Saturday 23 April 2011

Doctor Who and the Target Novelisations, by Nicholas Jones

In many ways, Doctor Who is to blame for the existence of this blog.

When I was a kid, I loved Doctor Who. Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, was my Doctor. I literally cowered behind the sofa at his adventures. Stories like Revenge of the Cybermen (1975; cybermats!), Terror of the Zygons (also 1975; the Loch Ness Monster!) and The Brain of Morbius (1976; what the fuck is that thing?!) scared the living shit out of me. I vividly recall peeping out (very occasionally) from behind the settee at all of those serials, completely and utterly terrified out of my tiny mind.

Or at least, I think I recall that. Because I also vividly recall watching Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor serial The Green Death, wherein luminous pollutants from a chemical plant mutate insects to monstrous sizes. Even now I can still clearly visualize that glowing green ooze in the Welsh mine; those awful, disgusting, slick, pale, outsize maggots; and finally that huge, terrifying fly, attacking the Doctor... Except The Green Death was broadcast in 1973, when I was just three years old. There were no video recorders around then and I've certainly never bought and watched it on video or DVD since, or caught a repeat of it on telly. So how can I possibly remember it so distinctly...?

I followed Doctor Who throughout the Tom Baker years and into the Peter Davison ones, and then I did what a lot of young fans of the show did: I grew up and drifted away. I didn't watch many of the Sixth or Seventh Doctors' adventures, and though I did catch the 1996 Eighth Doctor TV movie, I didn't think much of it (and neither, for that matter, did anyone else). And the rest of the time, I pretty much forgot about Doctor Who.

And then in 2005 the series came back, revitalized by Russell T. Davies, and it was brilliant. My passion for the show was rekindled; I remembered how much I loved it as a kid, and fell in love with it all over again. Christopher Eccleston was great as the Ninth Doctor; David Tennant was even better as the Tenth. And now we have Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, about to begin his second series under the guiding hand of Steven Moffatt this very evening. (Which is both incredibly exciting and incredibly sad, coming, as it does, so soon after the deaths of both Lis Sladen – Sarah Jane Smith – and Nicholas Courtney – the Brigadier.)

The return of Doctor Who to television in 2005 prompted me to start buying Doctor Who Magazine – something I don't believe I'd done since its days as Doctor Who Weekly in the late-'70s – within the pages of which I caught up on what Who fandom had been up to over the past twenty or so years. And via its features on past episodes, I also began exploring the history of the show itself... except, here again, often I'd find I had a level of familiarity with serials I couldn't possibly have watched: First and Second Doctor adventures from the 1960s, with William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton up against Daleks and Cybermen and Ice Warriors and Yeti. I hadn't been born when these stories were transmitted – so how did I know some of them so well?

The answer came when I moved down from London to the Sussex town of Lewes in 2008. The move coincided with a rediscovery of novels and fiction – after years of only reading nonfiction – and a consequent and concurrent interest in collecting first editions. Serendipitously, Lewes was unusually blessed with secondhand bookshops, which further fuelled the flames. And it was whilst familiarizing myself with the town's various bookshops that I came across a selection of the Doctor Who novelisations published by Target in the 1970s. The recognition was instant. Their covers were like old friends I hadn't seen in ages: images of Tom Baker and giant robots, Zygons and other aliens I could place but not name; authors like Ian Marter, Malcolm Hulke and most of all Terrance Dicks. I knew these books, and by extension I knew the serials they had adapted, even if I hadn't necessarily watched them back in the '70s. I knew them because I'd read the Target novelisations.

I've always been a voracious reader. As a child I'd spend long hours in my local library, devouring anything science fictional or fantastical I could get my hands on: I didn't care who the author was – and can't remember now any of the writers of these books – so long as they had spaceships or time travel or monsters in them. But the books I loved above all others were the Doctor Who novelisations. Sometimes these would be the W.H. Allen hardbacks, but more often they'd be well-thumbed Target paperbacks, with their cover illustrations by Chris Achilleos and Mike Little and Jeff Cummins and others.

