" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Arrivals

Yesterday I managed to sneak in a visit to Fair's Fair books 
while my wife and a friend shopped for some Mid Century Items 
down the street. Yippee!!

You never know what a used book store will yield. 
This trip the gems were a number of Paul Lehr covers.

A great Paul Lehr with a full scale figure, cool.

Beyond Tomorrow cover uncredited.

I knew I wanted this Brunner the second I saw the cover 
on the web. It was nice to find it without paying
 ABE pricing. The artist's name is under the right toe 
(your right) it is hard to make out,  
ISFDB states it "Appears to be PDRICK".

This copy of Venus Equilateral has a nice Jack Gaughan cover. 
I am not a huge fan of his work but I like the old school
ship and space station. This edition was printed in 1967 
but the stories appeared in Astounding starting in
1942 so the cover fits.

Peter Jones, I have a sentimental attachment to his work.
I also like the Weird Tales connection to early SF  and the 
contents looked fun. 

A Word about Weird essay, Robert Bloch
Preface, Mike Ashley
Skulls in the Stars, Robert Howard
The Three Marked Pennies, Mary Elizabeth Counselman
He That Hath Wings, Edmond Hamilton
The Distortion Out of Space, Francis Flagg
The Utmost Abomination, Clark Ashton Smith and Lin Carter
Eternal Rediffusion, Eric Frank Russell and Leslie J. Johnson
The Drucker, Ray Bardbury
The Black Kiss, Henry Kuttner and Robert Bloch
The Survivor, HPL and August Derleth 

Friday, November 25, 2016

David Kyle 1919-2016

I just learned that David Kyle passed away in Sept 2016. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes that he was a member of First Fandom and a writer, publisher, and illustrator. He was, with Martin Greenberg, a founder of Gnome Press perhaps the greatest of all the SF small presses. It also has some of the coolest book covers. He was the author of three authorized adventures in E.E. "Doc" Smith Lensmen series each devoted to one of the non-human Second Stage Lensman. Some 20 years ago I received a number of books on SF film and illustration from a friend. It was two books by Kyle that I consider largely responsible for my interest in the history of SF and its appearance in pulp magazines. They also help convert me from a reader of SF to someone who actively collected a wide range of SF titles and authors.



Ideas & Dreams: cover based on Amazing Stories 
cover (May 1944) by Malcolm Smith

Science Fiction: cover based on Thrilling Wonder Stories 
cover (Oct. 1936) by Howard V. Brown

Left: Back cover by Frank R. Paul appeared in  
Amazing Stories (Dec. 1941) Serenis, Water City of Callisto

Right: Back cover by Frank R. Paul appeared in  
Amazing Stories (April 1942) A city in the 21st Century

To  see more of Paul's Wonderful images please see the link 
below to the great blog Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased.


The Second Stage Lensmen Books, Bantam, 1980-1983
The cover artist for two out of three is Bob Larkin

Some Gnome Press Titles

Children of the Atom, cover by Frank Kelley Frease (1953)

City, cover by Frank Kelley Frease (1952)

Cosmic Engineers, cover by Edd Cartier (1950)

Iceworld, cover by Ric Binkley (1953)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I go in Search of Wonder ( Sit down Damon I will get to you )

A lot has been said about the Sense of Wonder in SF. Recently some books appeared on ABE that have caused me to launch my own search. I intend to discuss, on an ongoing basis, titles that capture what "wonder" means to me. I have Damon Knight's book as well as other books of SF criticism, but at present I will use the four short quotes below, from the article "Sense of Wonder" in the online version of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction to provide some parameters for my search.

"Sense of wonder" is an interesting critical phrase, for it defines sf not by its content but by its effect."

""The second interesting thing about "sense of wonder" is that, by consensus, it can be found par excellence in a number of books that are usually regarded as rather badly written."

"The "sense of wonder" comes not from brilliant writing nor even from brilliant conceptualizing; it comes from a sudden opening of a closed door in the reader's mind."

"it is created by the writer putting the readers in a position from which they can glimpse for themselves, with no further auctorial aid, a scheme of things where mankind is seen in a new perspective."

The first story I have identified is "Twilight" by Don. A Stuart (John W Campbell) an old favourite, the second, a novel I may or may not have read many years ago but remembered nothing of, I (re)read last week Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

The same vendor that was selling Wonder's Child 
also had this beautiful set of the Starchild Trilogy, 
 1973 (2nd ed.) with lovely covers by Jacques Wyrs.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Frank Herbert #2, The Eyes of Heisenberg

The Eyes of Heisenberg, Frank Herbert, A Berkley Medallion Book, 1976, cover artist Paul Lehr.

"They are the power that loves and cares for us" p13

When I decided to look at Herbert's work, I began to pick up editions with different cover art, I enjoy comparing how a book is presented to the buying public so here are different views of the The Eyes of Heisenberg, I think my favourite is David O'Connor's  treatment of the globe shaped control centre of the Optimen triumvirate.

