That Big Thing Back There

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 Horrorthon Posts

Another old paperback, sandwiched between some other sci-fi on a difficult-to-reach bookshelf. Check this out! (You really have to click to see the large version.) When I was ten or eleven years old (as near as I can remember), this book was the coolest thing in the world. What I did not realize at that time was that Ballantine Books was in the habit of recycling 1930s-1940s Hugo Gernsback back-catalog serial-magazine properties with new art by geniuses like Dean Ellis, undisputed master of “that big thing back there” and the painter of this particular gem of a cover. Of course their scheme worked and I bought this immediately. I was lucky in that this amazing image does actually relate to the 1933 story in the pages within (albeit in a very fanciful and inaccurate way). (Note also that the book costs $1.50.)

Looking at this, years later, I can see several problems with the painting—there are some serious scale and perspective issues, and the detailing is wildly uneven—but, far from detracting, they actually amplify Ellis’ pictorial skills. Look at that crazy sky!

ADDENDUM: I have to say something about that tag-line. “The thrill, the tremendous joy of awakening in a strange world of the future!” Then you look at the picture. “Um, pal, are you seeing what I’m seeing? Because I’m not sure where you’re getting this ‘tremendous joy’ you’re talking about.”