Playboy Magazine & Imaginative Writers

HUGH HEFNER died this week but I’m not going to get into his role in the sex life of males post 1950s, or his debased brand of “feminism” here. One of the best things about Playboy magazine to me was its fiction. That it regularly published stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Finney, Roald Dahl, Frank Herbert, Jorge Luis Borges, Stephen King, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Fred Pohl, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Avram Davidson, Robert Silverberg, Robert Bloch, J.G. Ballard, Bernard Wolfe, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and many other imaginative writers has not been fully recognized, I believe, by fans of the science fiction and fantasy genre. Lithub has done us the favor of presenting 10 of, what it believes are, the best stories published by Playboy magazine.

50-Year-Old SF Film Predicts the Future

THE FOLLOWING bit of dialog is from the British science fiction movie Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

“If we found the Earth was doomed, say by some climatic event, what would we do about it?”

“Nothing. We’d just go on squabbling, as usual.”

(American title is Five Million Years to Earth.)

Robert Silverberg: The Philip Roth of the Science Fiction World

THE WASHINGTON POST posted a review of Robert Silverberg’s REFLECTIONS & REFRACTIONS by Michael Dirda at their site last night (and in today’s paper edition) calling Silverberg “The Philip Roth of the science fiction world”.

…his has been one of the most prodigious careers in all American letters.  /  Even readers who don’t know Silverberg’s fiction will certainly enjoy spending a few civilized hours with the man himself: In any movie of his life he would obviously be played by the meticulously urbane Jeremy Irons. Over the years Robert Silverberg has shown us many unsettling futures….

Of course we have published a few more books by Silverberg including the autobiographical OTHER SPACES, OTHER TIMES; LORD OF DARKNESS, a rare venture into historical fiction; and his follow-up to REFLECTIONS & REFRACTIONS, MUSINGS and MEDITATIONS: Reflections On Science Fiction, Science, And Other Matters.

New Gay Terry Book

THOUGH NOT published by us Gay Partington Terry’s new book, LIFE, DEATH AND BEYOND SMIGGLE’S BOTTOM, is now out. If you are a fan of her Meeting the Dog Girls you will also like this one. Highly recommended.

Felicity is an unforgettable character whose blow-your-mind-fantasy world is like nothing I have ever read. LIFE AND DEATH BEYOND SMIGGLE’S BOTTOM is hilarious and also might make you shed a tear or two. I could not put the book down.There is a great movie or TV series herein.
—Lloyd Kaufman, President, Troma Entertainment and Creator of The Toxic Avenger.

The Monkey’s Other Paw Trailer

The Monkey’s Other Paw book trailer from Luis Ortiz on Vimeo.

Meeting the Dog Girls Book Trailer

NS Not at the Worldcon Sale: Aug. 28-Sept. 3

25% OFF EVERYTHING. Since we will not be making an appearance at Worldcon this year we are instead doing our usual Worldcon sale of 25% off everything online. Now if you really want to save you can check out some of our bundles, and don’t forget our new books from Silverberg and Malzberg. Use coupon code NS25OFF between August 28 and September 3 to get your discount.

FREE Summer Reading eBooks

TODAY THROUGH FRIDAY, July 5 we are offering free downloads of pdf editions of select Nonstop Press anthologies and story collections including: Meeting The Dog Girls_promo by Gay Partington Terry, Why New Yorkers Smoke_promo edited by Luis Ortiz and SteampunkPrime-promo edited by Mike Ashley.

Cult Magazines Flip-through

HERE IS a short flip-through of CULT MAGAZINES: A to Z by Mark Frauenfelder of boing boing.

And another one from France (I think).

The Heyday of Illustrated Science Fiction Books

(Prelim spot art sketches by Jack Gaughan for Ace paperbacks c. 1965)

THE NEW YORKER magazine recently had a post titled “Bring Back the Illustrated Book!”. The piece outlines a time when profusely illustrated books were commonplace. When authors such as Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw and Dos Passos were paired with artists such as George Cruikshank,  John Tenniel, John Farleigh and Reginald Marsh. We are told, “ … in each case the author relied on the artwork not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but to add meaningfully to the story.” It seems that by the early 20th Century this publishing custom was already on the wan. Today it is rare to find an adult fiction book with interior illustrations.

Many old time science fiction fans who collect science fiction pulp and digest magazines already known about the great illustrators that served to enhance these publications. Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, Ed Emshwiller, Kelly Freas and other gifted artists were a vital part of these magazines. But there was also a heyday during the latter part of the 1960s into the beginning part of the 1970s when quite a few science fiction books, mainly anthologies, also contained interior illustrations. The high point of this practice may have been Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthologies, the first illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon and the second by Emshwiller.

One of our favorite artists Jack Gaughan illustrated a number of genre books for Ace Books, and later DAW, including the annual World’s Best Science Fiction series edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr. Growing up in New York City I would buy these collections in downtown used bookstores and remember wondering why all books weren’t similarly illustrated. I had the feeling even then that modern publishers considered the practice suitable only for juvenile books. But there was a time when it was mature enough for Dickens and George Bernard Shaw.

While we don’t see the wide-spread return of illustrated adult books, we would like to point out that every story in the Nonstop anthology  Steampunk Prime, edited by Mike Ashley, is illustrated in a manner inspired by Ace Books back in the day and Nonstop Press does have plans to do more anthologies using this format. They do work well as ebooks, serving to break up long blocks of text on e-reader screens, and of course improve the aesthetic appeal of the whole package.