Saturday, November 29, 2014

Paperback 839: Man from Tomorrow / Wilson Tucker (Bantam 1343)

Paperback 839: Bantam 1343 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: Man From Tomorrow
Author: Wilson Tucker
Cover artist: Uncredited

Approximate value: $6-10


Best things about this cover:

  • "OK, so main guy shoots beams out of his eyes, and then the lady in his head shoots beams out of her face and … I don't know … let's say, whirlpool aliens wicker man done. Got it?"
  • This floating head has his own internal floating head. That's pretty high-end.
  • Font colors are wicked stupid.
  • Ooh, this novel "tells of something which may be happening now." Ooh, is it Armageddon? Winter? The Greater Rochester Arts & Crafts Festival!? I'm gonna have to read this.


Best things about this back cover:
  • And the razor frisbee takes out another alien.
  • "Perhaps" … way to sell it!
  • The Paul Breens = your next band name.

Page 123~

Paul wondered if this new woman in the adjoining apartment would be a plant.

"A ficus, maybe," he fantasized.


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Paperback 838: Hell-Town in Texas / Leslie Ernenwein (Avon 873)

Paperback 838: Avon 873 (2nd ptg?, 1960)

Title: Hell-Town in Texas
Author: Leslie Ernenwein
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $15-20


Best things about this cover:

  • Are there other kinds of towns in Texas?
  • Despite appearing relatively generic, there's actually something spare, pared-down, and gorgeous about this cover. The pure blue background gives a sense of delicacy to the men and horses, and that dust is some kind of abstract magic. Just great.
  • Books don't come in better condition than this. Off-the-shelf new. Sparkly, even.


Best things about this back cover:

  • But what's his name!?
  • Clyde Lambert grabbed a fish, but Marshal Terhune stopped him: "No, Clyde. Not Missouri Style. *Texas* Style." So they dueled with grapefruits.
  • That's a pretty nice marshal sketch, truth be told. Only marshals and stone-cold fops can get away with an ascot like that.

Page 123~

Contacting the same friends who'd turned down the Oro Kid scheme, he found them eager to invest their savings in his sawmill proposition.

There's two great crime novel titles right there: "The Oro Kid Scheme" and "The Sawmill Proposition."  You're welcome, writers.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Paperback 837: The Dream Master / Roger Zelazny (Ace 16701)

Paperback 837: Ace Books 16701 (PBO, 1966)

Title: The Dream Master
Author: Roger Zelazny
Cover artist: Kelly Freas

Estimated value: $5-10


Best things about this cover:

  • Would make a good cover for "Gawain and the Green Knight," or "Gawain and the Floating Head with Three Eyes."
  • I really should read Zelazny. My scifi knowledge is actually pretty poor. My new obsession with Leigh Brackett may change that, though.
  • I like the play of light on the armor and plume. And the bold white line following "THE"—all nice design details.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Uh … yellow?
  • "to redirect and control"—that's a bold use of bold.

Page 123~

The enormous salad waited on the floor.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paperback 836: The Jungle Seas / Arthur A. Ageton (Signet S1200)

Paperback 836: Signet Giant S1200 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: The Jungle Seas
Author: Arthur A. Ageton
Cover artist: James Meese

Estimated value: $5-10


Best things about this cover:

  • "I think that's … yeah, that's just a freckle, Kathy. You're gonna be fine."
  • Navy Vampires of Tonga!
  • He likes it when you scratch him here. *Really* likes it.
  • James Meese wants you to know that he can sure as hell paint hands. All hands, all day, mother*ckers!


Best things about this back cover:

  • Dude's like, "Squirrel!?"
  • "… a book to join THE CAINE MUTINY … on that shelf of books I haven't read."
  • "full-bodied" [wink!]

Page 123~

"Yes, sir. Was I groaning?"
"Were you groaning? Boy, you let out a scream that scared me right out of a sound sleep. Who's Rogers?"

"Uh … Rogers? … uh … he's this guy … you know … definitely not a former lover, if that's what you're thinking … oh, no wait. I mean 'Ginger'! 'Ginger Rogers!' Forget that other stuff I said. Ginger Rogers. Guys scream for her, right? Right. Ginger."


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Paperback 835: Butcher's Dozen / John Bartlow Martin (Signet 909)

Paperback 835: Signet 909 (1st ptg, 1952)

Title: Butcher's Dozen
Author: John Bartlow Martin
Cover artist: Harry Schaare

Estimated value: $12-$18


Best things about this cover:

  • "Larry, are you… are you even trying? I feel like I'm doing all the work here. Would you lift for real, please? My calves are freezing."
  • Larry's a sucker for a left boob. "She's dead, Larry. Give it a rest."
  • Oooh, the *authorized* abridgment! I've been looking everywhere for this. Said no one.
  • "Torso Murders!" It's about a guy who really hates Greek statuary.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Never The Completely Sane Butcher. Not once. Unfair to butchers!
  • Whoa, "dismembered his victims in a sadistic, sex-crazed frenzy" is pretty gruesome stuff. Lady on cover appears to have all her limbs, so maybe she's not dead after all. You're off the hook, Larry. Sort of.
  • Dude looks like a lecherous psychologist.