In The Eyes of Heisenberg Herbert gives us the story of a static society threatened by change. At present, society is ruled by a sterile immortal class called Optimen, (both men and women) the rest of society are called The Folk who can be divided into Sterries, the majority of people whose status is maintained by an ever present prophylactic gas and a select few who are designated for breeding. They provide the genetic material from which all future generations including Optimen are created. Embryos are vat raised once they have been cut, altered by sub cellular engineers to ensure no mutants, monsters or unique individuals that deviate from the standard average are present. Three of the Optimen form a ruling triumvirate whose membership periodically changes, and the rest can monitor events remotely as desired. All societal change has been curtailed including things like sea farming or space exploration. References to death, infirmity even worn equipment are avoided when talking to Optimen and the term doctor is not used. Many of the Folk have imbued the Optimen with a quasi divine status similar to saints and wear medallions or other tokens to invoke their aid in acquiring the status of breeders.  However there is resistance in the form of secret organization called Parents Underground and there is also reference to a Optimen Cyborg war in the past. 

The current story begins when Dr Thei Svengaard i.e. a sub cellular engineer is preparing to "cut" or alter the embryo of Lizbeth and Harvey Durant. He is upset because problems with the embryo have required him to enlist the assistance of a specialist Vyaslav Potter and also because, as allowed under Public Law 10927, the Durants have asked to watch the cut something that almost never occurs. Once the Durants arrive it is obvious that they are not innocent breeders that can be dissuaded for exercising their rights. They have a highly developed ability to read Svengaard's body language and communicate with each other the same way, they also have had access to forbidden literature and information the Cyborgs provide to the Parents Underground. Svengaard does not realize this and has them taken to the viewing room while he prepares for the procedure. It is during this procedure that things begin to go wrong. "Svengaard swung the meson microscope over the Durant vat, adjusting for low amplification to minimize Heisenberg interference. One look could not hurt." p 13 But of course it does. " He stood frozen at the viewer as a thing seen only eight previous times in the history of gene-shaping took place within his field of vision. A  thin line like a distant contrail reached into the cellular structure from the left. It wound through a coiled-coil of alpha helices, found the folded ends of the polypeptide chains in a myosin molecule, twisted and dissolved." p14. The Durant embryo is no longer standard and the Durants, Svengaard and Potter are drawn willing or not into a conspiracy against Optimen rule.

A surreal interpretation by Hoot von Zitzewitz?  (ISFD) 1966

The Optimen leader Calapine by Paul Alexander (1976)

A number of the themes or ideas that Herbert will develop in other stores are here such as an interest in genetics engineering and a stratified society.  Many can also be found in his classic Dune sequence, the Durant's powers of communication and "body reading" seems similar the abilities of the Bene Gesserit, it is revealed that the oldest Optimen is 80,000 years old and that Optimen rule has resulted in stagnation similar to the extremely long rule of Leto II Atreides in the Dune novels. The conversion of a long lived ruling class to a religious or mythic status also occurs in Dune. While I often complain about the excessive length of current SF novels at 156 pages The Eyes of Heisenberg could have been longer. I did feel that the society created was complex enough that I would have liked to see it described more fully, I also felt the Optimen Cyborg conflict both historic and current, and the Cyborgs in general could have benefited from a more detailed treatment. But I quite enjoyed the novel and found upon rereading portions for this post there were levels of complexity I missed the first time.

David O'Connor cover, NEL reprinted 1981

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chris Foss

I love finding runs of books that appeal to me in the used bookstore. A few years ago I encountered several volumes of James's Blish's books with matching covers depicting beautiful cityscapes with a muted blue green palette that really spoke to me.  I am reorganizing my books and when I encountered them I thought they would make a nice post.

Chris Foss has a website at http://www.chrisfossart.com/

 The SF Encyclopedia notes that Foss was hugely influential especially in 1970's British  SF illustration. Vincent De Fate in his book Infinite Worlds The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art, describes Chris Foss  as "British gadget artist Chris Foss" he also states that he wanted to include him in the book but negotiations fell through. I think this is an apt description even more than in the work of Frank R Paul, whose giant machines I love, in Foss's work the machine is the thing. I have to say I think the publishers of the Arrow covers and the Asimov boxed set could have done a better job on the quality of the reproductions.

I think my favourite covers are The Naked Sun which I 
pounced on immediately on a work trip to Edmonton,
and The Overman Culture.

My attribution of Time in Eclipse to Foss is based on the style 
and small F in the sand.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A survey of Time Travel in Science Fiction / Reading, Collecting and Writing Science Fiction

My wife sent me two links I want to share. The first a review of Time Travel: A History by James Gleick, by John Lancaster in the New York Review of Books. The glimpses Lancaster offers of Wells, Gernsback, Heinlein, the fourth Dimension and the Grandfather Paradox in his review lead me to expect great things of the actual book, which I have added to my Christmas list.


The second an article called Universe Collecting: the art of reading and buying science fiction by Joshua Sky from Omni Nov. 7, 2016. I found this article very engaging, Joshua obviously shares both my enjoyment of the SF short story

" Lately, I’ve tried to cut down the amount of time I spend on the internet, reading instead. It's been rewarding. My writing and critical thinking have improved, and I find the activity meditative.  I try to read at least one short story every night before bed.  I believe short fiction is having a comeback, because of the brevity of the format, coupled with the depth and quality obtainable within just a few pages. "

and the book as physical object

" I tried to do the E-Reader thing, and I enjoy the conveniences of reading on a Kindle and iPad, but it's just not the same. I see books as individual pieces of artwork. The layout, the cover art, the joy of physically holding the text when the pages have you enthralled in its story, all have its own individual and irreplaceable value. Also, it's far easier to flip and find random passages, or chapters than trying to swipe left-or-right on a screen. Further, as my life stands, I'm tired of staring at screens, the written page is a delightful respite. "


Hopefully you will enjoy these links as much as I did.