Archive for the ‘Vintage Fiction’ Category

Art–Where Phallic Meets Yonic

Here at Brain Plucker we are way too cerebral to talk about sex, right? As some of the regular readers of this blog knows, I design most of the art work for Wonder Publishing Group by re-purposing older artwork in the public domain. WPG is publishing a story as an eBook called Lorelei of the Red Mist by Ray Bradbury and Leigh Brackett. There’s a wonderful painting by Frank Kelly Freas that graced a magazine called Tops is Science Fiction.

Tops In Science Fiction, Fall 1953

Tops In Science Fiction, Fall 1953

This was actually the second printing of the story. I would of repurposed this art if it wasn’t already reused for a excellent Leigh Brackett collection by Haffner Press called Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances. I didn’t want to create any confusion between that title and my own published version. So decided I needed to look elsewhere. Lorelei of the Red Mist first appeared in the Summer, 1946 issue of Planet Stories. The cover to that issue left me uninspired. I knew I could find something better than that. I then found an eBay auction that had a photo from the interior art from the already mentioned Tops in Science Fiction magazine. The interior was also by Frank Kelly Freas. Let me stop here to say that I think that Frank Kelly Freas was an exceptional artist in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. He most famously known for his paintings, but I love his interior illustrations for the old SF mags. So back to the picture from the eBay auction. I bid and lost on that issue. I bid and lost another auction for that issue. I decided to colorize the image from the auction. Now this is the first thing interior artwork that I colorized. But I still consider myself a dilettante as a colorist. I can’t look at a black and white drawing and really visualize its completion. In a sense this really exciting when the work starts taking shape. The first thing I did was to make the image more symmetrical.

Interior Art used from the eBay Auction picture

Interior Art from Tops in SF. Image was found from an eBay Auction picture.

I copied the layer and flipped it, did some cutting and cloning and merging to create the  final B&W image. I then started colorizing it. The female represents Rann, an ivory colored Venusian with aquamarine hair. As I cleaned up the image I noticed how phallic the post she was bound to looked. Yes that ring she bound to makes most body piercings seem mild (ouch!). I had the art just about nailed down when I showed it to a friend. I pointed out the phallicness of the art. And he noticed that the base was very vagina-like. In fact the phallic was going right through it. What have a created? By making the base symmetrical, I created one f**king awesome cover. Well before writing this post I had to figure out what the opposite of phallic is called. I have to admit to wondering this before. The best word I’ve found was “yonic”. Which means anything that can be described as vagina-like. Who knew?

Black and White and Symmetrical

Black and White and Symmetrical

Colorized

Colorized- (ouch! that ring had got to hurt)

The Final Cover

The Final Cover (coming March 2010)

Look for the eBook in March!

New Releases–Science Fiction, Romance & a Rex Stout Mystery

Three new eBook releases this week in three different genres. Including our first vintage nurse romance (with a name like Dude Ranch Nurse, you know its got to be good!).

Double For Death by Rex Stout

Double For Death by Rex Stout

Double For Death by Rex Stout

AMAZON KINDLE | FICTIONWISE

A corpse in a secluded hide-out–a millionaire who thinks he is discreet (but isn’t)–a panicky girl whose uncle is accused of murder–are some of the odd angles in the most curious case in Tecumseh Fox’s career as a private detective. But these are only the first of a series of surprises–including another grim killing–and Fox has to do some fast talking and acting himself to outfox a deadly determined murderer.
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The Green World by Hal Clement

The Green World by Hal Clement

The Green World by Hal Clement

AMAZON KINDLE | FICTIONWISE

Four scientists, one guide–and a dangerous beast following their trail. Nothing unusual from the looks of things, except that they are all in a planet far away from Earth. Robin Lampert, Take Mitsuitei, Hans Krendall and Ndomi Sulewayo, and their guide John McLaughlin, get together to scour the wilds of Viridis and take what scientific information the land can offer. They discover puzzling yet wondrous mysteries, yet little do they know that the the land itself is unwilling to give them the answers.
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Dude Ranch Nurse by Arlene Hale

