Secret technology, strange vehicles and adventures on distant planets…

… in Jack Vance’s The Five Gold Bands. This is one of my latest finds at my favourite second hand bookstore. The cover caught my eye, but it was the sub-title that sold the book – “The biggest manhunt in galactic history”. How could I resist a story of these epic proportions? (And at a mere cost of ten swedish crowns, I saw no reason to either.”

The greenish yellow color of the cover is almost nauseating. I get the feeling that this is a hostile, dangerous environment. The vehicle is awesome, but I can’t help but wonder what the dome on top of the roof is for? Probably has some kind of purpose…

Part of the description of the back:

Earth lacked the secret of the interstellar space drive. So when it turned out that the galaxy was chock full of wealthy planets and haughty aliens who had the star drive, it made our native world a backward place indeed.

The Five Gold Bands tells the story of how Paddy Blackthorne, from Earth, goes on a quest to get hold of the technology behind “star drive”. I’m guessing it’s worth reading, I mean “The biggest manhunt in galactic history” does create high expectations. Up until now I’ve only read Vance’s Tales of the Dying Earth, which I liked a lot.  

Heartcrested skull and psychedelic colours…

… define the cover of Four For the Future.

Psychedelic lines revolve around a human skull, from which heartlike growths protrude, on the cover of Four For the Future, a collection of short stories, centred on themes of sacrifice and redemption. It contains stories by Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, James Blish och Harry Harrisson. This cover is almost nauseating, with the confusing lines disturbing the eye. Somehow it is still a captivating image, with the strong symbols of life and death in the form of the skull and the heart.

Good combo: barbarians and space ships

Description:

THE BARBARIANS IN THEIR LONG SHIPS WAITED AT THE EDGE OF THE GALAXY…

… waited for the ancient Terran Empire to fall, while two men struggled to save it: ex-Admiral McCORMAC, forced to rebel against a corrupt Emperor, and Starship Commander FLANDRY, the brilliant young officer who served the Imperium even as he scorned it.

Trapped between them was the woman they both loved, but couldn’t share: the beautiful Kathryn – whose single word could decide the fate of a billion suns.

Poul Anderson is one of those writers who has been on my To Read List forever. Last time I went to my favourite second hand book store, I found this copy of The Rebel Worlds, the cover immediately caught my eye. The vibrant splashes of colour are beautiful and the strange creatures intriguing. I’m hoping that this will be a space adventure to my liking.

A broken down generation ship drifts through space…

Cover of the Week:

Description:

In this, his first SF novel, Brian Aldiss immediately demonstrated his exuberant range and versatility.

A hair-raising and audacious tale of a lost tribe trapped in a world of space-ships, time machines, giants, armed rats, outcasts and raiders. A tribe travelling almost without hope to an unknown future…

I wonder what motivated the artist behind the cover to make the man’s head a patch of starry black, like the sky at night, and give him eyes that are radiant celestial bodies. Can’t wait to read this book, how could anyone resist a story containing armed rats? (Sorry for the lousy image.)

Towards distant stars…

Cover of the Week:

Farthest Star, The Saga of Cuckoo (1976) av Frederik Pohl & Jack Williamson.

Description from the back:

There was no shortage of danger on Cuckoo.

20, 000 light years away, the enormous flat surface of Cuckoo travelling at one-sixth the speed of light aimed arrow-straight at the galaxy.

Sun One sent the space probe Aurora with a crew of replicates, both human and alien, to intercept. It was a doomed ship.

Yet from that mission came Ground Station One, peopled by tachyon transmission, its crew impatient to explore the menace of Cuckoo.

Towards them flee a young nomadic wingman, a redbearded giant, and a replicate Ben Yale Pertin intent only on survival, until a frightened girl screams for help…

I bought this book at a second-hand book shop earlier this week and have not read it yet. Sounds interesting (though a bit cliché with that last sentence where reluctant Ben is only concerned about his own survival until he hears the desperate plea for help from a frightened girl…). The cover art is beautiful, where the white dust clouds float together in soft shapes, with sharp contrasts between that pale pink sphere and the blackness of the background.