Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vintage Scholastic cover: Revolt on Alpha C

If this book, Revolt on Alpha C, had been on my shelves last autumn when I was putting together the epic Scholastic Fest countdown of my Top 25 favorite covers, I think it would have had a great shot of finishing in the top 10. But, since it only joined the shelves this year, the book will have to experience a lifetime of regret for what could have been. (Assuming books can experience regret, which is unlikely. So never mind.)

In lieu of official glory, however, let's chat about this mid-century volume a bit.

This is the August 1962 second printing of a TAB Books paperback published for Scholastic Book Services as TX137. Revolt on Alpha C was written by Robert Silverberg, who is coincidentally also the author of Scholastic Fest's #1 book — Lost Race of Mars.

Revolt on Alpha C was illustrated by William Meyerriecks. There's not much information out there on Meyerriecks, but this is certainly a great cover. Another Scholastic cover he is credited with is Spooky Magic.

This book was Silverberg's first published novel, originally coming out when he was 19 or 20. According to a description of the novel on ("The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site")...
"Revolt on Alpha C is not a major work by any standard, but as Silverberg's first novel it does occupy a cherished place in the history of science fiction. It contains many of the hallmarks of his later work (distrust of authority, questioning of tradition), but in embryonic form, showing more promise than accomplishment. In spite of its shortcomings, it has been reprinted many times (including an unknown number of printings by SBS with different covers) and translated into foreign languages."
Amusingly, the novel features a character named Harl Ellison — a tribute to Silverberg's neighbor, Harlan Ellison. (Man, what was in the tap water in that neighborhood!?)

Here's an excerpt featuring the opening passage of Silverberg's rookie novel:
"The stopover at Pluto was brief, but for Larry Stark it seemed to be much too long. The Carden and its crew had spent a week on the cold, small planet at the outermost edge of the solar system, making the necessary change-over to overdrive. This was the second stop on a journey that would take him to the fourth planet of the star Alpha Centauri, four and a half light-years away."

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