Saturday, April 13, 2019

Vintage Sci-Fi Covers

Today is a bit of a detour from the usual GDB offerings, but I hope that you will enjoy it anyway.

Long story short; my mom used to be a science fiction nut! Back in the 1950's she read sci-fi voraciously in her mid-to-late teens. And many of her old paperback books remained in her old bedroom in my grandparent's house in Encino for decades afterwards. The bedroom had two twin beds, so it was where my brother and I slept when we visited, and I loved to go through the bookcase and look at these fantastic (literally!) volumes. 

Arthur C. Clarke was one of her favorites... here are two covers that I particularly like, especially "Tales From the White Hart". I have read five or six works by Clarke, but not these two.

After my both of my grandparents passed away, I kept my mom's sci-fi books, moving them around as I went off to school and then to different living situations. And eventually I decided that I just couldn't lug them around any more. Yes... I sold them on eBay. I'm not proud of it. But at least I still have my scans of the wonderful cover art. The pictures I am sharing today are some of my favorites.

Here are two great covers of books by another science fiction legend, Theodore Sturgeon. One of his most famous books is "More Than Human", and he also wrote two "Star Trek" episodes including the fan-favorite "Amok Time". Pon Farr, yo! The cover on the right looks like it was painted by another sci-fi legend,  Richard M. Powers.

My mom introduced me to Ray Bradbury's works when I was young, and I eventually read as many of his books as I could get. She particularly loved "Dandelion Wine", which is a good one! I just love the varied graphic styles used on these covers - the one on the left must be from the 60's, with it's echoes of psychedelia.

Here are two very different versions of "The Martian Chronicles" - another great book! Thinking back, I also loved "Something Wicked This Way Comes", "The Halloween Tree", and of course "Fahrenheit 451".

Seeing these covers now, I wish I had read the contents! But there were "MAD" magazines to read. You understand.

Many of my mom's books were collections of SF stories, featuring familiar authors like John W. Campbell, Roger Price, Robert Heinlein, Leigh Brackett, and so on.

And finally, here are two more evocative covers. Looks like another Richard M. Powers painting on the left. "The Circus of Dr. Lao" had a fun movie very loosely based on it ("7 Faces of Dr. Lao"), directed by George Pal. I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I loved it whenever it showed up on TV.

I tell myself "You can't keep everything!", but I really do wish I'd kept this great collection of my mother's science fiction paperback books. I still have one or two (including her copy of "Dandelion Wine") so that is some consolation.

NOTE: To the folks who checked in to GDB earlier in the morning, I mistakenly had TWO posts that published today. After some consideration, I finally decided to just remove the extra post, in spite of the fact that it had some comments (apologies to those people). This is what happens when I write many posts long in advance and then move them around the calendar. The rest of you will see those photos and the text on some future "Anything Goes Saturday".


TokyoMagic! said...

Major, the artwork on all of these is just wonderful. In the past, I have said that same line, "You can't keep everything!" prior to getting rid of some things, and then regretted it later. We have probably all done that before. Fortunately, you thought to scan the covers, before parting with them!

Thank you, for sharing these with us!

Melissa said...

Your Mom is one cool chick! I love both the title and cover of E Pluribus Unicorn.

Bradbury has always been a particular favorite of mine, as well. I love his book on the writing process, and even though it hasn't turned me into a writer I don't feel like reading it was a waste of my time.

And here he is matching wits with the one, the only Groucho!

Scott Lane said...

Three cheers for the Golden Age of Sci Fi! Modern book covers pale by comparison.

On a side note: TWO posts today? Or were the books reading material for our trip on the Aquarama.

In these parts, if you said "Aquarama" in the 60's or 70's people thought of this:

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I have kept a LOT of random stuff, but getting rid of these books was definitely a mistake. Oh well, life goes on!

Melissa, I’ll have to check out his book on writing, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I went through a period, probably in my teens, where I read a lot of Bradbury, and then… didn’t read any for a long time. I went and got his autograph at a bookstore in Pasadena, which was neat. Talk about a long line! Where is that signed book now? I have no idea.

Scott Lane… d’oh. I spent half an hour moving various future posts around, and wound up with two (by mistake, of course) for today. I’ve deleted the extra post as of 5:30 (Pacific time), and will probably repost it on some future Saturday, so… apologies for anyone who left comments. Plus those people get to see the same photos and info again. That’s what they get for looking at GDB so early! ;-)

Warren Nielsen said...

