Friday, February 12, 2016

Book cover: "First on Mars"
by Rex Gordon

  • Title: First on Mars
  • Author: Rex Gordon, pseudonym of British author Stanley Bennett Hough (1917-1998)
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: Ace Books (D-233)
  • Year: 1957
  • Pages: 192
  • Back-cover blurb: "One man ALONE on an alien world. He crash-landed on Mars fifteen years ahead of any other Earth expedition. He was without communications, without supplies, and with nothing but the wreck of an experimental rocket for resources. What is more it was the planet Mars as astronomers know it really to be — not just a fictional fantasy background for glamorous adventure. It was barren, cold, more grimly inhospitable than the top of Mount Everest. And if it had inhabitants, they were conspicuous by their absence. The story of how one determined man set out to survive on a world whose very air he couldn't safely breathe is an astounding science-fiction saga of the most grippingly realistic type ... a novel to be remembered."
  • Notes: Eat your heart out, Matt Damon! (And Andy Weir!) This novel, published nearly six decades before The Martian hit movie theaters, told the tale of a lone individual, Gordon Holder, with scant resources attempting to survive on Mars. ... It was originally published in 1956 in Britain as No Man Friday. ... It's still on my to-read pile, but I understands that its similarities to The Martian include the protagonist's need to secure supplies of oxygen and water, and its (immense) differences include the introduction of several types of alien life living on the planet. ... The novel falls into a genre known as Robinsonade, survival tales in the vein of Robinson Crusoe. ... It's a great shame that we don't know the name of the cover illustrator. When The Internet Speculative Fiction Database doesn't know the illustrator's identity, you know you have a true mystery on your hands. ... The Cheap Science Fiction Book Covers Gallery blog wrote a nice bit about the cover illustration in a 2010 post and was impressed that the "artist cared enough to accurately represent the author’s concepts."
  • Reviews and commentary: "An obscure British sf masterwork?" by Ian Sales in 2010. ... Comparison of Weir's The Martian with No Man Friday and other early science fiction classics, by Kris Milstead.

1 comment:

  1. I had this edition! I picked it up, secondhand, at a yard sale or something as a kid in the 1970s. Although I never finished reading the book, I distinctly remember that Erector Set pentacycle on the cover.