Page 123~

On February 8 Klansmen and bootleggers clashed in the center of Herrin, and Caesar Cagle was killed. (Art Newman later claimed that one of the Shelton boys had put a pistol to Cagle's ear and, when he started to turn, said "Oops, too late," and shot him; this cannot have been quite true, since Cagle was shot in the chest.)

If by "cannot have been quite true" you mean "cannot have been true," then yes.


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paperback 834: The Lying Days / Nadine Gordimer (Signet D1237)

Paperback 834: Signet D1237 (1st ptg, 1955)

Title: The Lying Days
Author: Nadine Gordimer
Cover artist: James Avati

Estimated value: No idea (only one copy listed at abebooks, and it's a laughable $276.58) (Real value probably closer to $20)


Best things about this cover:

  • Everything I don't like about Avati rolled into a neat, boring ball. Still. Inert. Dull.
  • This one is so inert that you are encouraged to see it as a photo, and not a real woman. The flowers laid over the top are a nice touch, but the overall effect of this cover is still snoresville.
  • "More Exciting" is not a convincing direct quote.
  • OK, her shoulder's kind of hot. And that is generally the best thing I can ever say about an Avati cover: "Kinda hot." He's an artist that likes to paint vaguely sexy situations, but emphasis on "vaguely."


Best things about this back cover:

  • Nadine Gordimer would go on to win the Nobel Prize. I believe this is her first novel.
  • Her author photo is fantastic.
  • I read the first few pages of this just now. Deeply concerned about race, as you might expect from someone writing from deep inside Apartheid-riven South Africa.

Page 123~

Joel, from whose book and whose talk I was even beginning to see that the houses we lived in in Atherton and on the Mine did not make use of space and brightness and air, but, like a woman with bad features and a poor complexion who seeks to distract with curls and paint, had their defects smothered in lace curtains and their dark corners filled with strands of straggling plants which existed for these awkward angles between wall and wall, as one evil exists simply for another.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Paperback 833: The Door Through Space / Marion Zimmer Bradley // Rendezvous on a Lost World / A. Bertram Chandler (Ace F-117)

Paperback 833: Ace Double F-117 (PBO / PBO 1961)

Titles: The Door Through Space / Rendezvous on a Lost World
Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley / A. Bertram Chandler
Cover artist: Ed Emshwiller / Ed Emshwiller

Estimated value: $10-15


Best things about this cover:

  • "40 Demons!?" "No, 4-D Demons!" "…?"
  • Even the giantest Fear Hand could not protect the galaxy's skinniest spaceship from the flamboyant-yet-savage robot birds!
  • *That's* your "Door Through Space"? Looks more like "Archway To Pool Party."
  • Emshwiller's covers are awesome to look at. He likes to include all this random ornate decoration and machinery. Here, I particularly admire the oil rig/water slide/clock tower gizmo in the lower right. The people in the party seem to dig it, too. Maybe it is their god.


Best things about this other cover:
  • Damn Ikea ceiling fans! Come on!
  • #LostWorldProblems
  • Imaginary space suits are So Much Cooler than real ones. I think I found my next Halloween costume.
  • I did not know the word "cybernetic" (or "cyber-" anything) went this far back.

Page 123~

It cannot possibly have produced the illusion of two figures, Captain and Captain's lady—and which Veronica was it?—walking, arm in arm, up the ramp to the yelllow-lit circle of the airlock. And the most impossible illusion of all, perhaps, was that of the man who stood there to greet them. I saw his face plainly as I approached, just before the odd scene winked out into nothingness.

It was my own.

End of story! Whoa, did not see that coming. P.S. spoiler alert. P.P.S. "Which Veronica Was It?" is a scifi Archie story waiting to happen.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Paperback 832: The Unknown / ed. D. R. Bensen (Pyramid T2326)

Paperback 832: Pyramid T2326 (2nd ptg, 1970) (reprints Pyramid R-851)

Title: The Unknown
Editor: D. R. Bensen
Cover artist: Brad Johannsen
Illustrator: Edd Cartier
Introduction: Isaac Asmiov

Estimated value: $7-8


Best things about this cover:

  • Seriously, *everyone* in 1970 was high on LSD 24/7. It was the law.
  • Self-help + horror = this.
  • "Hey, doc, I dreamt my mother got jaundice and then she smiled and started bleeding tiddlywinks out her eyeballs … whaddya think it means?"
  • Those milk bottle-sized hypos are terrifying. Before I saw the little hash marks on the ones in the foreground, I just thought they were the topless towers of her (her?) imaginary dreamscape, man.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh. Text.
  • All wonderful authors. This collection is probably worth reading.
  • Second Coming of Satan, eh? OK, I'm in.
  • I like the "****" bit toward the end because I can imagine it means "[expletive deleted]."

