Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Book cover: "Untouched by Human Hands"

  • Title: Untouched by Human Hands
  • Author: Robert Sheckley (1928-2005)
  • Cover artist: Bob Blanchard (1914-1993)
  • Publisher: Ballantine (437K)
  • Cover price: 35 cents
  • Publication date: Second printing (November 1960)
  • Pages: 170 (if you include the author's bio page)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover excerpt: "These thirteen tales, untouched even by the hands of anthologists, may remind some of you of the brightest days of 'Unknown Worlds,' and others of Shirley Jackson or John Collier." — H.H. Holmes
  • Wait. H.H. Holmes? Probably Anthony Boucher.
  • Contents: In addition to the title story, the 13 tales include "The Monsters" and "Beside Still Waters."
  • First sentence: Cordovir and Hum stood on the rocky mountaintop, watching the new thing happen.
  • Last sentence: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me..."
  • Random sentence from middle: He was busily studying the red dwarf.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.2 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review (without much review): In 2010, Erik Graff wrote: "When I moved to Grinnell College as a freshman to room with my high school friend Richard Hyde, our next-door neighbor in Loose Hall was one Rick Strong, a sophomore from Riverdale in the Bronx. He was the first New Yorker I ever got to know, the first serious musician, and, like me, a long-time science fiction fan. Unlike me at that time, Rick was also very funny and had a particular liking for Robert Sheckley, himself a science fiction writer of a humorous bent. This, I believe, was the first Sheckley book Rick loaned me. I read it at Grinnell's Project House, the campus radical hotbed where I spent a lot of time during the first year there."
  • Amazon rating: 4.0 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2013, M. Holmes wrote: "We are told that we are products of our times. I think this means that a person from a given time period can't write quite like a person from another. The 1950's are a gold mine of great science fiction. Sheckley's work is a delightful and perfect example."
  • Notes: I love this cover illustration by Blanchard, but it's not quite creepy enough for Mild Fear 2018. So you get this post tonight. ... The biography of Sheckley on the back page explains that his post high school graduation life included hitchhiking to California and working as a landscape gardener, pretzel salesman, milkman and "man-of-all-labor in a hand-painted-necktie studio." That was so enthralling that he hitchhiked back to New Jersey and joined the U.S. Army. It was only after his Army service that he enrolled in New York University and began writing short stories. But he couldn't sell any of them. So after graduating from college he went to work in an aircraft factory as an assistant metallurgist. It was only after he'd been on that job for a few months that he sold his first story. So the lesson, as it is for all writers, is to never give up. ... Sheckley has previously appeared in these two Papergreat posts: Book cover: "Galaxy of Ghouls" and Fanzine flashback #1: 1964's "Con" by Christopher Priest.

For the record
I wrote this post while Sarah was in the other room, describing the Lizzie Borden case to her grandmother.

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