I read every single Doctor Who novelisation Beckenham Library had on its shelves, often repeatedly. Some of the adventures were familiar from television; most I'd never encountered before: it's clear to me now that my "memories" of the Pertwee serial The Green Death come entirely from the Malcolm Hulke Target adaptation. A few of them featured Doctors I barely recognised: a short, jester-like Doctor with a shock of black hair; a Doctor who was more akin to a grandfather than the dynamic swirling-scarfed incarnation I was accustomed to.

After a while I started noticing the names of the authors of these short novels, and then determining which of those authors I preferred (Terrance Dicks was by far my favourite). What I was doing, without really knowing it, was developing critical faculties. This was the first flowering of my sense of the worthwhile versus the worthless, of a recognition of excellence over excrement (although I hasten to add none of the Who novels fell too far into the latter categories) – faculties which would eventually lead to my becoming a music journalist and then take me into publishing; faculties which would result in the blog you're reading right now.

Because while for many fans of a certain age, the Target novelisations are important for the way they preserved the show in an era before video recorders and DVDs and the internet – and indeed preserved some Doctor Who serials that have otherwise been wiped from the BBC archives – or provided additional background elements or details lifted straight from the original scripts (character surnames, thought processes, etc.), for me they're important for different reasons. The Target Doctor Who books were what first got me hooked on novels all those years ago. But more than that, reading the Target novelisations back then, I learned to appreciate some of their authors' talents more than others, and followed the writers I liked the most, thus triggering a lifelong interest in serialised writing – fiction, nonfiction, novels, TV, comics, columns, diaries – and writers of serials.

So it was entirely fitting that when I moved down to Lewes three years ago, and with my at-the-time newly rediscovered passion for books and book collecting gathering pace, the first novels I purchased in a Lewes secondhand bookshop were Target Doctor Who paperbacks. You can see some of them scattered about this very post. It was those books, and countless others like them, that first made me a confirmed book lover. It was those books that eventually turned me into a bibliophile. And so it was those books that were at least partly responsible for my finding a focus for Existential Ennui. Ultimately, then, if it wasn't for Doctor Who – or rather, if it wasn't for the Doctor Who novelisations – you wouldn't be reading this blog.

Of course, whether that's a good or bad thing is open to debate. Something to ponder, perhaps, as we all tune in tonight at 6pm for the new series... Incidentally, there is an entire book about the Target books – called, in fact, The Target Book, published by Telos in 2007. And all being well I'll be returning to that sometime down the line...

Friday 22 April 2011

Michael Kane: A Warrior of Mars Trilogy by Michael Moorcock (New English Library Paperbacks, 1971, Richard Clifton-Dey Cover Art): Lewes Book Bargains

For this final post in this series on a load of Michael Moorcock paperbacks I bought in the Lewes branch of Oxfam a few months back, we have these:

Left to right are City of the Beast, Lord of the Spiders and Masters of the Pit, all published in paperback by New English Library in 1971 (all three are first printings). Together they comprise the Martian or Warrior of Mars trilogy, and all feature twentieth-century scientist Michael Kane, who finds himself transported to ancient Mars and has to battle all manner of vile beasties. The novels were initially published under the pseudonym Edward P. Bradbury by Compact in, I think, 1965 (I'm a little unsure about that date because the third volume, Masters of the Pit, has a copyright on 1969 inside the book); Masters of the Pit was also originally titled Barbarians of Mars. So they are among Moorcock's earliest novels.

And we can end this run of Moorcock posts on a high note, because unlike yesterday's Elric post – where I was struggling to identify the various cover artists – here, having scoured the internet, I believe I've positively identified the man who painted all three of the NEL covers: Richard Clifton-Dey, a British book cover artist who was a contemporary of the likes of Chris Foss and Jim Burns. Clifton-Dey's Wikipedia entry doesn't list the three NEL Mars paperbacks as being by him, but during my research I chanced upon this thread on the Vault of Evil messageboard, which shows other examples of Clifton-Dey's work and reprints a list of his covers from The Paperback Fanatic #9. And as it 'appens I own a copy of another paperback Clifton-Dey illustrated the cover for: the 1976 Panther edition of J. G. Ballard's Concrete Islandbought in Kim's Bookshop, Arundel, reviewed here, and seen just above on the right there. Definitely the work of the same man as illustrated Moorcock's Martian trilogy, I reckon.