Dude Ranch Nurse by Arlene Hale

Dude Ranch Nurse by Arlene Hale

AMAZON KINDLE | FICTIONWISE

It would have been simple for Jan to stay there in Jackson City, to work at General Hospital in Monroe, to settle down to two dates a week with Tom and an eventual marriage, to fall into a dull, humdrum routine. It would have been safe, secure. But no, she had to chase her rainbows and satisfy her dreams and search for that elusive thing called happiness. So Jan Gordon came to Deer River, with its dude ranches deep in the Rockies, in order to thrust aside all the unpleasant memories of the past and rediscover herself. But Jan found that as a nurse and as a woman, she couldn’t turn her back on conflict. There were two young doctors in Deer River; Jan owed loyalty to both. To Dr. Coe, Jan was bound by her conscience, but it was Dr. Noel Lester who held her heart. Nurse Jan suddenly felt happy and lighthearted as she drove young Dr. Noel Lester home. Her doubts about coming to Deer River to work for the summer began to disappear. He is nicer than I thought he would be, she thought, as they pulled up in front of the house. Helping her out of the car, he took her hand. “Come in and have dinner with me,” he said. She had not hoped for this much, but she knew she wanted to stay with him. Perhaps it was all a reaction to the things that had been happening to her. Noel Lester was exciting. Handsome. The unknown. She had come here looking for something. Happiness. Love. Fulfillment. Who was to say that it wasn’t right here in Noel’s outstretched hand?

New Releases–John D. MacDonald & Fletcher Flora

Two new releases from WPG (Wonder Publishing Group). I love these covers and had a lot of fun designing them. Both writers are best known as mystery writers, but John D. MacDonald wrote a lot of Science Fiction back in the 50s. This new collection reprints many of his stories for the first time.

 

Death Quotient and Other Stories by John D. Macdonald

Death Quotient and Other Stories by John D. Macdonald

 

Death Quotient and Other Stories by John D. MacDonald

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Martin Rhode, a distinguished soldier of one of Earth’s warring states, has been unwittingly captured by aliens after innocently exploring a hole caused by what was perceived to be enemy warfare. As it turns out, the aliens are being pursued by natives of an enemy planet and they have sought refuge on Earth. They do not plan on staying long, however, but actually intend to lure their rivals in so that they may all be destroyed along with everyone else on the planet, by a special weapon they are at that moment creating. Martin Rhode appeals to the aliens, and they allow him to send a warning to all Earth people that it will soon be the end of the world. At first disbelieving, warring states and individuals afterwards realize their mistakes and immediately reconcile with each other, and make plans on solving the imminent problem that they face–that of expelling the alien presence in their midst! Also includes the stories: ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, DELUSION DRIVE, THE GREAT STONE DEATH, MINION OF CHAOS, COMMON DENOMINATOR, THE MINIATURE

 

Heels Are For Hating And Other Stories by Fletcher Flora

Heels Are For Hating And Other Stories by Fletcher Flora

 

Heels Are For Hating and Other Stories

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Jackie Brand is a small-time middleweight boxing professional just barely trying to make ends meet. The week before a fight with one of Jay Paley’s boys, he comes home to his wife Peg daydreaming again about her much-coveted motor court out on Highway 66, and guiltily he goes out to have a drink. At the bar, he is met by the competition’s manager, and the latter makes a proposal: lose the fight and get paid ten thousand dollars. The amount would actually cover the downpayment for Peg’s house, so Jackie decides to accept the offer. But what price will it cost him? Also includes the stories: SHE ASKED FOR IT, POINTS SOUTH

Fletcher Flora (1914-1968) wrote various “sensational” stories during the 40’s and 50’s. Flora started writing right at the end of the pulp era, for magazines like ‘Dime Detective’. Then he moved on to do some 60 stories for the digests (Pursuit, EQMM, Suspect, etc). His mystery output includes over sixty short stories and sixteen novels. The Hot Shot and Strange Sisters are among his credits.

What’s Cooler Than Tentacles and Pulp Covers?

Stumbled upon this site the other day, Poulpe Pulps, and thought “what a wondrous thing this world wide web is”. Well actually I thought how silly and cool. Nothing here but lots of Octopuses on pulp covers. That an interview with Robert Silverberg which is pretty cool in itself.

Planet Stories - Summer 1944

Planet Stories - Summer 1944

New Releases — Ben Bova & Bradford Scott

Two new eBook releases from WPG (Wonder Publishing Group) this week.

