Science Fiction Monthly

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Art by Chris Foss.

Recent uploads at the Internet Archive include an incomplete run of British magazine Science Fiction Monthly, a large-format collection of SF art and original fiction that ran for 28 issues from 1974 to 1976. Science Fiction Monthly was significant for my generation since it was the only regular British SF magazine available in the mid-70s. (Michael Moorcock and co. were still producing issues of New Worlds but the only ones I saw were the quarterly paperbacks). Science Fiction Monthly was published by New English Library which made it seem at first glance like a promotional tool for the publisher, even more so when most of the cover art and almost all the ads were for NEL titles. The early issues lean heavily on NEL content but later issues had a broader reach and contained all the features you’d expect from an SF magazine of the period: news columns, film reviews, interviews, a bad comic strip, and so on. The thing I liked most at the time was the reproduction of book cover art at a large size, with full-colour paintings filling the broadsheet pages or spreads, all printed with the intention of being removed and fixed to bedroom walls. The early issues were also unique in giving regular attention to the artists, running interviews and even showing photographs of the people responsible for all of that familiar paperback art. I didn’t see all of the early issues but the interviews were later collected in book form by NEL in Visions of the Future (Janet Sacks ed., 1976), a volume that made a considerable impression since it showed me that SF and fantasy illustration was a viable career rather than the product of remote and mysterious talents.

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Artist Bruce Pennington (see this post).

A few page samples follow. It’s a shame the collection at the Internet Archive is incomplete since the magazine’s contents were interesting to the end. The only copy I own today is the one for October 1975 (not currently available online) which is almost a JG Ballard special, with a feature on the writer, an interview about his new novel, High-Rise, and an original piece of fiction.

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Art by Bruce Pennington.

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Art by David Pelham.

Continue reading “Science Fiction Monthly”

Roger Dean postage stamps

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Roger Dean book covers last week; this week it’s postage stamps. These are exclusive to the Isle of Man Post Office, unfortunately, so there’s little chance of buying them over the counter in mainland Britain. First day covers, presentation packs and individual sheets may be ordered from the post office website, however. For those who can visit the Isle of Man there’s also an exhibition of Dean’s art running at the Manx Museum in Douglas until November.

Several of the paintings on the stamps are from the covers for albums by Yes and Asia, including the one above which was used twice on the live Yessongs album in 1973. (The large version inside the gatefold had a figure of a girl and a fish spacecraft added.) The version appearing on the stamp is Dean’s recent reworking of the piece. This removed the airbrushed clouds—added to disguise the footprints of his cats which had walked over the painting when it was drying—and also smoothed the gradients and added a reflection. I’ve been familiar with the album version of this picture for decades so I prefer the rougher original as it is on the cover (and in Dean’s Views book) without the girl and spacecraft.

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One other thing of note is Dean’s lettering design for the stamps. When I wrote about Dean’s art a few years ago I drew attention to the way his design work has been either marginalised or ignored altogether by people who dismiss him as a mere fantasy artist. All of Dean’s album covers have included unique letterforms that are immediately recognisable as his own (so too the logos and lettering he was designing for computer games in the 1980s) but I’ve yet to see this side of his work given any serious attention. (Postage stamp tip via It’s Nice That.)

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Roger Dean book covers
Design as virus 17: Boris and Roger Dean
Roger Dean: artist and designer

Roger Dean book covers

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The View Over Atlantis (1972).

The covers in question are the handful that Roger Dean produced for paperbacks in the 1970s and 80s, rather than those for his own books and the ones he edited. Given the popularity of Dean’s work in the 1970s you’d expect there to be more than this although I’m not sure he would have had the time for any more work than he was doing already.

The two covers for Pan Science Fiction vexed me for a while since the art is reproduced in Dean’s Views collection but with no mention of the book titles. It’s taken some time, but ISFDB has updated its Roger Dean page so I can finally sate my curiosity. The Michell cover is an ideal illustration for the author’s theorising about ley lines but the Pan SF paintings are vague enough to be used on other books, or even on album covers.

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The Puppet Masters (1973).

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Gold the Man (1973).

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The War of the Worlds (1986).

I’ve not read the Colin Greenland books so I can’t say whether their cover art relates to the novels but the Wells cover certainly does. A rare example of Dean depicting a scene from somebody else’s imagination.

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The Hour of the Thin Ox (1987).

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Other Voices (1988).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Design as virus 17: Boris and Roger Dean
Roger Dean: artist and designer

Weekend links 254

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Gatefold sleeve for Love, Death and the Lady (1970) by Shirley & Dolly Collins. Photo by Allan Willmoth. No designer credited.

