• Sci-Fi Sundays: Analog, December 1962

    2019 started off with a rather interesting tweet from Elon Musk. He was showing off the "Starship test flight rocket" from SpaceX. This thing evokes a strong bit of imagery that has been so deeply integrated into our culture through science fiction for so many years that it just feels… right.
    (more…)

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds of IF Science Fiction, August 1964

    This cover illustration may not be striking enough to pull your attention from across the room. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, it just isn't an overwhelmingly dynamic composition or subject matter.

    There's a guy patching a hole in what appears to be a giant space balloon holding atmosphere for people inside.  Not horrible, but not inspiring. As usual when this is the case, I start to look around at what was happening in the world.

    As it turns out, 1964 brings us some amazing space stories, such as the "Afronauts"

    The US and the Soviet Union were deep in competition at this point, pushing further and further outward, with sights set on the moon. A Zambian school teacher named Edward Makuka Nikoloso, inspired by Zambia's recent independence, created the space program that he dubbed the "Afronauts" and claimed that they would be the first to the moon, beating the two super powers. 

    To put it simply, they didn't have the technology, training, or funding to do anything of the sort. They lacked support from their local government and ultimately dropped their plans after the pilot of their ship, 17 year old Matha Mwambwa, became pregnant. 

    Publication: Worlds of IF Science Fiction

    Issue: August 1964, volume: 14 No. 4

    Cover art: Fetterly from The Slaves of Gree

    by Morrow for Slaves of Gree

    Now this would have been a hell of a cover! not only is it much more intriguing, it is for the same story and by the same artist. 

    The quad-globed space domicile pictured in the top immediately brings to mind a childhood toy that I enjoyed, Capsella. 

    by Morrow for Slaves of Gree

    by Morrow for Slaves of Gree

    Wow, Morrow certainly nailed the bad guy stereotype of the era. Here's the description of this character. I suspect that Morrow skimmed this, saw the beard, horns, and mustache and just went with something familiar. 

    Gree was certainly humanoid, if one could elevate the word. He was tall; taller than Jen or Fazzoool or the Overseer by perhaps a foot. His shoulders were broad, his build supple and young. But the gray strands in his curly black hair and beard showed his maturity. he wore a suit of dark material which almost certainly had precious metals woven into it. At his throat a jabot of the purest white cloth set off the short-cropped beard and his olive skin. the face was just sufficiently marked with care. The eyebrows arched up and tilted at the outer ends almost mischieviously. the eyes were very long and narrow, with full lashes and long folds of skin at the inner corners. The irises were very light gray and had black vertical slits for pupils that looked into one's soul for the slightest shadow of unworthiness. Jen Shuddered and was glad he bore no flaws. 

    The nose, delicate at the bridge, swelled to a very broad base a trifle uplifted so it showed large nostrils. There was a curl of mustache above the wide, full-lipped mouth. The mouth seemed both stern and faintly smiling at the same time. The skin drew in tautly under sharp cheekbones, to a gaunt jaw that was square and outthrust under the beard.  On the head, set hair like two tree-trunks, were two horns, straight, an inch thick and five inches long, with blunt knobby ends. They were intricately carved and inset with gems, and they held Jen's eyes in fascination. 

    by Nodel for The Prince And The Pirate

    by Nodel for The Prince And The Pirate

    I haven't read this story. At a glance, it seems like a fun bit of anachronism, mixing aliens and midievel imagery. I have to say that a jolly roger on a flying saucer makes me smile. This might be worthy of being made into a sticker. 

    by Nodel for The Prince And The Pirate

    by Gaughan for Farnhanm's Freehold

    by Gaughan for Farnhanm's Freehold

    by Gaughan for Farnhanm's Freehold

    by Gaughan for Farnhanm's Freehold

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: The Original Science Fiction Stories, March 1957

    This is such a wonderful cover. The look on the lady's face, the ridiculous zero-G fighting, and the bullets in the ray-gun are all fantastic. As I was looking over all the details on this cover though, I began to see a different story.