The Towers of Titan and Other Stories by Ben Bova

The Towers of Titan and Other Stories by Ben Bova

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

Five extraordinary stories by one of Science Fiction’s most revered writers. THE TOWERS OF TITAN–Across the frozen cliffs they loomed–the unbelievably ancient towers with the unimaginable engines deep inside them still pouring out their endless power. Dr. Sidney Lee, back from living death, vowed to find the secret of the Towers of Titan! THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP–Ordinarily the military least wants to have the others know the final details of their war plans. But, logically, there would be times–ANSWER, PLEASE ANSWER– Astronomer Bova draws upon the facts of his field to weave a story that will grip your emotions and tantalize your mind–long after you have finished reading it. THE DUELING MACHINE–The trouble with great ideas is that someone is sure to expend enormous effort and ingenuity figuring out how to louse them up. A LONG WAY BACK– He held the future of the world in his numbed hands. And from 22,500 miles out, he made the gamble.
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Powder Burn by Bradford Scott

Powder Burn by Bradford Scott

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

DOUBLE DANGER for Walt Slade, undercover ace lieutenant of the Texas Rangers. He is the man most feared by the owlhoots and drygulchers of the old Texas Border. The sight of this tall lawman with the lightning-fast draw astride his great black horse, Shadow, symbolizes defense of the innocent and the end of reckless careers of lawlessness. Walt Slade trailed a killer from Texas through Mexico, all the way to Tombstone, Arizona–only to find the owlhoot riding at his back. And when he turned to face him he found he was not only up against his prey, but also in a showdown with Wyatt Earp, most famous marshal in the West. Slade had to get his man, but first he had to face death at the hands of Wyatt Earp.

“There’s one man I wouldn’t want to cross!” So said Wyatt Earp after his first meeting with Walt Slade. He didn’t know that he had just threatened the undercover ace of the Texas Rangers, but he realized that he had faced a gunfighter without a flaw, a two-gun killer with perfect coordination of hand and eye and a clear, cold, hairtrigger brain. At that moment Earp knew that Tombstone wasn’t big enough to hold both of them–alive!

William Tenn Passes Away

Here’s a reposting I did from the Science Fiction Oral History Association (SFOHA.org) website:

One of Science Fiction’s master short story writers, Phil Klass, passed away Sunday, February 7, 2010 at age 89. Phil Klass, who may be better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, wrote more than 60 SF stories. Connie Willis in her introduction to the book Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, Volume 1
wrote:

Tenn’s stories are witty, clever, thought-provoking, ironic, intensely intelligent, touching, and hilarious. And too few and far between. Most of the stories in this collection were written in the fifties and sixties, and, until now, have been hard to find. I’m overjoyed that they will all be in print again and all in one place (though it’s also delightful to come across one in an anthology when you least expect it, and have him seduce or surprise or swindle you all over again), But I wish there were more of them.

He was named Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1999. Some of his more famous short stories (and this list is by no means complete) are:

There is an excellent interview (well really it’s a monologue) with Phil Glass AKA William Tenn at Pulpnet.com. It was recorded at PulpCon 35 in 2006. Phil talks about working with John W. Campbell, Horace Gold and Fred Pohl among many others. He certainly had the gift of gab. If you feel saddened at his passing as I do, this recording will bring smile to your face.

Also there’s an another excellent interview from 2004 when he was on WNYC’s Spinning On Air. Which also has him reading his short story On Venus, Have We Got A Rabbi! [via: SFFaudio]

If you have any recordings of William Tenn, we’d love to post them here. Please contact us.

Best SF Radio Drama — X MINUS 1

x minus 1What classic SF audio drama actually adapted contemporary stories from great science fiction authors like:
Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Robert Sheckley, Robert Bloch, Fredric Brown, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl, Fritz Leiber, and Philip K. Dick to name several? Well, that would be X Minus 1. The show started as Dimension X in 1950-51 for NBC Radio with stories adapted from Astounding Stories. But continued as X Minus 1 in 1955 and adapted their stories from Galaxy Science Fiction. There were also original scripts by George Lefferts & Ernest Kinoy which hold their own against the SF greats. There’s a total of 126 episodes.

The Flash Player below doesn’t show the playlist. There’s a better a one at Internet Archive. Plus, if you wish, you can download the shows there.

New Releases–Poul Anderson, Evan Hunter & Fredric Brown

Three new eBooks from Wonder Publishing Group. I really like the art on these covers. But I’m the designer so I might be biased.