Anyway, that's yer lot for Moorcock, but all being well I'll have another SF-themed post up tomorrow, to celebrate the return of a much-loved British science fiction show to our TV screens: Doctor Who...

Thursday 21 April 2011

Elric Novels by Michael Moorcock (New English Library, Arrow, Mayflower Paperbacks): Lewes Book Bargains

Next in this series of posts on the stack of Michael Moorcock books I got in the Lewes branch of charity shop Oxfam, we turn to arguably Moorcock's most famous creation: Elric, the albino warrior sorcerer. The Lewes Oxfam had three Elric novels, all paperbacks, each from a different publisher. Let's have a look at these two first:

On the left is The Sleeping Sorceress, published by New English Library in the UK in 1972 (a first printing, and indeed, as the copyright page notes, "An NEL Original"), and on the right is Elric of Melniboné, published by Arrow in the UK in 1973 (again, a first printing, although the novel was originally published by Hutchinson in 1972). As with most of Moorcock's characters, Elric's history is somewhat labyrinthine, but I believe Elric of Melniboné predates The Sleeping Sorceress chronologically, even though it was published after it (at least, I think it was). And rather than me witter on in an uninformed manner about the plots of the novels, I'd suggest you take a gander at the back covers if you're interested to know what they're all about.

Neither cover illustration is credited in the books, but there is a signature on the rather fine The Sleeping Sorceress picture. Unfortunately, it could be read as either Jan Parker or Ian Parker, and there's seemingly no agreement online as to which it is. I'm leaning towards Jan Parker myself, possibly this Jan Parker, who was an illustrator around this period, and who these days paints abstract pictures. Meanwhile there's not even a signature on the Elric of Melniboné cover to help me out, so I haven't the foggiest who illustrated it, although it is a nice piece of pop art-style collage. And I'm also unsure who was the cover artist on the other Elric paperback I picked up in Oxfam:

The Stealer of Souls, published in paperback by Mayflower in 1968 (this copy is the first reprint from 1969; the book was originally published in the UK by Neville Spearman in 1963). Clearly it's the same artist who created the covers for two of the Moorcock paperbacks I blogged about at the start of this series of posts, 1969's The Jewel in the Skull and The Runestaff:

But I still don't know whether that artist is either the best-known Moorcock cover painter from this period, Bob Haberfield, or some other, as-yet-unidentified artist. As to what the book's all about, The Stealer of Souls is in fact a collection of Elric short stories that originally appeared in Science Fantasy magazine from 1961-62; in the Acknowledgements at the front of the book Moorcock notes "the encouragement and help given me when writing them by John Carnell, the Editor".

And that leaves us with just one more post to come now in this series, which will feature three of Moorcock's earliest novels (in slightly later New English Library editions): the A Warrior of Mars trilogy...

Wednesday 20 April 2011

The Books of Corum: The Swords Trilogy by Michael Moorcock (Mayflower Paperbacks, Bob Haberfield Cover Art): Lewes Book Bargains

Your cup runneth over, o gentle reader, because today you get not one but two posts in this series on the job lot of '60s and '70s Michael Moorcock paperbacks I picked up in the Lewes branch of charity shop Oxfam a couple of months back. And this second post of the day marks the (almost) final selection of Mayflower paperbacks, namely these:

Left to right we have The Knight of the Swords, published in paperback by Mayflower in the UK in 1971 (the copy seen above is the reprint from 1972); The Queen of the Swords, also published in paperback by Mayflower in 1971 (a first edition in this instance); and The King of the Swords, this time published by Mayflower in 1972 (again, mine is a first edition). And unlike the previous post, where I was missing one of the books in the Chronicles of Castle Brass trilogy, here I have all three books in this particular trilogy. Well, kind of. Because these three form The Swords Trilogy, which is only the first half of the six-volume Books of Corum series – which focus on Corum Jhaelen Irsei of the Vadhagh Folk, also known as the Prince in the Scarlet Robe – the second half being The Chronicles of Corum. Although Corum is also an aspect of Moorcock's larger Eternal Champion concept.