Good morning Major,

I have never been a fan of science fiction, it's not really my thing, but I can completely understand the difficulties and regrets of keeping or not keeping items of sentimental value to either a loved one or yourself. Memories are great, but there is something special about a physical, tangible connection to those memories.

I too happened to catch the "oooops" double post early this morning. It make me wonder for a minute if I had totally lost a day somehow. (Brain is a bit fuzzy at 2 AM) I am looking forward to the comments when you do post it "officially." By the way, those "Italian" cars look like Nash Metropolitans.


K. Martinez said...

Oh man! I missed out on a "bonus" sneak preview post? Bummer! That'll teach me to come to the party late. ;-)

Love these vintage sci-fi covers. I have many vintage sci-fi paperbacks myself. I'm not only into horror big time, but sci-fi as well. To me, sci-fi paperback covers are right up there with vintage pulp and crime paperbacks. Very cool.

Ray Bradbury is my favorite writer along with Stephen King. I'm not sure if I'd consider Bradbury hard science fiction, but more fantasy horror with sci-fi trappings. Either way, I love his work. He fired up my imagination in my youth. There are so many other sci-fi writers that I think are great.

What an era it was for vintage paperbacks. Thanks for sharing this, Major. One of my favorite subjects and I love these covers.

stu29573 said...

Ward Kimball was a huge Sci-Fi fan (and UFO fan), which was why Walt let him do the Tomorrowland Man in Space series. Well, long story short, I found a Firehouse Five Plus Two album from George Pal's estate that was signed from Ward to George! It's now one of my treasures!

Nanook said...


As Scott Lane intoned... Three cheers for the Golden Age of Sci Fi! Modern book covers pale by comparison. Kinda the way the days of the great movie poster One Sheet [and and its ilk] have befallen the same fate, as they have now moved beyond mediocrity into sheer garbage. I feel your pain at the decision to 'purge' parts of your collection, but also know how that goes-! The "stuff" I've thrown-away over the years... Oh, brother-! (At least Walt's autograph managed to survive all previous 'sackings').

Thanks, Major, for sharing these beauties.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, Oooooh, is that an autograph that you got in person???

JC Shannon said...

Major, you can keep everything provided you have unlimited funds and space. Well, that's me done for. Like music in a movie, art sets the tone for a book. Love the graphics and titles. I do wish I had my coonskin cap and rubber tomahawk from the park, oh and my alpenhat with the feather. Thanks Major.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
Naw, that was another occasion; but it is personalized. The Major posted it in these 'pages', some years back; I don't remember when, tho.

@ JC Shannon-
I still have the coonskin cap - probably from 1956 - but its 'tail' has detached from the hat, proper. And in the meantime, well... my head has grown just a tad (at least on the inside) if not all-around.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
You can relive those "Walt autograph moments" from the December 5, 2011 GDB post.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, Thanks for that info. Gee, seven and a half years ago....time flies, huh? I do remember that post now, after seeing it again......WOWIE KAZOWIE! ;-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Warren, I seem to go through phases when it comes to reading; I’ll really be into history, and then biographies, and then back to novels. It’s going to be a while before you see the “oooops” post, maybe 2 months!

K. Martinez, ha ha, you didn’t miss that much. Plus it’ll publish again in June, I think. I used to haunt used bookstores, and while I didn’t care about paperback books, there were often tons of old Sci-Fi books. I wanted to buy them just for the cover art! But I have SO many darn books. I miss the days when I was a kid, and my mom and dad had a full finished basement (back east). One entire wall was book cases. It was fantastic! I’ve read plenty of Stephen King, like you, but stopped (with a few exceptions) keeping up with him at least 20 years ago.

stu29573, so amazing!

Nanook, it is so true, movie posters are generally pretty boring nowadays. As a fan of vintage illustration, I love the days when they were almost always painted. Even Drew Struzan’s later posters are better than the photoshopped “two big faces” posters that we get today. Some marketing person has decided that audiences want boring designs I guess.

TokyoMagic!, I see that Nanook is going to fill you in, otherwise I would.

Jonathan, I need to buy an abandoned missile silo (in Colorado, perhaps), then I’ll have all the room I need for all of my stuff!

Nanook, there mere thought that your Walt autograph could have been throw away makes me ill.

Nanook again, I reread that post, what a great story.

TokyoMagic!, if I had to guess, I would have said that the post was from 5 years ago. 7.5? No way!

Clyde Hughes said...

Thanks for these great covers!
Wasn't "High Vacuum" what they used to use to clean the park at night? ;-)