    Look at their clothing. The style is about what you'd expect from 50's science fiction, with tight boots and over-alls. Her outfit has some common traits from the 50's including a shape that lends itself to a bullet bra, and a waistline that looks impossible. That waistline is what shifts the narrative in my mind though. See all those dials and indicators? how the heck are you supposed to read those? Wait a sec! Those guys in the background are probably just reading each other's belts! That certainly makes her look a tiny bit more malicious with her hand-canon. 

    Publication: The Original Science Fiction Stories

    Issue: March 1957, volume: 7 No. 5 

    Cover art: Emsh from Saturnalia

    The table of contents states that there are illustrations from Emsh, Freas, and Orban. However, I don't see any stories that carry the illustrator credit for Kelly Freas. Usually there's a line on the title page somewhere. There are a number of illustrations in this issue that are simply uncredited, and at least one of them bears his obvious signature. 

    Orban for Galactic Gamble

    Orban for Galactic Gamble

    Orban for The Quest

    The caption that goes along with this picture is "I saw the other side of the moon…". This is especially interesting to me. This statement seems so cute and silly, but the fact is, at that time it would be 11 more years before we finally orbited the moon! The Apollo 8 mission wasn't till 1968, and that was our first manned mission to orbit the moon. You're probably thinking, "sure, a person didn't orbit till 68, but what about unmanned craft?". Well, we hadn't even done that yet! The Soviets were the first to achieve a lunar orbit with Luna 3 in October of 1959. 

    Also, that guy's helmet kicks ass. 

    Emsh for Saturnalia

    It was images like this and the cover that fed into my childhood fascination with planetary rings. Space = Saturn, which was obviously the coolest planet. I later learned that other planets have rings as well, and it shattered my views on Saturn. Still totally my favorite planet based entirely on those glorious rings. 

    Emsh for Saturnalia

    Emsh for Dark of the Moon

    Uncredited for Tempus Non Fugit, but the first illustration for this story bears the signature of Kelly Freas, so maybe this one is as well.

    You may have noticed that the previous 3 images look a bit different. I noticed I missed them as I was scanning, so I just shot them with my DSLR that I had sitting next to me. Kind of interesting to see how they come out differently. 

    Emsh for Salt Lake Skirmish

    Things haven't changed a whole lot in the language learning world. Even with our super fancy computers most methods are just like this one here. Listen and repeat, that's it. I'm not really sure what my point is, I guess the only alternative I can think of is a system of gamification. I'm sure that exists. 

    Uncredited from the section for reader letters.

    There are these tiny illustrations spread through the reader's letters area, and even in some stories. They're uncredited but I love them! I don't know if it is the tiny size or what, but they're truly fascinating. This ship (above) reminds me of the NY State pavilion, built for the worlds fair in 1964

    Uncredited from the section for reader letters.

    These simple versions are even more delightful in my mind. Maybe it is the allusion to a story without the follow through. What are those 3 balls? Why is there a tinier one? Are they planets in the distance or floating around that astronaut? 

    Uncredited from the section for reader letters.

     

    Uncredited from the section for reader letters.

    It is also interesting to me that these illustrations in the reader input section are completely unrelated to the letters near them. I read for a while trying to draw a connection and it just isn't there. I think they were just dropped in to break up the pages a bit. 

    Emsh for Tempus Non Fugit

     

    Freas for Tempus Non Fugit

    Though this story doesn't credit Freas in the title page, you can clearly see his insignia in the lower right corner. 

     

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Uncredited for The Downfall Of Alchemy

    Orban for To Have And To Hold Not

    Orban for To Have And To Hold Not

    Emsh for Dark of the Moon

    Uncredited

    The illustration above, and below are both uncredited. Moreover, they're associated with a poem that by L. Sprague de Camp that isn't listed in the table of contents. The robots above are very reminiscent of C3PO from Star Wars. 

     

    Uncredited

    This illustration is by far my favorite. There's something just hilarious about the posture and facial expression of the robot. It reminds me of when I lived somewhere that I had to walk my dog frequently and I'd stand there thinking "C'mon you jerk, just take a crap… so I can pick it up". 