Still keeping up at the back? I've said it before, but by crikey Moorcock's bibliography is convoluted. And his output was prodigious, too: the novels I'm covering in these posts all hail from around the same late-1960s/early-1970s period, so he must've really been cranking the buggers out. According to Hari Kunzru's recent interview with the author in The Guardian, around this time Moorcock could produce 15,000 words in a single day, which is an astonishing work rate. Mind you, I've managed to bang out two posts in one day today, so I can sympathize...

The colourful covers of these three Corum novels were all painted by Bob Haberfield, displaying the Eastern influences he was known for in his Mayflower covers. But I've only got one more Mayflower paperback left to showcase in this series, because the next couple of posts will largely feature New English Library editions of Moorcock's novels, although the covers to those are at least as glorious as Haberfield's ones...

The Chronicles of Castle Brass Trilogy by Michael Moorcock (Mayflower Paperbacks, Bob Haberfield Cover Art): Lewes Book Bargains

Next in this series of posts on a bunch of Michael Moorcock '60s and '70s Mayflower and New English Library paperbacks I picked up in the Lewes branch of charity shop Oxfam fairly recently, we have these:

Count Brass and The Champion of Garathorm were both published in paperback in the UK by Mayflower in 1973 (the ones you can see here are both first printings). They are, respectively, volumes one and two of the series The Chronicles of Castle Brass... and once again, similarly to yesterday's post on The History of the Runestaff series – and as you've doubtless guessed from this post's title – I'm missing a volume. Because the series is actually a trilogy, and the Lewes Oxfam didn't have the third volume, 1975's The Quest for Tanelorn. Rats. Thanks to the miracle that is the internet, however, I can at least show you the front cover of the third volume, which is to the right there.

The Chronicles of Castle Brass trilogy stars Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion, Dorian Hawkmoon, and is a direct sequel to The History of the Runestaff. But as Moorcock points out in "A Note to the Reader" in the second book, The Champion of Garathorm, that volume is also a sequel to the second book in the 1970 Eternal Champion series, Phoenix in Obsidian. What was that I said yesterday about Moorcock's bibliography being complicated...?

One thing that isn't complicated, unlike in yesterday's post, is the question of who illustrated the covers of these Mayflower paperbacks, because these ones were definitely all done by Bob Haberfield. According to the short bio on his website, Haberfield's book cover paintings "were influenced by Eastern art, religion and culture", an influence you can clearly discern in these covers. But it's even more apparent in the covers I'll be showing in the next post...

Tuesday 19 April 2011

The History of the Runestaff Quartet by Michael Moorcock (Mayflower Paperbacks): Lewes Book Bargains

Following on from yesterday's review of Donald E. Westlake's pseudonymous 1967 Ace science fiction paperback Anarchaos, for the rest of this week I'll be blogging about a bunch more '60s and '70s SF and fantasy paperbacks. These books, however, were all written by celebrated British author Michael Moorcock, and were all bought as a job lot in February (that's how behind on blogging about my book acquisitions I am) from the Lewes branch of charity shop Oxfam – hence the "Lewes Book Bargains" in the title – at the same time as I nabbed those James Blish Cities in Flight hardbacks. The nice lady behind the till at Oxfam informed me at the time that they'd only recently arrived as a single donated collection, so as well as the Blish books I grabbed all of the Moorcock ones, which I think comprised the lion's share of the collection. (I left some Robert Heinleins and Philip Jose Farmers behind; I think they're still on the shelf if you want 'em.)