The High Ones and Other Stories by Poul Anderson

The High Ones and Other Stories by Poul Anderson

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

THE HIGH ONES AND OTHER STORIES by POUL ANDERSON

Now was Eben Holbrook’s chance to play hero—and win his lady love.
Eben Holbrook was not much of a spaceman; he was just a simple nucleonics engineer, not even close to being a scientist. Yet a rare burst of inspiration on his part was what saved them from harm … or maybe just the thought that his dear Ekaterina was in danger.
After having landed on a planet which had the makings of a new Earth, Rurik’s troop discovered that someone else beat them to it. The Zolotoyans—a more highly intelligent race—started an arbitrary attack, which forced an investigation into the reason for their hostility.
Holbrook, Ekaterina and Grushenko were assigned to the task, and set out for Zolotoy. Much to their surprise, the natives did not attack them once they landed; in fact, they seemed altogether indifferent to their guests’ presence, though they were required to stay indefinitely. Holbrook knew that the atmosphere and environment weren’t conducive for humans, and sought immediately to escape, but Grushenko insisted on trying to reason with the Zolotoyans no matter what the cost.

From a Science Fiction Grand Master comes ten exciting stories from the 1950s. Over 100,000 words of the future from the past.

Also includes the stories: OUT OF THE IRON WOMB!, TURNING POINT, THE APPRENTICE WOBBLER, STAR SHIP, THE CORKSCREW OF SPACE, LORD OF A THOUSAND SUNS, THE SOLDIER FROM THE STARS, SWORDSMAN OF LOST TERRA, THE CHAPTER ENDS

Woman's World and Other Stories by Evan Hunter

Woman's World and Other Stories by Evan Hunter

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

WOMAN’S WORLD AND OTHER STORIES by EVAN HUNTER

Classic Science Fiction from the 1950s by S.A. Lombino who most famously wrote under the pen names Evan Hunter and Ed McBain.

Damion couldn’t believe his eyes—the universe’s most beautiful women in one single planet, and they were all GIANTS!
But he shouldn’t let that fact overwhelm nor deter him. That trip to planet Krinn was crucial—their alliance to the Federation would mean the alliance of all other planets left in the System. He would have to find a way to somehow convince the beautiful Queen Alidia that being a member of the Federation will be to her kingdom’s best interests.
Together with his long-time partner and friend, Konars, they formulate an agenda that at first glance seems devious, except that the tables are turned on them. For a lot of what happens next aren’t part of the original plan: becoming the Giant Queen’s court jester, war between the larger females and the relatively smaller males, the Daxonians’ involvement—and falling in love.

Also contains the stories: THE PLAGIARIST FROM RIGEL IV, SILENT PARTNER, and A PLANET NAMED JOE

Gateway to Darkness by Fredric Brown

Gateway to Darkness by Fredric Brown

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GATEWAY TO DARKNESS by FREDRIC BROWN

Crag was a no good drunk and deviant, now facing life in prison. But the good judge Jon Olliver offers him his freedom—plus a million credits!—in exchange for a small favor: steal a harmless tool from a rich scientist in Mars. Crag suspects a catch, but he finds it so hard to resist … especially when he knows that Olliver’s beautiful wife, Evadne, will be joining them in the adventure!

A great 1940s novella from a master of the form.

New Releases – Delany, Ward Moore, Luke Short and more!

I mentioned our goal of 100 eBook releases for 2010. Well here’s Wonder Publishing Group first entry for the year, and it’s a good one.

The Jewels of Aptor [MultiFormat]
eBook by Samuel R. Delany

The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel R. Delaney

The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel R. Delaney

QUEST AMID FUTURITY’S RUINS What was the strange impetus that drove a group of four widely different humans to embark on a fear-filled journey across a forbidden sea to a legendary land? This was Earth still, but the Earth of a future terribly changed after a planet-searing disaster, a planet of weird cults, mutated beasts, and people who were not always entirely human. As for the four who made up that questing party, they included a woman who was either a goddess, a witch, or both, a four-armed boy whose humanity was open to question, and two more men with equally “wild” talents. The story of their voyage, of the power-wielding “jewels” they sought, of the atomic and post-atomic terrors they encountered, is a remarkable science-fiction Odyssey of the days to come.

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

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Bold Rider [MultiFormat]
eBook by Luke Short

Bold Rider by Luke Short

Bold Rider by Luke Short

Getting the gold was easy–as easy as riding his horse up that mountain. But getting down again was another story. Set up by his partner, ambushed by his ally, left for dead in an avalanche, Poco St. Vrain had a long trail ahead. He had to recover the gold and clear his name. To do that meant tracking down not one gang of desperadoes but two. It would take a good horse, a fast gun, and the steady nerve of a … BOLD RIDER!

