Science fiction paperbacks exploded over the Fourties and Fifties literary landscape with the force of an alien gamma bomb and now a brand new book from Rian Hughes (The Black Locomotive) could be published which explores these pieces of classic SF history.
Named Rayguns And Rocketships, the book explores titles such as Rodent Mutation!, Beyond the Galaxy, Dawn of the Mutants and Mushroom Men from Mars which appeared from fly-by-night publishers making the most of the end of postwar paper rationing.
The stories were often conceived around a pre-commissioned cover from an artist, and a title suggested by the publisher. The story writers were paid by the word, and occasionally not paid at all; titles were knocked out at a key-pounding pace, sometimes over a weekend, by authors now lost to literary history (and a few slumming professionals), some of whom hid behind pseudonyms such as Steve Future, Volsted Gridban, Brian Storm and Vargo Statten.
Despite the punishing deadlines and poor pay, the books’ cover artists managed to produce artworks of multihued, brain-bending brilliance, and collected here is some of the best of their output during an unparalleled period of brash optimism and opportunism in book publishing.
Don’t take our word for it, just feast your eyes on some of the covers in our gallery here…
A Kickstarter has been launched for Rayguns And Rocketships, find out more here.