I bought the Michael Moorcock paperbacks for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Moorcock had been on my mind as he'd recently written a brilliant foreword to a book about Alan Moore I'd been editing at work (Alan Moore: Storyteller, available soon, folks). I've never read any of Moorcock's novels, but had always meant to, and so here was the perfect opportunity. But around the same time The Guardian newspaper ran an excellent interview with Moorcock by Hari Kunzru, illustrated with some of Bob Haberfield's wonderfully trippy covers for the Mayflower paperback editions of Moorcock's novels, and quite by chance it was the Mayflower paperbacks that the Lewes Oxfam had for sale. So over the coming days, I'll be showcasing them in a series of posts, beginning with these:

From left to right we have The Jewel in the Skull, published in paperback by Mayflower in 1969 (this copy is the second printing from 1972); The Sword of the Dawn, again published in paperback by Mayflower in 1969 (my copy is the third printing from 1972); and The Runestaff, once again published by Mayflower in 1969 (and again, my copy's a reprint, the first reprint from 1969). Together, they form the series The History of the Runestaff. Or rather, they almost do. You might have noticed I identified these books in the post title as a quartet. That's because there are four books in the series... and as you can see, I only have three – volumes one, three and four, to be precise. Which is a bit of a bugger, but I'm sure if I keep my eyes open I'll stumble upon volume two, The Mad God's Amulet, the cover to which you can see on the right there.

The novels were all published straight to paperback in the UK by Mayflower, but the first three in fact debuted in the States earlier than the British editions, published by Lancer from 1967-68. A couple of them also went under different titles: The Mad God's Amulet was titled Sorcerer's Amulet, while The Runestaff was titled The Secret of the Runestaff. Which only serves to further complicate Moorcock's already legendarily complicated bibliography.

I mentioned cover artist Bob Haberfield up top, who illustrated many of the Mayflower paperback covers for Moorcock's novels around this period. But on reflection, I'm not entirely convinced the covers of my three copies were illustrated by Haberfield. Certainly The Sword of the Dawn is by him; there's an image of that one on his website. But the other two? I'm not so sure. Haberfield did provide the cover for a later printing of The Jewel in the Skull, and for the 1973 third printing of The Runestaff, but the earlier printings seen above are markedly different in style to the rest of his work. So who illustrated them? If you know the answer to that, the comments section awaits...

I shan't attempt to summarize the novels, as their back covers already do a creditable job of that. But I will mention that they focus on Dorian Hawkmoon – and Hawkmoon also features in the next set of Moorcock novels I'll be blogging about (although again, annoyingly I'm missing one of the set). And those definitely boast Bob Haberfield covers...

Monday 18 April 2011

Review: Anarchaos by Curt Clark, a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake (Ace Books, 1967); Plus "Lost" Novel The Comedy is Finished Cover

Thus far, 2011 has proved to be remarkably Donald E. Westlake-light on this 'ere blog, something that 2010 certainly wasn't. Fear not, though, gentle reader: I can promise plenty of Westlake goodness over the course of the rest of the year, as I'll be making a return to my Parker Progress Reports (which, for the uninitiated, is an ongoing series of reviews of Westlake's – written, of course, under the alias Richard Stark – Parker novels; the last one I posted was in January, on the fifteenth Parker novel, 1972's Plunder Squad) and I'll have all manner of Westlake Scores to boast about.

As it 'appens, many of those will be of a science fiction bent. For while it's true that Anarchaos, the pseudonymous futuristic 1967 novel I'm reviewing today (as promised in yesterday's final Ross Thomas post), was Westlake's only full-length SF work, he did write numerous short science fiction stories, which appeared in SF magazines like Galaxy, Amazing Stories and Fantasy and Science Fiction in the '50s and '60s. Some of those were collected – along with Anarchaos – in the 1989 compendium Tomorrow's Crimes, but by no means all of them. And as luck would have it, I've recently managed to secure a good selection of the SF mags in which those stories appear (along with a couple of other fab non-Westlake featuring titles), so look out for posts on those in the near future.

Not this week, however. This week's posts will have a SF and fantasy slant, but they'll largely be about British author Michael Moorcock rather than Donald Westlake, as I've got a bunch of Lewes Book Bargains to catch up on, namely some groovy '60s and '70s Mayflower and New English Library paperbacks of Moorcock's novels. Before we get to those, however, and as a tease for further Westlake SF stuff down the line, let's have a look at Anarchaos.

