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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Ace Doubles

Last night I treated myself to dinner with friends from the Nova Mob and a meeting. I can't get to Melbourne SF Club meetings, alas, because they're on Friday nights, when I celebrate Sabbath with my family. So once a month I go to dinner and, if not too tired, go to the Nova Mob meeting after. Sometimes there's a guest speaker(one time last year they had Shaun Tan and I couldn't go!). Other times members offer to talk about something of interest to the group.

 Last night it was Murray, who has been collecting Ace Doubles for years, from second hand shops and wherever he could find theme. He did a PowerPoint, but his collection was there for us to admire afterwards. The books were old and shabby but fascinating.


What were Ace Doubles? Between the 1950s and the 70s Ace Publishing did a series of books which had two novels under one cover. You'd read one, turn it over and read the other. Well, I say novels, but really, they were only about 20,000 words each. Otherwise you couldn't have had two together. But it's amazing to see who was on that list, whose names appeared. Poul Anderson.Andre Norton. Brian Aldiss. Philip K. Dick's very first book. Ursula LeGuin. The original version of Gordon R.Dickson's Dorsai!, then known as The Genetic General.


There were not only SF books. There were Westerns and romances and crime fiction. Also, some of the cover artists were, or became, famous. Kelly Freas, for example, who later did all that SF cover art. He also did some lovely Star Trek paintings and had the theory that, given what can happen if you try to use a projectile weapon in a pressurised space, swords and such might come back for fighting in space - and painted accordingly.

Don't you just love what Kelly Freas  does with Trek art?
That notion stuck in my head and I even played with it in one space opera I wrote.
A Kelly Freas cover
  The books were barely past the pulp fiction era and the paper and glue almost as bad as that used for pulp books and magazines, but it was an exciting time. Murray's talk was well-researched and seeing all those covers on screen reminded me why I love science fiction more than any other genre.

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