Saturday, 27 July 2013

70s Saturday Sci-Fi Scans

Last week I realized that I might have given the wrong impression with the first installment of 70s Saturday Sci-Fi Scans, that it will all be about the Internet's favourite past time, snark. No, no, no. Jill Potenti is all about positive vibes and occasionally speaking in the third person. The fact is that book covers will never be so groovy again, just like children's educational television:

Why yes, that really is Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company!

Just take a look at...

The Other Side of the Sky

Arthur C. Clarke's Believe It or Not - Stories of our first outposts among the stars. Do you believe that computerizing "The Nine Billion Names of God" will put an end to our universe? What happens when aliens invade Earth after the biggest xenophobe ad campaign ever? Can man survive on a planet with only one side?
Believe it or not - astronauts have been known to use the moon as a tax shelter! Let space-age wizard Arthur C. Clarke set you straight on these and other important questions of our extraterrestrial age.

With a little more work and a shift in colour palette, this cover could easily be a proto prog rock cover. It's like the art director shrugged at the artist and said "I got nothing." Then the artist mashed together a few things and called it a night. I just love those green hands - are they Martians or zombies or...? The baby is the stuff of nightmares. And whatever do they have to do with Arthur C. Clarke stories from 1947-57. Short stories are always a personal pleasure. Sometimes too much detail becomes an info dump or needless padding. Clarke is a master at taking little moments and building great importance into them, and naturally many of these stories, like All the Time in the World have a twist ending, or, like Feathered Friend, a simple answer to an oversight. 

Upon re-reading these stories, I was pleased by how well they aged - the tone is perhaps a bit stuffy and a few things are oddly named - but human emotions never change. It's easy to forget, when the future is now, how the past thought about the future. As a child growing up in the 80s, I often wondered when "the future" would happen. Seems like it was delayed by only about thirty years. Yet it's easy to simply not know that others were thinking about the "future" as far back as the 1930s and 1940s - and laid the groundwork for the "future" to come.