Sci Fi Books of Another Era

 

      THE ABOVE BOOKS represent an entirely different era, of pulpy paperbacks and seeming editorial liberty, where 50p (approx 25c) could snag you a read in the sixties.

I picked these up in a book shop (it was no coincidence) some while back and I’m going on a mini retro sci fi kick. Harry Harrison means nothing to me as a name, but the covers and titles alone were enough to make me want the paperbacks. At the time I hadn’t yet read Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep but I had heard of him in a similar way to Asimov, both authors synonymous with the sci fi genre, their fame widespread.

One thing is certain, they sure as hell don’t make books like those anymore. Just look at the covers spanning the sixties to the eighties: the graphics are awesome in their own special way. And The Unteleported Man? – straight away I’m in on that. The Stainless Steel Rat for President? – fuck yeah. What could P.I.G. or R.O.B.O.T stand for?? Intrigue generated…

Incidentally I am reading PKD’s book, and its great in terms of ideas and concepts, the man is a genius. Although his 2016 as envisioned from half a century ago is way better than the reality. As a bonus, it feels like time travelling when I go back to his sixties mindset.

 

lion around 2

             

32 Comments

  1. Great post. I agree with the vision and concepts of PKD. I wish I lived in most of his worlds (the fascist dystopic ones I’ll do without however). I have not read the Unteleported Man. Thanks for bringing it up, I’ll have to give it a look.

      1. I’d love to read what you think about that one. The Man In The High Castle was the first full length novel of PKD I’d ever read…and to be honest I did not like it all that much. Perhaps it was because his short stories were so fantastic and this was a more drawn out story where in his shorts, the concepts and themes, though vast and gleaming, are only given a cursory inspection but I found his longer works had themes that were like lakes with a large surface area only to be found to be quite shallow. Give it a read though and let me know what you think.

  2. That’s James Simon Bolivar di Griz, Tartan! I could write for an hour on the old SF magazines, F&SF, Galaxy, Astounding/ Analog. I have about 10 years of the latter out in the garage. A friend showed me a story from that era that said, at some point, “…After the break-up of the Soviet Union…” Who knew? Great stuff, this.

    1. That must have been great to experience those mags freshly printed and have some of them left still 🙂
      That’s a great prediction on the Soviet Union. PKD predicted the world population would be 7 billion in 2016 in The Unteleported Man – pretty cool, adds another dimension to the reading experience.

  3. I wasn’t around for the era but I do remember reading through science fiction compilations. They came in like little magazines that are now well out of print.
    I consider myself lucky to be granted access into the university’s secure room to able to hold one and read through them. Some of those were over one hundred years old 😐

    To my understanding it was because early scifi (like early fantasy) wasn’t accepted as genuine literature. There was a real bias against anything of speculative fiction in the early literary eras, and thus why they came as little tabloid magazines.

    1. That’s cool being able to access them.
      And the tables really turned on that viewpoint, that pulp fiction was schlocky writing without the merit of literary prose.
      It’s ironic in a way that it took the future to bring recognition to them, from sci fi to noir.

      1. Yeah it’s crazy! There were many great stories that were rubbished early on – more so than fantasy.
        Somehow, fantasy originally occupied the ground of satire and political metaphors while scifi was dismissed as flights of fancy.

      2. The irony is, very few people care about stiff literary prose anymore, and the thankfully that snobbery has dissipated.
        Im sure there are still large swathes of elitist twonks in the book industry, that crave over extended sentences burgeoning under the weight of wittering flowery prose, but people have wised up to good writing and stories across all genres.

      3. I’m not sure the dislike was based on stiff prose. I think that stiffness was an element of that era where people were stiff and formal. It’s also relevant to note that literature had only reached a mass audience in the late 18th century.
        But of course you’re write (hah). Times change and likes dislikes with it

  4. I have an entire row of beautifully illustrated pulp sci fi books on my bookshelf, lots of titles from Lloyd Biggle Jr who I heard was a popular sci fi author during his time. I can’t tell you whether any of the books are good, but those covers though…
    I typically like Philip K Dick but my last encounter with his work was a nightmare, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of The Unteleported Man (he’s always a genius with plot, though).

      1. Haha, I got a little excited when I moved into a new place with my very own bookshelf. I filled it up with books I intended on reading, until other books came along and completely threw me off course. But I’ll reclaim the books from the dust… eventually…

  5. Yeah, the Stainless Steel Rat books are a good laugh, adventure sci-fi with its tongue usually fairly close to its cheek. Probably worth reading them in order though and I think ‘For President’ is one of the later ones. You should be able to pick up the others for pennies.

  6. Great covers – immediately makes me want to read them! I’ve read quite a few PKD books over the last year and I’ve struggled to get on with him for some reason – thought Ubik was great though. Thanks for a making me want to rummage around in my book boxes for something new/old to read 🙂

    1. A pleasure 🙂
      They are so striking, and look mega out of place next to carefully designed, polished modern day covers.
      If you havent read Do Androids… that’s excellent. And so far the Unteleported man is too. I’ll memory bank Ubik 🙂
      I find reading him is easy once I just read, because he doesnt always describe things, and uses alot of made up language, but usually I bed in within the first 20 pages.

      1. Haven’t read Androids but it remains on my list of ones to read, thanks for the tip – and you’re right about settling into his style. Spot on about how out of place those kind of books look – exactly why I love them!

  7. You lucked out there, my friend, The Stainless Steel Rat for President is a lot of fun, probably my favourite of the series. Sure, it’s aimed at the teenage boy audience in a way that only scifi books of that time can be, but Slippery Jim di Griz is such a great character. In between the jokes and the crazy plot there’s a lot of basic human goodness to be mined in these pages. Enjoy!

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