Friday 7 July 2017

Some Science Fiction Books Bought Near Brighton Station

Just outside Brighton Station, round and down and through the tunnel at the top of Trafalgar Street, there is, on days when the weather is clement, a pavement book stall. I walk past it every fortnight or so (having got the train over from Lewes), usually on a Wednesday on my way to Dave's Comics on Sydney Street. It's rare that I don't take at least a cursory glance at the books on its three or four tables – a mixture of mostly recognisable fiction and non-fiction, for the most part paperbacks, some hardbacks, along with kids' annuals and picture books (and even some DVDs) – but in all the years I've been trotting past I can't recall ever having actually bought anything. Until last month, when I spotted a small box full of science fiction – mainly paperbacks, one or two hardbacks. Given my Damascene rediscovery of SF earlier in the year, I reasoned it would be remiss of me not to stop and have a proper rummage, and after a few minutes came up with four paperbacks I liked the look of. Then the guy manning the stall – not the regular guy, it should be noted – advised me that it was three books for a fiver, so naturally I added a couple more, to wind up with this little lot – largely space opera, all first printings, one a hardback:

Top row, left to right: Born Under Mars by John Brunner, published by Ace (US) in 1967, cover by John Schoenherr; The Infinitive of Go, also by John Brunner, published by Magnum in 1981, cover by Chris Moore; Finches of Mars by Brian Aldiss, published in hardback by The Friday Project in 2013, cover design by Ifan Bates. Bottom row, left to right: Titan by John Varley, published by Futura/Orbit in 1979, cover by Peter Andrew Jones (with interior illustrations by Freff); Kinsman by Ben Bova, published by Future/Orbit in 1979, cover by Colin Hay; Capella's Golden Eyes by Christopher Evans, published by Granada in 1982, cover by Peter Gudynas.

I was especially pleased with the Varley and the Evans – Varley is an author I'm very interested in right now, while Evans is a name I'm unfamiliar with but who comes recommended by Christopher Priest – but they all look promising, and together constitute quite a nice little score, all the more so for being so unexpected. The temporary stall-holder told me the books were his rather than the regular proprietor's and that he had more science fiction in storage, which he would dig out and bring along on a day I would be likely to be passing, if the weather was clement. I've been by the stall a couple of times since – on clement days – but as yet no luck. I live in hope.