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds of IF, March 1968

    When I first picked up this issue of Worlds Of IF, I have to admit that I didn't have high hopes. This hodge-podge collage of a cover simply didn't instill confidence that what I would find inside would be of much quality. Boy was I wrong. The illustrations in this issue are simply delightful. The cover is actually attributed to a specific story, so I guess an artist set out to create what, in my mind, looks like an introduction to microsoft powerpoint. Then again, this was the 60s, maybe this layout was new and edgy back then.

    (more…)

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Analog, March 1969

    As usual, Analog always shines when it comes to cover art. They've got the fantastic Kelly Freas who supplied rich and colorful depictions for many years. On top of that, the actual printing itself is of decent quality. If you compare this to the issue from the last article, you'll see that having your print lined up perfectly wasn't always the case for magazines like this.

    I noticed that the pants on the illustration are tailored with a bit of detail around the tail. There's a snap and a zipper. I can't help but wonder if this was outlined explicitly in the story or if Freas, while illustrating, stopped to ponder how a pair of pants for a creature with a tail would work.

    For the issues from my collection that happen to fall in the 60's through mid 70's, I really enjoy seeing what was actually going in the space program during the same period. For example, this issue was published in March of 1969. Readers would be enjoying this issue while also hearing about the Apolo 9 mission on the radio and TV. This was a period of firsts. Many of the flights were presenting large tasks, being done for the first time in space. Apallo 9 was the first space docking, which included transferring people between the modules. That's pretty wild. I can only imagine the wonder and excitement in the minds of the Sci-Fi community during this time.

    Publication: Analog, Science Fiction Science Fact

    Issue: March 1969, volume: LXXXII No. 1

    Cover art: Kelly Freas

    Kelly Freas for Trap

    Note the tail clasp is in this illustration as well.

    Kelly Freas for Trap

    Leo Summers for Minitalent

    Kelly Freas for Wolfling

    Kelly Freas is famous in the world of illustration, and for good reason. Extremely talented, you'll find examples all over of a flexibility in style as well. Look at this illustration and compare it to the ones from the cover or other stories.

    Kelly Freas for Wolfling

    Leo Summers for Minitalent

    It looks like I goofed this scan. I didn't (scanned it twice to make sure I got as much as possible!). This illustration goes into the binding, making it nearly impossible to get fully exposed without cracking the spine. It actually cuts off though, so that wouldn't yield a better picture anyway.

    Leo Summers for From Fanaticism, Or For Reward

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Galaxy, February 1965

    Looking at the cover above, you might be tempted to assume that my scanning skills are waning. While it is true that sometimes an edge lifts, or the warped pages produce a muddy scan (especially when I'm worried about completely destroying the spine), this is not one of those cases. The little halos that you can see particularly well around the tiny astronauts, are actually there in the print. This is fairly common for this era of magazine, and a good reminder that these weren't very costly, or at least the printer didn't spend for high quality printing.

    I really like the design of the ship on this cover, it is a bit different that what we usually see in this time period. The alluring poses of the obviously feminine tentacle creatures seems like a fairly clever way of using sex to sell the issue while skirting the stigma of having naked women on the cover.

    Publication:Galaxy

    Issue: February 1965, volume: 23 No. 3

    Cover art:Wright from Planet of Forgetting

    The inside cover advertisement. Interesting to me that even in 1965 cheap cameras were not as valued as the film itself.

    Finlay for On The Storm Planet

    Finlay for On The Storm Planet

    This is probably my favorite from this issue. The submarine, on treads, but also having oars, is an odd vehicle, but I'd drive it.

    Finlay for On The Storm Planet

    Finlay for On The Storm Planet

    This art work is a somewhat generic collage of "science" items. Some of it stands out and makes sense to me, there's a rocket, some waveforms of some kind that could be spectrographs, a ceolcanth, and a steam engine. What I'm curious about though, is the significance of that beetle. 

