Sunday, December 6, 2020

Semi-psychedelic book cover: "Gather in the Hall of the Planets"

  • Title: Gather in the Hall of the Planets
  • Author: K.M. O'Donnell (a pen name for Barry N. Malzberg)
  • Groovy cover illustrator who is 90% of the reason for this post: Jack Gaughan (1930-1985)
  • Publisher: Ace Books (Ace Double 27415, paired with O'Donnell's In the Pocket and Other S-F Stories on the flipside)
  • Cover price: 75 cents
  • Year: 1971
  • Pages: 121 (the flipside novel is 132 pages, followed by 3 pages of advertisements)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Title page secondary text: "Being a novelized version of the remarkable interplanetary events that took place at the World Science Fiction Convention of 1974."
  • Dedication: For Donald A. Wollheim
  • First sentence: In the August night, three aliens come to Kvass and sit to converse with him.
  • Last sentence: Considering the way that things were going his career when the whole goddamned thing broke open over him, this is probably for the very best.
  • Random passage from the middle: "Hey, Marcus, would you notice if there seem to be any aliens around the convention? People who don't seem quite human, that is to say; people a little bit out of the ordinary."
  • Random long sentence from the middle: "Katie Elizabeth Templeton is gathering strength and force; Katie Elizabeth Templeton is reaching deep into her history to emerge with a stinging left hook that is somehow intrinsic to her quest for human relationships and Kvass, succumbing once again to his feeling of detachment (but with a good overlay of panic as well; he recognizes at least three of the editors to whom Katie has been talking; he needs these markets), floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, slips the hook and a following jab and, discovering a small space between bodies to his left, runs to daylight."
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2015, Timo Pietila wrote: "An alien visits an almost-past-his-prime science fiction author and tells him that one of the visitors of the upcoming Worldcon is an alien in disguise. He is supposed to find out who the imposter is, or humanity is doomed as the aliens will then destroy humanity as unworthy. The alien is supposed to be someone he knows very well. Unfortunately, most people he meets at the Worldcon are pretty strange – but they are being their normal selves. How will it be possible to find the alien? Or since his career is nothing really spectacular, should he even bother? Why should he even care about humanity? A very cynical book with a cynical protagonist and cynical outlook towards fandom. The author seems to hate fandom and conventions and lets it show."
  • Excerpt from Rich Horton's Strange at Ecbatan blog: "The bulk of the action takes place at the Worldcon. Naturally a big part of the joke is that SF fans and writers are strange enough that there is no way you can tell if one of them is an alien. ... Besides Kvass's search for the alien, there are passages describing rather cynically a typical convention, with annoying fans, sex-mad quasi-groupies, and drunk pros. There are what seem to be portrayals of a few well-known SF figures: A. E. van Vogt, Sam Moskowitz, Fred Pohl, Damon Knight, John Campbell, and probably others I missed." ... Check out Horton's full post for other interesting thoughts on Malzberg's bibliography.

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