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

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A Matter of Faith [MultiFormat]
eBook by Robert A.W. Lowndes

A Matter of Faith by Robert W. Lowndes

A Matter of Faith by Robert W. Lowndes

Among an infinite multitude of worlds, almost any type of culture is possible. But all science requires that cause and effect be related. To the fellahin culture of the worlds of Ein, no real science was possible. There was only the will of Ein. Yet Dondyke found that both their religion and their peculiar science could be horribly effective!

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

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Skip A Beat [MultiFormat]
eBook by Henry Kane

Skip a Beat by Henry Kane

Skip a Beat by Henry Kane

One of the great men of the country, Adam Woodward, has just hired Peter Chambers to be his bodyguard. Woodward, a famous newspaper columnist, is about to expose someone as a Communist. But before can start to do his job, Woodward is gunned down in the street. And Chambers is the only witness to the murder. The solution to Woodward’s murder was carefully written down–but Woodward had hidden it where Peter Chambers couldn’t find it. A Peter Chambers mystery by Noir Master, Henry Kane.

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

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Bodyguard and Other Stories [MultiFormat]
eBook by Evelyn Smith

Bodyguard and Other Stories by Evelyn E. Smith

Bodyguard and Other Stories by Evelyn E. Smith

Gabe Lockard had it all–a beautiful wife, lots of money, social connections, and most of all, a great face in a great body. Only problem was, inside that body wasn’t Gabe Lockard. The real Gabe Lockard was a wanderer, a dutchman–a zarquil addict, who regularly plays the galaxy’s most dangerous tournament just to be encased in another man’s anatomy. But even that was a lie. For the truth was that Gabe Lockard wanted his body back. He followed it to the ends of the earth and outer space, playing zarquil to exchange dying bodies for new ones, just so he can make sure no harm comes to it. And so that, when the right moment comes, he can maneuver the impostor into joining him for another deadly game– Also contains the stories, BODYGUARD, MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WOMAN’S TOUCH, THE MAN OUTSIDE, ONCE A GREECH, TERAGRAM

FICTIONWISE | AMAZON KINDLE

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Transient [MultiFormat]
eBook by Ward Moore

Transient by Ward Moore

Transient by Ward Moore

How does one react when he’s been to hell and back–and doesn’t even know it? Governor Almon Lampley doesn’t know what’s going on. It started out as an innocent business trip, but when he decides to spend the rest of the day–and night–in an out-of-the-way hotel, things begin to go horribly wrong. While it’s almost always true that nothing is always as it seems, Lampley is finding it extremely difficult to separate truth from reality in this kind of place!

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Avatar – Earthman corrupting the Na’Vi from the 1950s

Why do Earthmen think that blue humanoid aliens are such an easy mark? They’re just ripe for exploitation, appearently. Even back in the 50s Earthmen were trying to exploit the native.

Earthman's Exploitation of Blue Alien

Earthman's Exploitation of Blue Alien

This cover did not illustrate a story, but was used like a single panel comic strip. There’s so many things wrong with this cover.

Let me spin an interpretation: Here is a coat of dead animals that I will trade for your services and/or precious resources. Never mind that the climate is mild and you will never need this coat. And these animals gave up their lives all for the sake of my “big score” with you. Let me appeal to your materialism and take you away from the peaceful utopia and corrupt your culture. With my knowing wink (which makes me look deformed), I shall conquer you and then your world!

Okay, I’m having a bit of fun. Overall I like the cover just fine. The artist is Mel Hunter who was stronger with depictions of outer space and desolate alien landscape. But this cover does not speak to the 21st like it did in 1956.

I came across a posting on the possible sources for the movie Avatar. Which set my mind upon the possibilities. There really so many possibilities because the ideas are rather trite, as far as the SF goes. But that’s okay in my mind. It’s the treatment of the ideas and characterization that matters to me. Although I don’t want to write a review, I have to put in my little snippet, or is that snipe, on the movie. For technical visual achievement, this movie set a new standard. For characterization it’s shallow. The central pivotal point of the plot is if the main protagonist will join with the native Na’Vi or remain loyal to the corporation.  Did I say corporation? I meant evil corporation. There’s no dilemma, it’s a no-brainer for the protagonist to turn to the side of the natives. The shallow black and whiteness of the characters was a major disappointment. But for the visuals’ sake, makes the movies worth seeing. I feel dirty for saying that. I have a friend that told me of a movie he highly recommended. He said it was great except for the plot. I thought: bad plot equals bad movie. Well I feel I’m saying the same thing about Avatar, except for saying bad plot, I’m saying shallow characterization.

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