    I know it is just a small drawing, but it really appears to be a Glorious Scarab, which has two scientific names; Plusiotis Gloriosa or Chrysina Gloriosa. Oddly, when I decided I wanted to try to learn to paint, this was the subject I chose.

    I can't seem to find any historical scientific significance though. Does anyone know of a reason it would have been included? Is it possibly some other beetle? (doesn't look like a Darwin beetle at all)

    The article itself sheds no light on the subject. As I said, this appears to be a generic opening piece because the article is about an orrery and the history of armillary spheres.

    Orrerys are fascinating machines. Ever since the movie The Dark Crystal, I've wanted to make one. Machining an orrery is a lot of work though, as you can see in this video of someone doing exactly that.

    Lady on the left? Man on the right? I only see one thing in this illustration that could be a person and they are located in the bottom left area, sitting in front of the armillary sphere.

    Morrow for The Man Who Killed Immortals

    Morrow for The Man Who Killed Immortals

    Morrow for The Man Who Killed Immortals

    I generally try not to criticize the illustrations. After all, they're all better than what I could produce. However, all I see when I look at this woman is that it would appear she's wearing someone else's face as a mask.

    Gaughan for Planet of Forgetting

    Gaughan for Planet of Forgetting

     

    I scanned the story and found no mention of the ship being upside-down. It is possible that I missed it. It is possible that the artist was simply bored. It is also possible that the layout was accidentally placed incorrectly.

    Gaughan for Planet of Forgetting

    Gaughan for Planet of Forgetting

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Amazing Science Fiction, April 1958

    This week I got a chance to un-pack this collection. I've had it for about 10 years now and it has been in boxes the whole time.

    I absolutely love this cover. It is unabashedly silly. What is that boy even doing with that dog? Why lug that iron lung so far from your home-dome if the dog can't even walk around? That thing has to weigh a ton. All joking aside, there's something delightful about all the space covers from before 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Interestingly though, the first dog in space was Laika, in 1951, so I guess they really have no excuse!

    (more…)

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds Of If, January 1964

    April '67 issue

    This issue of Worlds of IF, Science Fiction, commonly just referred to as IF Magazine has a peculiar cover. The white space almost makes this look like a reprint of some kind, however, it isn't. This is how they chose to deliver this one issue. Most issues during the 60's have a simple white band across the top, with full width art. I haven't been able to find any explanation as to why this cover has peculiar use of the white space.  Here is an image of a typical cover from the 60's for comparison.

    IF Magazine has a tendency to list only the last name of their illustrators. This can cause quite a bit of confusion if you're researching. For example, the cover for this issue is simply labelled as McKenna. As it turns out, that is Richard McKenna. That same year another Richard McKenna, the author Richard (M) McKenna, illustrated one of his own stories: When the Stars Answer, in another publication. This is confusing!

    Virgil Finlay is an easy one to sort out, but what about Nodel? Is that Norman Nodel the comic book artist? I don't see this publication listed anywhere in his works, and I did manage to find one of his signatures somewhere and it doesn't quite match up to the ones in the illustrations below. Then again, that N does look quite similar. I have no idea.

    Publication: Worlds of IF Science Fiction

    Issue: January 1964, Volume 13, Number 6

    cover: McKenna

    by Nodel for The Competitors

    by Finlay for Waterspider

    Every time I look at this one, my mind immediately sees Atlas, holding the earth on his shoulders. It takes a moment for me to register that the scenario is nothing like that.

    by Nodel for The Competitors

    by Finlay for Waterspider

    This looks like a scene right out of Men in Black. I love these illustrations where the artist gets to go wild thinking of creatures. I can just imagine how much fun that would be.

    Here's an advertisement that is a true sign of the times. Custom book plates to place on the inside cover of your prized possessions. This way when someone borrows it, they won't forget who owns it. I stumbled for a moment on BEM. For those of you who aren't aware, those are "Bug Eyed Monsters".  Most advertisements don't typically acknowledge the illustrators, however, you can see the names listed here clearly.

