Frank Kelly Freas Illustrates A. Bertram Chandler’s “The Far Traveller”

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Frank Kelly Freas The Far Traveller-small Frank Kelly Freas The Far Traveller b&w-small

Analog August 1976-smallI thought I’d go back to Frank Kelly Freas today, and post one that most folks won’t be familiar with, at least as it looks in the original. This was an interior illustration by Freas for the August 1976 issue of Analog, illustrating A. Bertram Chandler’s “The Far Traveller” (click on the images above for full-size versions). This was one of the tales in Chandler’s Commander Grimes series. The Analog cover, by John Schoenherr, is at right.

Since it was an interior, it was printed in black and white (which you can see above), but the original was in color. I assume Freas did that for the shading effects he’d get when it was reproduced in black and white, but perhaps one of my artist friends can chime in with their thoughts on that.

Art from the SF digests during that period holds a special place for me. This was the summer when, as a 12 year old, I discovered that SF digests were still being published. A few months earlier, I’d found my first SF digests (primarily F&SF from the 1950’s and early 1960’s) at a garage sale in a large barn. But in May 1976, I was spending the day at my dad’s office, and after lunch I went to the drugstore across the street.

There I found the June 1976 issues of both F&SF and Analog, and snapped them up in a heartbeat. After that, I bought them and the other couple of digests then being published religiously. I was fortunate enough many years ago to acquire the cover to that June 1976 Analog (which I’ll post at some point), but the cover for the June 1976 F&SF continues to elude me. But one day!


Witch Doctors and Mind-Reading Sleuths: Richard Powers’ Interior Art for 1950s Men’s Adventure Magazines

Monday, February 1st, 2016 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Richard Powers White Witch Doctor men 1957 01-small

In going through several hundred issues of men’s adventure magazines for this year’s upcoming Jerry Weist estate auction at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, I came across the interior illo above by Richard Powers. It’s from the January 1957 issue of Men.

I was actually surprised how many great artists appeared in the issues of Men that I went through, including Bama, Saunders, De Soto, Belarski and many, many more. Some really great art in there!

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Tracking Down Frank Kelly Freas’ Planet Stories Cover for “The Ambassadors of Flesh”

Friday, January 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Planet Stories Summer 1954-small

A little while ago, I posted one of our two big IlluxCon purchases — a Hubert Rogers Astounding cover that we had arranged to buy over the summer from a friend, and the deal was completed at IlluxCon. This is the other major piece we picked up there, also from the same friend (click for a bigger version).

It’s by the great Frank Kelly Freas, and is the cover for the Summer 1954 issue of Planet Stories. It illustrates “The Ambassadors of Flesh” by Poul Anderson, which was the third of his Dominic Flandry stories. Needless to say, Flandry saves the day, and the girl.

Like all of the original Planet Stories covers I’ve seen, the block where the magazine’s logo went was just painted as a solid color. My friend had the logo scanned and printed onto mylar, which is laid in on top of the painting as it’s framed, so the logo is actually not on the artwork. Freas won the first of his ten Best Artist Hugos in 1955, about a year after this painting was published.

On a side note, artist Herman Vestal, a Fiction House regular, contributed a double-page spread which ran as the interior illustration for this story. Several years ago at Windy City, I managed to pick up the left half of that illo (still looking for the right half!), which has Flandry in a good action scene. I’ll post that down the road.


Bradley W. Schenck Shows Us Grace Keaton on Her Aeroflite Flying Scooter

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Grace Keaton on her Aeroflite

Over on his Webomator blog, artist Bradley W. Schenck has posted a work-in-progress I like a lot, part of his ongoing Retropolis art series. He tells this brief story to go along with the painting.

Here’s Grace Keaton on her aged but serviceable Aeroflite flying scooter; it’s a work vehicle, standard issue for couriers in the Retropolis Courier Service. Grace makes her deliveries on the notoriously dangerous Route X and she’s the longest-lasting (in fact, the only surviving) courier on that route.

Route X couriers make four times the wages of normal couriers and Grace works half days. That’s a comfortable living for a graduate student. Unless you weaken. But somebody has to deliver along Route X. How else would the denizens of Retropolis’ Experimental Research District get their ‘mildly’ toxic chemicals, their suspiciously glowing minerals, or their generally illegal biological specimens?

See all the details here.


Ancient Lixus: A Roman City in Morocco

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

The amphitheater of Lixus. Photo courtesy Almudeana Alonso-Herrero.

The amphitheater of Lixus. Photo courtesy Almudena Alonso-Herrero.

Happy New Year! Or Sana Sayeeda as they say in Arabic! I’m back from another trip to Morocco, and this time besides staying at our usual place in the medina of Tangier, I and my wife also visited the ancient city of Lixus on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

Like many cities of Roman Morocco, it’s been inhabited since prehistory, and became a Phoenician colony starting around the 8th century BC. The Phoenicians called Lixus Makom Shemesh (“City of the Sun”). It is believed to be their southernmost colony, but considering the many good bays and coves that stud the Atlantic coast to the south, I’m wondering if an archaeological survey might uncover more.