It's been remarked elsewhere that Anarchaos is like a Parker novel in space, and it's true that the novel does sit on the hard-boiled side of Westlake's ledger rather than the comedy caper side. But that's about as far as you could take the comparisons between Anarchaos and a Parker. For one thing, Anarchaos is written in the first person rather than the Parker novels' more chilly and removed third person; we experience events through the eyes of the novel's antihero, Rolf Malone, as he travels to the distant eponymous colony planet to find out how his brother, Gar, came to be killed. For another, Anarchaos is at root a tale of vengeance, a theme that does play into the Parker novels – especially the first one, 1962's The Hunter – but which is rarely the driving force for a whole book, as it is, rather wearyingly, in Anarchaos.

But the major difference between Parker and Malone is Malone is even more of a cold-hearted bastard than the legendarily emotionless Parker. Malone merrily massacres his way across the face of the titular planet and the book, offing a taxi driver near the start and then racking up murders with gay abandon. At least Parker only kills when it's absolutely necessary; Malone seemingly does it on a whim. The net result is it's hard to conjure any sympathy for the git; I'm as wary as the next man of falling into the trap of wanting characters in novels to be sympathetic, but if an otherwise heartless swine displays at least some appealing attributes – a sense of humour, say, or at least a relatable purpose – it makes the whole thing so much more digestible. No such luck with Rolf Malone.

Even Westlake doesn't appear to like Malone very much. During the course of the story he variously consigns Rolf to years of slavery, lops off one of his hands, and turns him into a drooling zombie pleading to be mind-wiped. At every misfortune Malone encounters, it appears fleetingly as if he might mend his ways. But ultimately he reemerges unchanged each time, ready to begin his murdering anew, a confirmed sociopath bereft of anything in the way of character development.

Perhaps it's the population of Anarchaos (entirely human, I should point out; thankfully there are no aliens in the novel) that Westlake really loathes. They certainly cop for it throughout, although as with Rolf they're a deeply unpleasant lot. Malone narrates the genesis of the distant colony at the start of the book, explaining it was set up eighty-seven years ago according to the principles of 19th century Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, intended to be a utopia where men could decide their own fates free from the yolk of Union Commission tyranny. "The first generation on Anarchaos, in fact, didn't do too badly at all," offers Malone, but then the corporations moved in in search of profit and minerals, turning the place into "the longest-running planet-wide madhouse in the history of the human race."

Indeed it's the planet itself which proves the most interesting element of the novel, something you get the impression Westlake felt too. Circling a swollen red sun named Hell, half of Anarchaos rests in daylight while the other is in perpetual night, making habitation possible only on "a narrow band north and south along the sunward face". Westlake does well describing this nightmarish place, with its endless barren plains and snowbound nether regions, its cities dominated by corporate towers but consisting largely of shantytowns. Despite – or perhaps because of – its desolation it's a strangely beguiling backdrop to Malone's hunt for his brother's killer, and in the end proves to be a major causal factor in Gar's death. To which Malone's (very final) solution is both entirely in keeping with his murderous nature and, in a way, quite fitting.

Olman noted in his review last year that Anarchaos is really only for Westlake completists, and I'd go along with that. But considering that's almost certainly precisely the kind of person who'll be reading this review, I'd add that so long as you don't expect too much from the thing – and can bear to be in the company of the entirely disagreeable Rolf Malone for the duration – it's worth a read for Westlake's convincing evocation of a society destroyed by base profit-seeking motives – a theme that, for obvious reasons, still resonates today. Possibly even more so than it did when it was written.

(UPDATE, 18/4/11: Since we're on a Donald E. Westlake tip, might as well bung in a couple of Westlake-related newsy bits that have broken today. We'll skip daintily over the story – thanks for the heads-up, Adam – about Jason Statham, of all people – gah! – being slated to play Parker in a new movie adaptation, and move swiftly on to an update Shotsmag have just posted about the "lost" Westlake novel that Hard Case Crime are publishing next year in conjunction with my former employers Titan Books. Trent at Violent World of Parker's mentioned it before, but now we know it's called The Comedy is Finished, and is going to be published in hardback, only the second time Hard Case have issued a book in that format. Splendid news indeed! And you can see the terrific Gregory Manchess cover just above on the right there. Oh, and apparently my ceaseless blogging about hardback first editions had some small effect on the decision to publish the novel in hardback. Or so I'm told...)

