Starting with this post, an irregular feature of this blog will be an examination of books with awful titles, awful cover art, or – more frequently – both. This, while hardly a topic which is previously un-heard of, might cause a few people to smirk, chuckle, and chortle. It might also offend some more delicate sensibilities upon occasion, most frequently on an artistic level; there’s certainly no possibility of being offended due to any sexual nature, as it’s impossible to take its content seriously enough for that!
Today’s group of ridiculous covers all have something to do with ‘outer space’. For some odd reason, the early space exploration of the middle-to late 20th century cause a great number of things to pop into the minds of writers which had nothing to with ‘finding brave new worlds to explore’ or even ‘establishing outposts in distant galaxies in order to better understand the universe in which we live’. Nope, it had all to do with ‘getting it on with alien chicks’. Granted, Captain James T. Kirk’s ability to do so seemingly in every episode of Star Trek around the 25-minute mark is well known, but some of the following examples pre-date that instance by a fair amount.
Super Detective Library, Nº115 (January 1958)
Here we see a fairly benign example of what one can do to take advantage of a situation gone wrong when encountering aliens: demonstrate just what a manly man one is, in order to sufficiently impress the chicks so you can ‘get a little something’. Note that the young lady on the left is dressed in much the same style of clothing as the titular hero, so she must be of his team. Unlike the individual to whom he is applying the effective ‘left cross’ to the jaw of, who is attired in a rather unique combination of red flannel skirt (which is a warm fabric but the cut of which is somewhat draughty), as well as fur-trimmed boots and warm-looking hoody. The rather Latin-esque influence of the bandolier on the presumed aliens is odd, as the gentlemen seem to also tote quite tiny side-arms which don’t seem to have enough room for anything in the way of ammunition, never mind a clip containing the bullets which must be contained in each of the sections of the bandolier.
Note the young lady is being held against her will by one of the be-horned aliens (there’s a possible use of symbolism denoting cuckoldry here, but that may be giving the image too much credit). No doubt she will emotionally melt at the sight of the courage of Mr. Random as he defeats the alien hordes, and then treat her rescuer to some sort of display of affection on the journey home. My, aren’t rewards wonderful?
Vol. 34, Issue Nº1 (April, 1949)
Apparently you can buy your very own copy of this for only $6ºº right here. Plus, if the title by Ray Bradbury in the lower right corner fascinates you enough, there was a TV adaptation based on “The Concrete Mixer” which aired in 1992 as part of The Ray Bradbury Theatre’s fifth season.
But enough of that, we’re here for the cover of this periodical, and it’s unlikely to have anything to do with any of the stories inside this issue. Or maybe it does. Frankly, who cares?
When faced with an æroplane seemingly filled with guys in green-dyed Michelin Man costumes, armed with big rifle-shaped guns and the occasional revolver, and employing some sort of night-vision goggles, the correct attire is based visually on the “french twist” top, high-waisted swim-suit bottom adorned with some sort of gold detailing suggestive of ‘woman is the nurturer of the universe’s creation’ (I think), a train (which is going to get in the way of her ability to effectively defend herself, let’s face it), and carrying some sort of sceptre with a bird on the end of it.
I don’t see this scene ending in anything but tears, frankly. While raping and pillaging is likely, the lady’s future as a leader of any group is certainly about to come to an abrupt end. Let this be a lesson to anyone designing clothing for female leaders of planet-nations: skip the attractive nature of shoulders and mid-riffs, and concentrate on ensuring an ability to easily move about as well as carry a weapon.
Scorpio Books (9SC-3505), 1970
Now, frankly, we’re entering the area of “silly and blatant use of space as setting for anything we came up with last time, only we need to make it seem new somehow so as to sell things in an ‘old wine in a new skin’ sense of the thing”. A long explanation for what is basically a simple idea: ‘same shit, different package’.
Here, finally, we get to share in the experience with “getting it on with an alien babe”, just as God intended us to do when he created the rest of our galaxy. The two male characters of the tale arrive on the surface of Mars and find it to be some sort of Club Med located on the red planet, peopled quite logically by humanoids who happen to have green skin. Presumably all the other ‘girl bits’ are fully functional, as the bosoms on the cover attest to a fair amount of female normality.
What interests me is the tag-line’s suggestion that these two fellows had actually run out of opportunities on the third planet from the Sun for nookie, and decided that pointy-eared alien babes were the only option. How, pray-tell, does one come to this conclusion, given the entire world’s population is probably 65% female? While even allowing for 2⁄3 of all females being either far too old or young for the acceptable tastes of the two men, that’s still a great number of people with whom to “have connections with”. Either they had access to some sort of temporal time-shit device in order to ‘make the most of the male prime sexual years’ or they were ignoring a good number of entire continents containing ‘foreign females’. Why can’t these boys stick to their own kind; the sort of women who stands on the same God-given planet as themselves, eh? Shameful, I say; SHAMEFUL!
