Thursday, April 28, 2016

Swedish paperback cover for Edward Aarons

I found this book in a trash bin and decided I should at least salvage its illustrated cover.

The book, originally Assignment - Treason is the second one to come out in Edward S. Aarons' Assignment series that took its protagonist, Sam Durell all over the world. The books are at least serviceable, if nothing great to my mind. The Swedish edition came out in 1959 from Wennerbergs Förlag, translated into Swedish by Margareta Sahlström. The illustration is by Mitchell Hooks. It wasn't originally meant for this book. "Förräderi" means "treason" in English.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Battle Beyond the Stars

Science fiction can be pretty stupid at times, especially olded science fiction, the stuff with zap guns and space ships. But it can also be pretty entertaining, as proves the Roger Corman-produced Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) that I saw last night on a 35 mm film. I'd seen it before on television, but never on big screen.

At core, the film is indeed stupid: John Saxon plays a maniacal tyrant, who wants to destroy or enslave whole planets. One of the planets, Akir, wants to fight, and a young man is sent to find some hired guns to help them. Battle Beyond the Stars is a riff on The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven (with even one of the actors of the latter film, Robert Vaughn recreating his role as a lone gunman), but more essentially it's a Star Wars copy, with lesser space fights and less fictional mythology. The film races along fast, but the scenes are loosely jointed. The battle scenes are clumsy and a bit confusing at times.

But on the good side are many things: John Sayles' funny and clever script with lots of sexual innuendo that's largely missing from George Lucas' Star Wars, many nice actors in bit parts (Sam Jaffe, George Peppard, Vaughn), Sybil Danning in a goofy role as a female warrior, and good music from Howard Shore. Sayles' script shows his feminism also in the female computer of the hero's space ship, she's clearly an grumpy older lady who takes no shit from no one. Too bad she doesn't make it in the final battle.

Though nothing great, Battle Beyond the Stars was a good-humored film and I left the cinema grinning to myself. And oh, by the way, I thought I spotted Sayles playing one of the doll-like androids in Sam Jaffe's space station, but IMDb doesn't mention him.

Huge amount of links to other reviews on Todd Mason's blog here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sarah Weinman on Benjamin Black, Chandler and other literary brands

Just a sidenote: this article by Sarah Weinman is already two years old, but it caught my attention only just now, when I noticed Weinman post it on her Facebook page. It's a very intriguing piece, you should check it out. Lots of stuff I didn't know and also lots of stuff that piques my interest and fascination.

Friday, April 22, 2016

My book on Finnish Westerns

Sorry for the absence, folks. I've been working my ass off and writing my book on Finnish Westerns, but it's finally ready and being sent off to the printers. The book turned out pretty huge, clocking at 370 pages in its final version. You can see why I haven't been blogging - and not doing pretty much anything else either. This took me at least ten years from the first idea, and the actual writing took at least four years - but of course I did some other books in the interim.

I'm too tired at the moment to write more fully about the book and its contents, for now it's enough that I post the great cover by Timo Numminen. The book is out in May.

The book will be accompanied by an anthology I also compiled, with twenty or so Finnish Western short stories from the 1820s on up to this day. I'll post about it as well later.