It seems too good to be true, but SF author Samuel R. Delany is speaking at the Walker on November 15th, in conjunction with the exhibition Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis. Of his mind-bending masterpiece Dhalgren, critic Kate McKinney Maddalena writes “… [it] ranks Delany with Samuel Beckett; I would teach it as a Nouveau Roman alongside the work of Duras and Borges.” If you’re new to Delany, I might start with Babel-17, in which he manages to extend the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis to it’s unnatural and delirious conclusion.
It seemed as good a time as any to post some of my favorite science fiction book covers. Many designers unconsciously scan bookstore shelves for the work of Fred Troller, or Penguin paperbacks in general (omg Penguin Books has an online dating service?), or maybe now it’s Jon Gray, but for me it’s this series of Bantam science fiction covers from the ’70s and ’80s. I’ve found maybe 10 of these guys and a whole slew of rip-offs from other publishers. (Don’t ask me why I assume this series is the original and not itself a ripoff—I just know it. In my heart. They’re better.) The combination of the retro-futuristic illustrations, the bastardized Futura Black, and the sobriety of the layout is a beautiful example of restraint in a genre that relies on the fantastic. ***One detail you can’t see here is that the titles are all printed in metallic ink. ***I also threw in the cover for A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, Jr., which is another amazing post-apocalyptic novel.
They weren’t sure, but Bantam publishing thinks that Leonard Leone was most likely the art director for these books. I managed to talk to him on the phone a few months ago, but that’s a story for another day . . . (he seemed more interested in talking about some books he designed in the basement of the White House than these science fiction paperbacks, go figure).
And if you want to see a more recent interpretation of Delany’s science fiction novels, look here. Otherwise, make sure to check out the lecture!