When I was a teen devourer of sci-fi, I was obsessed with the spaceship designs on paperback book covers. I would buy any novel or short story collection, however sketchy the contents seemed, if I dug the ship on the cover. Conversely, I would pass over well-regarded books if I thought the spaceship art was crappy. Sometimes, the covers would make a more lasting impression on me than the contents.
I can't imagine how high over the moon teenage me would be for YouTube channels like Spacedock. This excellently-produced channel is a collection of deep-nerdings over the minutia of spaceship designs found in sci-fi media. Episodes look at categories of ships across different sci-fi universes or they are deep dives into a specific class of ship from a world, or a single, iconic ship from a series.
The opinions are definitely those of the creator of the channel, and I don't always agree with them, but current me and teenage me are in love with the nerdiness of it all.
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Megan Rosenbloom at Lapham's Quarterly delves into anthropodermic bibliopegy, the strange history of books bound in human skin, like this pocket book created in 1829 from murderer William Burke of the Burke and Hare murders. Read the rest
Books about book covers and jackets have long been a favorite of publishers, in part, I’m assuming, because the subject is at once self-congratulatory and economical. There are books devoted to American modernist covers, Penguin paperbacks, and covers designed by individual artists, such as the recent title on Edward Gorey. The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic, though, which focuses on covers and jackets created in Germany from 1919 to 1933, is unlike any of those tidy projects. Edited by book collector Jürgen Holstein, The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic is comparatively messy, revealing a society’s struggle for its identity after a humiliating defeat in the Great War, but before a new regime would rise up and instigate a conflict that would prove far, far worse.
Filled with 1,000 or so covers from Holstein’s collection, Weimar Republic is not designed merely to be a premonition of World War II. Instead, thanks to its thematic and publishing-house organization, we learn about the role of publishers in Germany, as we witness a young democracy trying to figure out everything from the limits of taste to the emerging prominence of film. Some covers depict Berlin’s notorious nightclubs. Others describe life in newly Soviet Russia. Naturally, considering his stature at the time, Upton Sinclair’s work figures prominently, including a 1930 Elias Canetti translation of Sinclair’s 1911 novel, Love’s Pilgrimage, whose cover features a disturbing photomontage of abortion forceps paired with a rose, the work of the great German artist John Heartfield. Read the rest