    Inside this issue, I saw something that was pretty neat. Here is an advertisement for a free copy of The Unpublished Facts of Life. These are the teachings of the  Rosicrucians, which are a world-wide order of mysics. They're still around and you can learn more about them in this video. 

     

    by McKenna for Three Worlds To Conquer

    by McKenna for Three Worlds To Conquer

    by McKenna for Three Worlds To Conquer

    by McKenna for Three Worlds To Conquer

    by Morrow for Mack

    This was the tear-out from the middle of the issue. You would fill our your subscription and use this envelope to mail it in, to renew your account. I just thought that the little Santa in the UFO was delightful, and thought you might enjoy it.

  • Sci-Fi Sundays: Analog Science Fiction, February 1970

    Welcome to Sci-Fi Sundays! I'm in my mid 30s and grew up steeped in science fiction. From as far back as I can remember, the books on my family bookshelf bore the names of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G Wells, and the like. The books seemed, to my immature eyes, like such odd and frustrating things. They had these enticing and rich illustrations on their covers, but inside, mostly only walls of text that I wouldn't learn to appreciate till my age hit double digits.

    Occasionally I'd stumble upon something like Analog, and be delighted to find illustrations inside, sparse as they may be. Something about this experience left a permanent mark on me, and the illustrations of science fiction pulp has always seemed somewhat magical. It isn't usually the highest quality art work, but it was always something new and interesting, either some imaginary creature or piece of machinery.

    About 10 years ago, I was given a treasure; boxes and boxes of science fiction pulp. I have tons of Analog, some Perry Rhodan, Worlds of If, Galaxy, and a few others with publication dates ranging from the late 50s through the 80s.  While each issue should, in my opinion, be scanned page by page and preserved forever, I'm only setting out to do so with the illustrations. In this series, I'll scan an issue (or two or 3 if they only have cover art),  and share the illustrations with you. Sadly, I can't share the musty smell of the pages, but I may share some of my observations and thoughts on the issue, and I'd love to hear yours.

    Let's kick this off with the above issue:

    Publication:Analog: Science Fiction Science Fact

    Issue: February 1970, volume: LXXXIV No. 6

    Cover art: Kelly Freas

    The February 1970 issue of Analog seems almost like a bizarre amalgam of modern pop culture items; Is that a Viper probe droid from Star Wars? Is that bird man riding on Nessie? Illustrated by Kelly Freas (you'll see that name a LOT during the 70s), the cover illustration goes to the novelette Birthright, by Poul Anderson. As with anything more than just a few years old, it is fun to look at the cost of the issue, only 60 cents.

    Like most issues of Analog, this one is packed with illustrations, many by Kelly Freas. The styles swing wildly from minimalist scratchings to what appear to be painted works.

    This issue has a section in the middle that describes how solar wind works. Remember, this is Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact. There are a couple diagrams, but nothing exciting, and I've opted not to scan them.

    All illustrations from this issue are included below, along with credit to the illustrator, and the story they are associated with.

     

    Kelly Freas  From Birthright

    This is easily my favorite illustration in this issue. The style of the spaceman's helmet and suit are just wonderful. His air tank almost seems Dr. Seussian! 

    Peter Skirka from Dali, For Instance

    I have no idea what is going on here. This is one of those illustrations where reading the story reveals the meaning of the illustration, but I'm not going to spoil it for you, that would make it boring.

    Kelly Freas from Birthright

    One thing I always enjoy is when there are creatures shown that are both extremely alien, and also apparently intelligent. Take the character on the left for example, there are clothes, tools, etc. It makes me wonder what the rest of that creature's culture and civilization are like. Maybe I'll have to read this story!

    Kelly Freas from The Fifth Ace

    Kelly Freas From The Fifth Ace

    Kelly Freas from In Our Hands, The Stars

    Note that even though this is the same illustrator as the others, this story has a completely different art style. These appear to be paintings that were scanned in.

    Kelly Freas In Our Hands The Stars

    Leo Summers from The Biggest Oil Disaster

     

    Leo Summers from The Biggest Oil Disaster

    The rear cover isn't an illustration, but sometimes it is fun to look at the advertisements as well.