid-century future.
  • That is a particularly dull and detail-free opening paragraph.
  • Wow, Denis Grafton (!) is a recurring character? The basis of a series? He's like Chairman of the Board of Space Heroes That Time Totally and Utterly Forgot
Page 123~
But there was always something at the back of the adult mind that whispered to us that we should shun these strange creatures.
O great, a treatise on right-wing immigration policy. No thanks.


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Friday, May 25, 2018

Paperback 1022: Orbit Unlimited / Poul Anderson (Pyramid G615)

Paperback 1022: Pyramid G615 (PBO, 1961)

Title: Orbit Unlimited
Author: Poul Anderson
Cover artist: John Schoenherr (credited)

Condition: 8/10
Estimated value: $8-12

Best things about this cover:

  • Tired of orbit plans that restrict your orbiting times or charge your over-orbiting fees? Then sign up for Sprint's new Orbit Unlimited plan. Orbit any time. Here we see subscribers enjoying the Orbit Unlimited Family plan...
  • This cover is super boring. I'm kind of interested in the space surfboard, and in the rusty nose of whatever that vessel it is the astrofolk are exploring. But honestly the most interesting thing about this cover is the military surplus font and its alternate-letter coloring.
  • I still haven't read a damn thing Poul Anderson has written, despite owning what feels like dozens of his books.
Best things about this back cover:

  • Was it a trap? It's a trap! I hear it's a trap.
  • Even this premise sounds boring. They left to avoid oppression. But then they got a message: "Oppression over!" Should they believe the message? Wait, stop, why are you putting the book back on the shelf? OK, no, wait, there's seexxxxxxxx...." Shelf time unlimited.
  • "The Top-Selling American Book In Russia" is one of the weirdest promo claims I've ever seen on a book. I'm not even sure what that's supposed to signify to me.
  • 1961: Everybody's Reading "The Gadfly"! 2018: Nobody Has Heard of "The Gadfly"!

Page 123~
"We'd better plan our next moves in advance. Also, it's time for a rest and a snack."
Finally, scifi I can relate to.


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Monday, May 21, 2018

Paperback 1021: Horns for the Devil / Louis Malley (Pocket Books 894)

Paperback 1021: Pocket Books 894 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Horns for the Devil
Author: Louis Malley
Cover artist: George Erickson

Condition: 7/10
Estimated value: $10-15

Best things about this cover:
  • "I Want You ... For U.S. Mafia"
  • Not many covers break the fourth wall quite this breakingly. "Who are you? You got my sandwiches?! Well then whaddya want? Shut the fuckin' door! You lookin' at my girl!? Jerry, Lou, show this guy what for!"
  • This is a fantastic cavalcade of mugs. Hall-of-Fame B-movie extras. Just hanging around, waiting for someone to call them up for another stint in Generic Mid-Century American Crime Story. "Our regular Girl At Bar No. 3 turned her ankle. You're in, kid!"
  • It's not exactly like the work of director Louis Malle, but it is ... Malle-y.
Best things about this back cover:
  • "Look here! Now I'm big and two-toned and my background is Rage Red! Where's my *&%^ing coffee?!"
  • Severio Lebbrosa! That means "seriously like a leopard."
  • No, no, no, it's "first you get the money, then you get the power, *THEN* you get the women." Come on, man. Did you not watch "Scarface?"

Page 123~

When they got out of the car Ralph squeezed her hand, but she wanted more than that. It had come so suddenly.
This was the very least boring sentence, which is wedged in between a conversation with an old lady and a scintillating drive to Westchester. I probably shoulda just let you think it was prelude to a steamy sex scene. Sorry.


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Monday, May 7, 2018

Paperback 1020: The Lineup / Frank Kane (Dell First Edition B125)

Paperback 1020: Dell First Edition B125 (PBO, 1959)

Title: The Lineup
Author: Frank Kane
Cover artist: Victor Kalin

Condition: 6.5/10
Estimated value: $10-12

Best things about this cover:
  • So gorgeous. Victor Kalin with that insane take on the police interrogation lamp, but instead of the perp being all sweaty and nervous, this lady's like "What the fuck do you bozos want?" It's not a harsh light of intimidation, but a warm, caramel light revealing the real power in the room. "Keys? ... What keys?"
  • That dress! That posture! Sorry, bullet point 2 is just gonna be an extension of bullet point 1. She is all style and attitude. Those dough-faced dudes are inconsequential and marginal and now they know it. I love her.
  • Whenever anyone tells you that smoking can be sexy, this is what they're talking about. It allows people to reveal themselves gesturally. Her hands are mesmerizing. Also: lips, nails, dress—all on point. The Drab Twins don't know what to do.
Best things about this back cover:
  • Mid-century S.F. = So Hot. This is the S.F. of "Vertigo." Do the cable cars still run? They were iconic in my youth (I was born in S.F.).
  • Wait, what? MY name is Ben Guthrie!!!!? Second person!? Hoo, boy, sign me up. And thanks for not making me "Matt Greb," as Greb is a name you'd make up in a panicked haste if you were really bad at making up names
  • Today, November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day...
  • "... you put your cop phone to your cop ear, sit on your cop ass, and say with your cop mouth, 'What?'"
  • What, a novelization of a TV show!? O please O please (checks youtube...) Oh, cool. Looks like its name got changed to "San Francisco Beat," but here ya go!!!

Page 123~
"I"d say you were all trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, Doc," Greb added. "Must feel a little foolish taking the fall alone."
"Metaphor? check! Cop patter? check! Man, I am killing it at my job today!"—Greb, in his head, probably.


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Friday, May 4, 2018

Paperback 1019: The Primitive / Chester Himes (Signet 1264)

Paperback 1019: Signet 1264 (PBO, 1956)

Title: The Primitive
Author: Chester Himes
Cover artist: [Tony Kokinos] (signature top left)

Condition: 6.5/10
Estimated value: $30

Best things about this cover:
  • White lady trying hard not to think about centuries of brutal racism and her own complicity therein ... I assume.
  • There's drunk, there's very drunk, and then there's "I only made it half way through taking my shoes off" drunk
  • The red of the red shoes is very red against the non-color of everything else. Echoes the title font color. I like.
  • This novel was heavily cut for the US audience, which, like, couldn't deal, I guess. It was published right before Himes made the turn into hardboiled crime fiction with his Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones series (so great)
Best things about this back cover:
  • The End of a Primitive was the original title of the book (the title used when the book was finally published in unexpurgated versions, 40+ years later)
  • So the white woman is just white but the "Negro man" is "embittered"? Normally I don't beg for more adjectives, but come on.
  • Van Vechten tryna get cute with that "white heat" shit, I bet. He's a white dude who wrote a book called Ni**er Heaven. A key figure in white people's "discovering" Harlem. I highly recommend Mat Johnson's current comic, Incognegro: Renaissance, which is set in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and features a Van Vechten-like figure in the first issue. Good stuff.
Page 123~
"Oh, sure," he said, thinking, "I like de big gut, do you like de big gut?"

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