• “When you look at a lot of modern album covers, the art school obsession with the Helvetica kind of undermines it. So instead of looking at an artefact that comes from another place entirely, you are looking at an artefact that has been caught and tamed and made corporate.” Roger Dean talking to Liv Siddall about cover design in the 1970s.

• Erik Davis talks to Stephen Finley, author of Esotericism in African American Religious Experience, about hoodoo and metaphysical blackness. Related: Sun Ra’s Afrofuturist masterwork, Space Is The Place, has been reissued by Harte Recordings as a limited DVD, CD and hardcover book.

• “…she has managed to unearth a coal-seam of neglected songs and stories, incantations of the working people from across the English-speaking planet with their edge of discord left intact, the harmonies frayed by hard-won experience.” Alan Moore on the great Shirley Collins.

[MR] James’s influence, or his example, has rarely been more strongly with us than now. For there is presently apparent, across what might broadly be called landscape culture, a fascination with these Jamesian ideas of unsettlement and displacement. In music, literature, art, film and photography, as well as in new and hybrid forms and media, the English eerie is on the rise. A loose but substantial body of work is emerging that explores the English landscape in terms of its anomalies rather than its continuities, that is sceptical of comfortable notions of “dwelling” and “belonging”, and of the packagings of the past as “heritage”, and that locates itself within a spectred rather than a sceptred isle.

Such concerns are not new, but there is a distinctive intensity and variety to their contemporary address. This eerie counter-culture—this occulture—is drawing in experimental film-makers, folk singers, folklorists, academics, avant-garde antiquaries, landscape historians, utopians, collectives, mainstreamers and Arch-Droods alike, in a magnificent mash-up of hauntology, geological sentience and political activism. The hedgerows, fields, ruins, hills and saltings of England have been set seething.

Robert Macfarlane on the eerieness of the English countryside

• Lots of mixes to choose from this week: Songs from a Railway Station at Dusk by Abigail Ward; mix series The Ivy-Strangled Path by David Colohan is now up to Volume IV; a trove of occult psychedelia from The Ghost of the Weed Garden.

• “Blood Meridian was released on April 28, 1985 to little initial acclaim, but would later gain recognition as one of the most significant novels of the late 20th century.” Ted Gioia on the rise and fall of the Western.

• From the past week’s zones of research: the Gregory Pendennis Library Of Black Sorcery, and Vault Of Evil: Brit Horror Pulp Plus!

• At Dangerous Minds: Zappa meets claymation in the wonderful VHS rarity The Amazing Mr. Bickford.

Synthesizer manuals at the Internet Archive.

• Pages from The Graphic Canon at Pinterest.

Sabbath, a new song by Jenny Hval

French book covers

The Cruel Mother (1967) by Shirley Collins | The Unquiet Grave (1968) by Shirley Collins | Go From My Window (1970) by Shirley & Dolly Collins

Weekend links 221

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Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) (1946) by Joseph Cornell.

• Having been a Bernard Szajner enthusiast for many years it’s good to see his music receiving some belated reappraisal. David McKenna talked to Szajner about his Visions Of Dune album (which is being reissued by InFiné next month), laser harps, The (Hypothetical) Prophets, and working with Howard Devoto.

• Priscilla Frank posts some big views of Marjorie Cameron’s occult paintings as a preview of the forthcoming exhibition at MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles.

• Fascinating reading in light of the recent kerfuffle over True Detective, Christopher Loring Knowles on the possible sources of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

Those who set up oppositions between the electronic technology and that of the printing press perpetuate Frollo’s fallacy. They want us to believe that the book—an instrument as perfect as the wheel or the knife, capable of holding memory and experience, an instrument that is truly interactive, allowing us to begin and end a text wherever we choose, to annotate in the margins, to give its reading a rhythm at will—should be discarded in favor of a newer tool. Such intransigent choices result in technocratic extremism. In an intelligent world, electronic devices and printed books share the space of our work desks and offer each of us different qualities and reading possibilities. Context, whether intellectual or material, matters, as most readers know.

Alberto Manguel, lucid as always, on the act and import of reading.

• “It’s time to give prog rock’s artist-in-residence Roger Dean his due,” says Amber Frost. No argument there, I did my bit in 2010.

• “Why do the covers of so many self-published books look like shit?” asks B. David Zarley.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 455 by Airhead, and Secret Thirteen mix 225 by Clock DVA.

• At Core77: Rain Noe chooses favourite skyscraper photos by Russian urban explorers.

• “O, Excellent Air Bag”: Mike Jay on the nitrous oxide fad of the early 19th century.

Nick Carr goes in search of Manhattan’s last remaining skybridges.

Lauren Bacall at Pinterest.

• Shaï Hulud (1979) by Zed (Bernard Szajner) | Welcome (To Death Row) (1980) by Bernard Szajner | Person To Person (1982) by The (Hypothetical) Prophets