Page 123~ (from "Doubled and Redoubled" by Malcolm Jameson)

Jimmy Childers went with alacrity.

Keep your bathroom habits to yourself, Jimmy.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Friday, November 14, 2014

Paperback 831: April Evil / John D. MacDonald (Gold Medal d1579)

Paperback 831: Gold Medal d1579 (1st thus, 1965)

Title: April Evil
Author: John D. MacDonald
Cover artist: Bill Johnson

Estimated value: $10-$15


Best things about this cover:

  • The hot new book that finally answers the question: How many trenchcoated, fedoraed detectives does it take to find a lost contact lens?
  • You know what they say: April Evil brings May Bondage.
  • After looking at this picture, I wonder if it's not the "hold-up gang" that's "sleepy."
  • This is a fine, if weird, painting. Good use of small canvas. Her simple white top and blue skirt, surrounded by the lurking, drab frames of generic menace, make her really pop off the page.


Best things about this back cover:

  • Ugh.
  • Don't you hate it when women choose the easy sluttish rut? Challenge yourselves, ladies!
  • How can you be "going to flab" while "losing something in the guts department"? Writing 101: don't let your stupid metaphors cancel each other out.

Page 123~

She smiled, and she felt cat-agile, rabbit-soft, mare-ready.

This was a vast improvement from a half hour earlier, when she had felt dog-tired, armadillo-hard, and lemur-unprepared.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paperback 830: Trinity in Violence / Henry Kane (Avon 618)

Paperback 830: Avon 618 (PBO, 1955)

Title: Trinity in Violence
Author: Henry Kane
Cover artist: Uncredited

Estimated value: $10-$15


Best things about this cover:

  • A great cover mucked up by someone's bright idea of a teaser. "Let's put the first words of the book on the cover! It'll be revolutionary!" "Where are we gonna put them?" "Why … here, right across the bottom half of the dame. Nobody likes dames on covers anyway. It's words, Words they cry for!"
  • I feel like she's so pinned in by darkness that we really Need the color from the bottom half of her dress. It honestly takes me several takes, every time I look at this thing, to realize it's a fur over her right shoulder and not some weird dark thing in the foreground blocking my view.
  • Also, is the apartment building on fire? If not, why is there thick black smoke around the title?
  • She looks an awful lot like my second college girlfriend. My girlfriend tended to wear more clothes and carry fewer guns than this lady, but still … if this lady we're looking at is named "Rosie" (as that damned block of text suggests), then that's another weird connection, as "Rose" was an element of my girlfriend's name.
  • There's something quintessential about this cover. Not great on its own, but great at capturing a certain cover type: generic, be-hatted, trenchcoated sap stands in as proxy for reader/viewer. Doesn't matter what he looks like. It matters what She looks like. And it matters that she's trouble.


Best things about this back cover:

  • I love the primitive video game-like swarm of armed "A" logos. I just need a Peter Chambers icon and a joystick.
  • Henry Kane looks like he wants desperately to escape the photo shoot.
  • "The Scandinavian?"

Page 123~
He nudged a pinky-point at his thin mustache.
From his picture, it looks like Henry Kane knows from thin mustaches. Authenticity, thy name is Kane.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Paperback 829: Up Above the World / Paul Bowles (Pocket Books 75222)

Paperback 829: Pocket Books 75222 (1st ptg, 1968)

Title: Up Above the World
Author: Paul Bowles
Cover artist: Harry Bennett

Estimated Value: $9


Best things about this cover:
  • Ooh, I love legitimate fiction. So classy.
  • Swamp glove monkey scarf something something.
  • Attempt to break most obscure Guinness World Record goes horribly, unspeakably wrong.
  • There was a brief, terrible period in the '60s where cover artist just mashed all pictorial elements together into ugly globs.


Best things about this back cover:
  • Paul Bowles! That name again … Paul Bowles! Thanks, boring cover.
  • "… with mere strokes of words" (so *that's* how writing works)
  • I want to change "gifts" to "cocks" in that last blurb. Just 'cause.

Page 123~

She hesitated and took a sip of coffee. "But what have we got in common?"


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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Other Books, Other Covers: Grendel / John Gardner (Ballanatine 28865)

Title: Grendel
Author: John Gardner
Cover artist: Michael Leonard
Illustrated by: Emil Antonucci

Estimated value: a few bucks

[Happy belated Halloween!]

[Wraparound! Medieval King Kong's got some flexible toes.]

Page 123~
I snatch up a stone and hurl it. It smashes his mouth, spraying out teeth, and penetrates to the jugular. He drops to his knees, gets up again. The air is sweet with the scent of his blood. Death shakes his body the way high wind shakes trees. He climbs toward me. I snatch up a stone.

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