The ruins stand on a hill overlooking Oued Loukos estuary and the city was an important fishing port as well as a fish processing and salt panning center, the products then being shipped to the Mediterranean. Salt is still being panned in this region today.

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Guides to Worlds Fantastic and Strange

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

I’ve always loved maps — following rivers to the seas, tracing the shores of those seas, and then crossing them by fingertip to a distant land. My dad had a giant Rand-McNally atlas that I took possession of when I was ten or eleven and never returned. I would pore over its pages, puzzling out how to say the names of cities like Dnepropetrovsk or Tegucigalpa and wondering what exactly was the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Today, my favorite atlas is the Cram’s Unrivaled Family Atlas of the World 1889 that my grandfather scavenged from a work site. As with my dad’s, I quickly assumed ownership of the book. Better than a lot of history I’ve read, it conveys the reality of the past in finely drawn lines. The vast scope of the British and Russian empires — the web of conquered lands covering Africa and Asia — are right there in clear pastel pinks and yellows. Images conjured up in my brain while reading were made concrete on the pages before me.

And, of course, I love maps in fantasy books. Always have, from those very first ones I saw in The Lord of the Rings and the Conan books. While Tolkien’s maps are intricate, lovingly created works of art, and the one of Hyboria is spare and undetailed, both intensify the illusion that the books’ worlds are real. They may not have been as vast and detailed as my dad’s atlas, but they were as captivating. While a book doesn’t need to include a map, I’m a fan of one that does. It’s an added bonus that I really dig. (To read another piece I wrote about maps several years ago, you can click HERE).

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Hubert Rogers’ Astounding Covers — And His Fascinating Correspondence with Robert A. Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp

Thursday, December 24th, 2015 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Astounding April 1941 Hubert Rogers-small

At IlluxCon this past October, one of our major purchases was a pulp painting by artist Hubert Rogers. Rogers was Astounding Science Fiction’s primary cover artist from late 1939 to early 1952, with a break from 1943 through 1946 due to World War II (which he spent in Canada painting war posters and other paintings related to the war). We’d made arrangements over the summer to buy it from a friend of ours, who had owned it for many years, and he drove it up to IlluxCon with him so we could complete the deal.

This one appeared on the cover for Astounding, April 1941, and illustrated “The Stolen Dormouse” by L. Sprague de Camp. Shortly after its publication, De Camp wrote to Rogers, asking if he could acquire the painting, which he did.

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New Treasures: Penguin Science Fiction Postcards: 100 Book Covers in One Box

Monday, December 14th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Penguin Science Fiction 2

We’ve already established that I’m a sucker for a cool cover. I don’t have time to read a fraction of the books I buy, but I can look at great cover art all day long. Put an eye-catching cover on your book, and you’ve got my immediate attention.

Put a hundred cool covers on your book, and you can just shut up and take my money.

I think that’s the overall idea behind Penguin Science Fiction Postcards: 100 Book Covers in One Box. It’s sort of like a science fiction book with a great cover, but minus the book. And with 99 other covers. And with the added bonus that you’ll never lack for postcards again, when you need to drop a note to your uncle to remind him to return your copy of The Stars Like Dust. And did I mention the cool box?

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See Lester Del Rey’s Art Direction to Michael Whelan for A Fighting Man of Mars

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Michael Whelan's rough art for A Fighting Man of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs-small

We just got this piece, a preliminary by Michael Whelan for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Fighting Man of Mars. [Click for bigger version.]

On the back was an interesting note by publisher Lester Del Rey, so I’m including a scan of that as well.

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Vintage Treasures: Rudy Gutierrez Does Nalo Hopkinson

Friday, December 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Brown Girl in the Ring-small The Midnight Robber-small Sister Mine-small

About fifteen years ago, I received an unsolicited fantasy story from a young author in Canada. I rejected it, and the author didn’t take the rejection well. She wrote me a pretty grumpy letter.

You sometimes get grumpy letters when you reject stories. Usually the best thing to do is ignore them. But I didn’t in this case, because the author had a point. It was an excellent story, and she knew it. The author’s name was Nalo Hopkinson, and I had rejected her story because of its frankly adult tone and content.

Well, she took me to task for that. Black Gate was brand new at the time, and Nalo challenged me for rejecting a story purely on the grounds of sexual content. She found it cowardly, and I didn’t blame her. That’s no way to build a reputation for a new magazine, she said. In my response, I told her I would have loved to publish her story — but not in Black Gate, which we had worked very hard to make suitable for readers 12 and up. I thought there was a clear market niche for a family-friendly fantasy magazine, and had set out to create one. Her story was very strong, but no so strong that I was willing to go back on the promises I’d made to our investors, distributors and advertisers. Nalo got that immediately, wrote me a warm and thoughtful response, and we hit it off. I’ve followed her career with great interest ever since — and what a stellar career it’s been.

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