Friday, February 3, 2017

Science-fiction book cover: "The War Against the Rull"

(Note: This cover has a significant tear on the right-hand side that has been addressed with clear tape. But I think that just adds to its "character," in the same way that the old price sticker enhanced The Memory Bank last week.)

  • Title: The War Against the Rull
  • Cover blurb: "A fascinating novel of galactic peril and adventure"
  • Author: A.E. van Vogt (1912-2000)
  • Cover illustrator: Uncertain (see below)
  • Publisher: A Permabook edition published by Pocket Books (M-4263)
  • Date of publication: 1962
  • Price: 35 cents
  • Pages: 187
  • Format: Paperback
  • Excerpt from back-cover blurb: "A Rull, you see, can change its outward appearance at will, so that even your closest friend or most trusted colleague may suddenly turn out to be a spy in disguise."
  • First sentence: As the spaceship vanished into the steamy mists of Eristan II, Trevor Jamieson drew his gun.
  • Last sentence: While these matters developed, the galactic-wide Rull-human war ended.
  • Thanks for the spoiler alert: Sorry.
  • Random sentence from middle: From the causeway Diddy looked down at a dimly glowing world of huge, cubelike structures.
  • There's a character named Diddy? Yes.

  • Other character names: Commander McLennan, Ira Clugy, Peter Clugy, and a love interest named Veda who is described as "a woman of intense emotion."
  • Notes: This novel, originally published in hardcover in 1959, combines six short stories that were originally published in Astounding Science Fiction with two new connecting chapters. ... Goodreads reviewer Brian Schwartz, while giving the book 3 stars (out of 5), writes:
    "It is quite easy to tell where the seams are. Van Vogt put little effort into the rewrite to concoct a novel from these unconnected stories. What emerges is a disjointed, difficult to follow tale with no character development or arc and no real plot line. Van Vogt's penchant for doing fix up novels, some would argue, reduced his standing in the science fiction community. Those readers new to Van Vogt's work might pick up one of these fix up novels and wonder how this man ever got published."
    ... I love the cover of this paperback, though. It has a bit of Saul Bass flair to it. There is no official agreement on the artist, but some have suggested it was done by Science Fiction Hall of Fame illustrator Richard M. Powers (1921-1996). Others strongly disagree that it was Powers. So I guess we'll never know for sure. ... This cover has its critics, some of whom call it lazy and abstract. But I like it because it captures that feel of 1950s/1960s pulp science fiction. And I'll take those covers any day over the crap that started showing up on genre paperbacks from the mid-1970s onward.

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