Category Archives: Book cover design

Interview: James Herbert

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with my fascination with New English Library paperbacks of the 1970s, as well as my confoundment that no one has yet written a comprehensive history of the incredibly influential mass market publisher. The first of the pulp and popular fiction histories that I co-edited for PM Press, Girl Gangs Biker Boys and Real Cook Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, focused in some depth on NEL’s youthsploitation books (bikers and the skinhead and other paperbacks written by James Moffat aka Richard Allen), including re-published important material written by British critic Stewart Home. NEL was also included in my second PM Press book, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980. I’ve read bits and pieces on NEL, how they worked, their authors and their books around the place, mainly on-line, but there is nothing comprehensive I am aware of that has really pulled all this disparate information together and properly analysed the significant of NEL to 1970s British print culture.

Anyway, when award winning writer, author and horror historian Johnny Mains mentioned to me during an online discussion that he had an interview with one of NEL’s best known authors, James Herbert, that didn’t have a home, I was keen to provide one.Read more

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985 Kickstarter


I have written on this site before about the upcoming book I have coedited, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985, due for release in the US in October. For the next month of so leading up to this, the publisher, PM Press are running a pre-sale campaign for Dangerous Visions and New Worlds via Kickstarter. Other than allowing people to be the first to get their hands on the book this features various offers, including some great book packs and bonuses, even sci-fi pulp themed underpants! Due to US Postal Services rates being so high the Australians among you may want to wait until our Melbourne launch (date and venue TBC) or place an order via your local bookshop. More details when I have them.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign and the various offers as part of it at the link here.Read more

Pre-orders open for Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985

A heads up that my latest book, co-edited with my friend Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1980, is now available for order through PM Press site here. You can also order it through the various Amazon sites and through numerous other channels. Interestingly, the book is classified by Amazon US as pornography, as well as science fiction studies. I assume this is down to the fact it contains essays on sex in science fiction and gay science fiction, amongst other things. I’ve always harboured ambitions to be a smut peddler and this is the closest I may get.

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds details how science fiction interacted with and was inspired by the cultural and political changes associated with the era from the late 1950s through the early 1970s, a period that has sometimes been referred to as ‘the long sixties’. The book starts with progressive authors who rose to prominence in the conservative 1950s, challenging the so-called Golden Age of science fiction and its linear narratives of technological breakthroughs and space-conquering male heroes. It then moves to the 1960s, when writers shattered existing writing conventions and incorporated contemporary themes such as modern mass media culture, corporate control, growing state surveillance, the Vietnam War, and rising currents of counterculture, ecological awareness, feminism, sexual liberation, and Black Power.… Read more

Book Review: Jane Gaskell’s A Sweet, Sweet Summer

One of the authors I really wanted to include among those examined in the third book I have co-edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, was British writer, Jane Gaskell. In particular her novel, A Sweet, Sweet Summer, first published in hardback by Hodder and Stoughton in 1969. To be honest, as is so often the case, what first attracted me to finding out more about this title was the cover of the 1971 Sphere edition, with its uniquely early 1970s dystopian take on the female juvenile delinquent. It’s a wonderful piece of photographic paperback art, of the sort that the British did so well at the time, no doubt cheaply done (in all likelihood the model was one of the typists in the Sphere office), but very effective.

Plans to include Gaskell in Dangerous Visions and New Worlds were scuppered by the fact that I simply could not find a copy of A Sweet, Sweet Summer anywhere at a price that I could even remotely afford. The book is incredibly rare and has not been republished. Indeed, as I discovered when I posted an image of the cover above on Twitter – long after Dangerous Visions and New Worlds had been put to bed – I just was one of many bibliophiles who had been on the lookout for an affordable second-hand copy of this Gaskill book.… Read more

Video of my talk, The motorcycle – rebel in pop culture, now available

For those of you who were unable to attend my recent talk hosted by the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, ‘The Motorcycle: Rebel in Pop Culture’, there is now a video of the entire presentation on Youtube. The wonderful folks at QAGOMA have even done an Auslan interpretation of it for the vision impaired.

My talk will take you on a journey through the various representations of the motorcycle in youth and popular culture history, mainly in the United States, Australia and Great Britain. I examine what has given the motorbike its cool reputation and discuss how it has also functioned as a lightning rod for post war concerns around various youth subcultures. In addition to film, I also look at the representation of the motorbike in music and pulp fiction. You can also find it on YouTube here.… Read more