Next up, some psychedelic post-apocalyptic fantasy, in the shape of Michael Moorcock's History of the Runestaff sequence of novels...

Sunday 17 April 2011

A Ross Thomas and Oliver Bleeck First Edition Cover Gallery: The UK Hamish Hamilton Novels

And so we reach the final post in this seemingly interminable series of, at least according to The Rap Sheet (the swine!), "gushing" missives on crime/espionage/political suspense author Ross Thomas. Shall we have a wee recap before we draw a line under it all? Why not. Here's what the week's comprised thus far:

• On Monday I showed off a very scarce 1968 UK Hodder & Stoughton first edition of Ross Thomas's second novel, The Seersucker Whipsaw;

• On Tuesday I showcased a 1969 UK Hodder first edition of Thomas's fourth novel, The Singapore Wink;

• On Wednesday I posted a review of Thomas's fifth novel (or maybe sixth, if you could the debut Bleeck novel, The Brass Go-Between), The Fools in Town Are on Our Side;

• And on Thursday I posted a gallery of all the Hodder & Stoughton Ross Thomas/Oliver Bleeck first edition covers;

• Friday saw two posts; in the first I showed off a 1974 Hamish Hamilton first edition of If You Can't Be Good;

• And in the second I detoured slightly from Ross Thomas to announce my British Library news, although that post did still have an ace picture of my Ross Thomas collection;

• Finally, yesterday I showcased a 1981 Hamilton first edition of The Mordida Man.

Which brings us back to today's post, which is another cover gallery, this time of the first editions of the eleven Ross Thomas/Oliver Bleeck novels published by Hamish Hamiltion in the UK. Before we crack on with that, though, a quick word about next week's posts, which will be of a more science fiction and fantasy bent, and will largely consist of lots of Bob Haberfield's fab psychedelic covers to the 1960s and '70s Mayflower paperback editions of Michael Moorcock's novels. The week will begin, however, with a return to Donald E. Westlake, specifically a review of his only full-length science fiction novel, 1967's Anarchaos. Should have that up on Monday.

Right then. Time to send Ross Thomas Week, Mark III off in style with those Hamish Hamilton first edition covers (with, as with the Hodder & Stoughton gallery, US pub dates, cover credits and links back to previous posts). Bask in their glory!

If You Can't Be Good, Hamish Hamilton, 1974 (US William Morrow, 1973); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

The Porkchoppers, Hamish Hamiltion, 1974 (US William Morrow, 1972; NB: The Porkchoppers preceded If You Can't Be Good in the US, but not in the UK); dustjacket designed by Bernard Higton.

The Highbinders by Oliver Bleeck (Ross Thomas), Hamish Hamilton, 1974 (US William Morrow, same year as British edition); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

The Money Harvest, Hamish Hamilton, 1975 (US William Morrow, same year as British edition); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

No Questions Asked by Oliver Bleeck (Ross Thomas), Hamish Hamilton, 1976 (US William Morrow, same year as British edition); dustjacket design by Ken Reilly.

Yellow-Dog Contract, Hamish Hamilton, 1977 (US William Morrow, 1976); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

Chinaman's Chance, Hamish Hamilton, 1978 (US Simon & Schuster, same year as British edition); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

The Eighth Dwarf, Hamish Hamilton, 1979 (US Simon & Schuster, same year as British edition); dustjacket photograph by Beverly Lebarrow (a.k.a. Beverley le Barrow, pseudonym for Beverley Goodway).

The Mordida Man, Hamish Hamilton, 1981 (US Simon & Schuster, same year as British edition); dustjacket designed by David Butler.

Missionary Stew, Hamish Hamilton, 1984 (US Simon & Schuster, 1983); dustjacket designed by Pat Doyle.

Briarpatch, Hamish Hamilton, 1985 (US Simon & Schuster, 1984); dustjacket designed by Pat Doyle.