Emshwiller illustrates Bester

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Having finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo I thought I’d, er jaunt from the 1840s into the far future by revisiting Alfred Bester’s Dumas-derived The Stars My Destination. I prefer the alternate title to Bester’s novel, Tiger! Tiger!, but Stars… is the one that’s more commonly used, with the unfortunate side-effect of making the book sound like a typical space opera of the 1950s. The story may begin in space but most of it takes place on Earth in the 24th century. Bester borrows the revenge theme and a couple of other details from The Count of Monte Cristo but wisely resists any attempt to imitate the labyrinthine plotting of the Dumas novel.

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Before publication in book form, the story was serialised in four parts in Galaxy magazine, from October 1956 to January 1957; Ed “Emsh” Emshwiller illustrated each instalment as well as the cover of the debut issue. I’ve said before that one of the great benefits of being able to browse old magazines online is having the opportunity to turn up neglected illustrations like these. Bester’s novel has long been regarded as a genre classic—Michael Moorcock and William Gibson both refer to it as a favourite—but its print editions haven’t generated many memorable covers. Here we have Emshwiller illustrating the entire story, and doing an excellent job, yet his drawings have been buried for years.

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For the purposes of this post I’ve removed the text surrounding some of the illustrations in order to highlight the drawings. The original printings, plus the full text of the serialised story, may be found at the links below:

Galaxy, October 1956
Galaxy, November 1956
Galaxy, December 1956
Galaxy, January 1957

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Continue reading “Emshwiller illustrates Bester”

Weekend links 413

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Cover art and design by David Pelham, 1974. The author’s name is set in Marvin (see below).

• Revelation of the week is a lengthy, career-spanning interview with Igor Wakhévitch, the French composer whose extraordinary run of albums from the 1970s are cult items in these parts. (Previously) Wakhévitch isn’t exactly reclusive but he lives in India, and hasn’t recorded anything since the 1980s, so in recent years he wasn’t visible or even known much at all outside France. The release in 1998 of a CD collection, Donc…, and a handful of vinyl reissues, brought him out of obscurity, although all the reissues to date have been in limited quantities. Work of this quality really warrants a wider release.

The Sky Torn Apart is a new album by Paul Schütze, his first for several years. Very good it is too, 56 minutes of growling and glittering atmospherics that could equally suit the enervating heights of summer (as in Wendy Carlos’s drone piece from Sonic Seasonings) as the depths of winter, the inspiration being the apocalyptic cycles of Norse mythology.

• At Lambda Literary: Cathy Camper talks to cartoonist Justin Hall about his planned film, No Straight Lines, about the history of queer comics. There’s a Kickstarter for the project, and more background detail at QueerClick (NSFW).

• Introducing Marvin Visions, a digital revival of Marvin, a photoset typeface first launched in 1969, and very popular during the 1970s on science-fiction cover designs. Marvin Visions is free for personal use.

• The second number of the relaunched Wyrd Daze—”The multimedia zine of speculative fiction + extra-ordinary music, art & writing”—has arrived.

• At New Noise: Dylan Carlson (again) talking about the influences on his solo album, Conquistador.

• Video Drone: Russell Cuzner talks to Rose Kallal about her audio-visual concerts.

• Mix of the week: a Dark Souls-inspired drone mix from Justin C. Meyers.

• RIP Glenn Branca

The Ascension (1981) by Glenn Branca | Ascension (1992) by O Yuki Conjugate | Ascension (2014) by The Bug

More book design

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Yes, it’s been a busy year. These are books three and four respectively of the titles I’ve been designing for Tachyon Publications, and there are more on the way.

Kage Baker’s The Hotel Under the Sand is a charming fantasy for children concerning the hotel of the title and its curious inhabitants, which include a ghost bellboy and a pirate captain. The illustrations were by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and I tried to complement these with the lettering design and graphic elements. I always enjoy working on illustrated books.

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The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a very different beast, a big (480 pages) selection by Gordon Van Gelder of some of the many first-class stories from the sixty-year history of the fiction magazine. F&SF has published so many classic stories over the years the book could easily have been twice as big. As it is there are pieces by Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Philip K Dick, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, among others. The design in this case came from studying a copy of the magazine from 1967; I was already thinking of using Bodoni for the story titles and that choice was confirmed when I saw it used for the same purpose in the magazine. The calligraphic titles were also scanned from there, their design going back to the very first issue.

Both these books are on sale now, and Keith Brooke gave a glowing appraisal to the latter in The Guardian at the weekend.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Medicine Road by Charles De Lint
The Best of Michael Moorcock