Down Memory Lane (Authors & Events) / Opinion & Featured Articles

Vintage Science Fiction Magazine: Planet Stories

planet stories magazine vintage science fiction
Planet Stories was a popular SF magazine primarily aimed at young pulp readers. Total 71 issues of the magazine were published between 1939 and 1955. Some of the top science fiction writers of the time including Leigh Brackett, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury wrote regularly for Planet Stories.

The content focussed on interplanetary adventures and sword & sorcery stories. Quite a few stories from Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles were first published on Planet Stories. The “Letters to the Editor” column was called “The Vizigraph”. It was a pretty colourful page with interesting letters from readers as well as established writers like Robert Silverberg.

Planet Stories featured some of the most amazing SF artwork of the time. Enigmatic spaceships, scantily clad damsels in distress, deadly villains, alien princesses in alien worlds made up a perfect escapist landscape. Acclaimed artists like Frank Paul, Hannes Bok, Kelly Freas, and Alexander Leydenfrost worked on Planet Stories’ interior artwork and cover.

With a final issue in the summer of 1955, Planet Stories closed down due to serious recession in the pulp market.

Interior Artwork

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Cover of the Week

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne

Many scholars translated the works of Jules Verne into English, but the single most prolific effort came from I.O. Evans. His translations, known as Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne, comprised of sixty eight volumes and were highly successful commercially. It can be argued that modern annotated translations of Verne are more scholarly, but the Herculean effort of Evans is truly admirable.

Fitzroy Editions published by Ace had some great cover art. Here are a few samples:

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules VerneVintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne

Vintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules VerneVintage Cover Art: Fitzroy Edition of Jules Verne












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Download ebook: H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds (PDF)

H G wells The war of the worldsWhen Capsules appear in the sky and land on Earth, people get confused. Next, gigantic, metallic creatures with tentacles creep out of the capsules and launch a devastating campaign against the inhabitants of the planet with heat rays and deadly vapours. Looks like Martians seek revenge for the havoc John Carter wrecked on Barsoom.

The Grandpa of all alien invasion sagas — H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds — follows the story of an unnamed protagonist living in England. As Martians launch metallic cylinders to take over good old Earth, our hero struggles to survive and protect his family. Of course, the Martians lose the battle, but not before a tense, exciting, and long fight.

Though the concept might sound dated, but actually the book would appear surprisingly modern to any reader. And the epic story leaves a grand impression on you.

Certainly better than the wretched movie that Spielberg and Cruise made out of it.

Download H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds ebook (PDF): Continue reading

Opinion & Featured Articles

My Desktop: A Reflection of My Love for SF & Fantasy

The image you are looking at is a screenshot of my desktop. It’s an ultimate minimalistic design, but suffices for me. I’ve the necessary programs pinned to the taskbar (which includes the desktop folder, Chrome, Firefox, my music, my movies etc.). The desktop icons are hidden; Rocket Dock at the upper right corner has My Computer and Recycle Bin. The clock  and system icons are Rainmeter applications. And can you recognize the wallpaper? It is a poster of the vintage SF film Forbidden Planet (1956).

Do you like my desktop? What does your desktop look like?

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Opinion & Featured Articles

10 Bestselling Science Fiction Books of All Time

science fiction art

Science fiction is a rather interesting realm. It is doubtful if SF is a part of the elite literary stuff, but it undeniably has a loyal and fairly broad fan base. Classic SF books have always made significant impact on the readers and a lot of them have sneaked into bestseller lists. SF gurus like H.G wells, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert and others are widely considered among the best of writers.

In 1932, Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World envisioned a terrifying world where individualism is treated with hatred. A decade later a new generation of talented writers (Bradbury, Heinlein, and Asimov to name a few) stumbled upon public consciousness, and the golden age of science fiction began.

Estimated sales figures for SF books, particularly the older ones, are rather foggy. The following list is a combination of sales, awards, and the magnitude of influence on the readers . Here is the controversial best of “alien invasions”, “man and machine” and “in a galaxy far, far away”:

stranger on a strange land heinleinStranger in a Strange Land Robert by A. Heinlein (Hugo Award Winner)

H.G Wells wrote about malicious Martians attacking our planet. The concept got a surprisingly innovative treatment from Heinlein. Michael Smith is born during a mission to Mars and raised there by the inhabitants of the planet. Mike returns to Earth one day. What happens next?

dune frank herbertDune by Frank Herbert (Hugo and Nebula Award Winner)

The epic tale of power struggle in Arrakis — the desert planet. Dune, which intrigues the readers even half a decade after its publication, is one of the most influential works of the genre. The book was followed by several other sequels.

2001 a space odyssey arthur c clarke2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Clarke’s Legendary Science Fiction novel, written concurrently with his screenplay for the film, is an unforgettable trip to the mysteries of the universe. This subversive, mind boggling tale encompasses human evolution, the perils of technology, and the magnitude of the universe. Widely recognized as a timeless classic.

The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Inspired lunacy. If you are not humoured by The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then you’re probably the reason that human beings are behind mice and dolphin in terms of intelligence. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Retro Hugo Award Winner)

In one of the most acclaimed SF book ever written, Bradbury describes a frightening world where books and independence of thought are prohibited. The very meaning of life is in question. Fahrenheit 451 was made into a movie by François Truffaut.

o androids dream of electric sheep philip k dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick (Nebula Award Winner)

In case you didn’t know, this is Harrison Ford’s cult classic — Blade Runner. It tells the story of a bounty hunter on a quest to kill eight androids. This post-apocalyptic novel is possibly Dick’s best known work.

foundation asimovFoundation Series by Isaac Asimov (Foundation’s Edge won both Hugo and Nebula Award)

One of the best grand masters of SF came up with one of the most sublime achievements in the history of the genre. Foundation delineates an attempt to save mankind from a corrupt empire by building a vast encyclopaedia of knowledge. The seven books in the series have taken SF literature to new heights.

ender's game cardEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Hugo and Nebula Award Winner)

Child prodigies hired to smash malevolent aliens in zero-gravity environments. An ultra cool concept by Card that works on multiple levels. Ender’s game was a huge success with readers of all ages.

childhood's end arthur c clarkeChildhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke (Retro Hugo Award Winner)

Giant air vessels appear from outer space and hover over all major cities on Earth. Over generations, the aliens/overlords solve human problems like hunger and crime, but they seem to have a purpose. What is it? Described as unsettling, pessimistic and deeply insightful, this book will leave a permanent impression on you.

gateway frederik pohl

Gateway by Frederik Pohl (Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and John W. Campbell Award Winner)

Humans have discovered relics from an alien civilization, which include numerous space ships. The lead character goes out on one of the space ships to bring back something worthwhile. On his third trip, he is rewarded, but it leaves him mentally wrecked for something happens during his journey. A creative story that won overwhelming critical acclaim.

Honorable mentions:

  1. Twenty thousand leagues under the sea by Jules Verne
  2. The Time Machine by H.G wells
  3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  5. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  6. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert a Heinlein
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. Rendezvous with Rama is a novel by Arthur C. Clarke
  9. Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein
  10. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller

What’s your pick? Which one do you think is the most underrated/overrated SF novel? Continue reading