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. Read the rest

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

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.  Read the rest

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. 

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! Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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.


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. Read the rest

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! Read the rest

Sci-Fi Sundays: Worlds Of If, January 1964

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

Every time I look at this one, my mind immediately sees Atlas, holding the earth on his shoulders. Read the rest

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. Read the rest