Given that this book came out in 1970, it’s certainly likely that Captain Kirk’s behaviour pattern was of great influence to the gentlemen. Perhaps they were jealous of his success rate? Only readers of the book might be able to answer this question. If you are one of these individuals who have assigned some time and effort to the perusal of this volume, please keep the information to yourself. My life is far too short to hear the details.
Of additional concern is that tag-line ending in either an “hyphen” or an “em-dash”. What’s that there for? Those are used to separate clauses from the rest of the sentence, and using one at the end of one suggests something is missing! Is the picture below supposed to provide the “thousand words” of the thought which was interrupted after “…they had to go”? While “…and make out with green women” might be an apt conclusion, it’s hardly 1,000-words-long, is it? Perhaps “OUT OF THIS WORLD!” was supposed to be in italics, and that typesetting convention didn’t get interpreted correctly?
If the merits of the book’s insides interest you, head here for a review. Lord knows why, but you might actually want to. Sadly, the reviewer cannot spell the surname of the author correctly, however, so their view of the book’s literary quality might be affected in your eyes as a result.
Greenleaf Classics, Inc. (GC2220), 1967
The Day the Universe Came, by Ray Kalnen
Corinth Publications /A Nightstand Book (NB1889), 1968
Zero Gravity Swap, by Cal I. Pygaster
Candid (CA1030), 1970
Starship Intercourse, by William Maltese
Greenleaf Classics /A Companion Book (CB702), 1971
The fact that these titles all came out around the busiest period of the NASA Moon programme, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and David Bowie’s single “Space Oddity” with it’s message for “Major Tom” in some sort of space-destined mission is hardly co-incidental. Space was – ironically, for the vacuum nature of the place – hot at the time and anything a publisher could do to cash in on the fascination people had with things above was seen as worth the doing. Oddly, the same approach wasn’t taken during the UFO-filled period of the late-1950s and early ’60s, but we do detect an echo of that in the title of Those Sexy Saucer People, as well as a fairly un-subtle play on the title of the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still (itself rather un-subtle in its polemic-filled message of universal acceptance of others; although a message seemingly un-heeded even today).
Much of what we see is all of a piece on these covers. Reality and accuracy to what any sort of practicality of space-travel held or what life in zero– or near-zero-gravity would hold is not simply ignored, but grasped firmly by the scruff of the neck, bludgeoned until incomprehensible, shoved into an air-lock, then defenestrated into the atmospheric void of space, hopefully exploding in the process. The closest any of these images approaches an acceptable level of disbelief which one might successfully suspend in one’s mind is either Zero Gravity Swap (although the arm-band and point of origin of the ‘space babe’ is questionable) or The Day the Universe Came (which has its own problems with the use of day-glo pink zinc-oxide on the noses of people long before it became popular with the California surfers in the mid-80s, and the space-suits being apparently supplied from items left from the closing of Hugh Heffner’s clubs around the world).
Frankly, sex being attempted in zero gravity might be an intriguing concept to ponder, but the reality has to be far too much work to bother with, surely? Let’s face it, we’re used to gravity aiding in the activity, and its absence has to be a massive obstacle to overcome (and there was a good 90-seconds spent trying to think of a word to replace that last one, let me tell you).
The amazing things that we are told by Starship Intercourse include the fact that one can wear the skimpiest of bathing suits over one’s skin in outer space, but as long as one’s head is in a fish bowl, you’ll never freeze to death; although it appears that zero-gravity has a disturbing effect on ladies nipples, causing them to resemble either a cow’s udder or the greatest extreme in bathroom plungers.
Meanwhile, over on the front of Those Sexy Saucer People, it seems that aliens are here to take our women’s precious innocence and convert it into some green substance; whose meniscus is as hard as concrete, so as to remain level in relation to the container and not according to any gravitational force of the bearer. They have probably seduced their victims by use of their superior height, lack of trousers, and the fact that pointy ears on a humanoid who still requires the use of a breathing helmet turns on an astonishing number of earth’s women. Who knew? If only we had that information before they arrived, the Earth wouldn’t be threatened by aliens every week-end as it is now.
Hopefully today we’ve all learned a little more about our future bed-mates: aliens. If you have had an experience with an other-worldly individual in the beautiful art of love-making, please do not hesitate to pass on every single detail of the encounter to anyone by me. Thank you.