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Pulp Cover Friday Presents:  DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m engaged in a couple of long-term research projects on American science fiction of the 1950’s.  They’re progressing steadily, like glaciers, but recently I came across something that I thought I’d share with you-all this week.

There were three magazines in the 1950’s (some dating back to the 1940’s) that were reprint ‘zines  publishing what were regarded as classics in the field which dated from the teens to the forties:  FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, FANTASTIC NOVELS, and A. MERRITT’S FANTASY MAGAZINE.  Usually each issue presented a full length novel and as many shorts as could fit in.  These “novels” were actually usually really full length novels, not forty or fifty page novellas advertised as novels, but because they ran in a single issue were sometimes abridged.  This presents me with a dilemma when it comes to evaluating their quality.  Is it fair to the writer to consider abridgments which are usually inferior to the original versions?  My decision is, no, so what I try to do is run down original editions which present the story (usually but not always) as the author wanted.  In any case, I try to find the author’s preferred text when it comes to reviewing their work.  Not always easy to do, but then the scholar’s road is often weary.

So, I’ve been noodling around the interwebs in search of information on various editions and have discovered some interesting things, most of which are not germane to this post.  One of the guys I’ve been looking at is A(braham). Merritt, who, as noted above had a magazine named after him which featured his work.  Merritt was an immensely popular writer of the teens through forties who is largely forgotten today, but whose work did have something of a revival in the fifties and sixties, and still is published at irregular intervals.  I’ve read a couple of things by him, which I’ve generally liked, if I wasn’t exactly totally enthusiastic about, but this post isn’t actually about his writing.  The interesting thing I’ve noticed about him is that he has had some damn fine covers associated with his books.  They are colorful books, so he gives the artist every opportunity to go crazy, but still, he’s been rather lucky over the years (and decades).

I’m restricting this blog to covers for one of his novels, DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE, which I haven’t read yet.  But, from the look of these covers, I probably should.

First book edition, Liveright, 1932

Argosy serial, 1-23-32

Fantastic Novels, 4-41

Fantastic Novels, 9-49

Avon paperback, 1952

Paperback Library, 1965

Futura (UK), 1974

French pb, 1974

French pb, 1984

Collier, 1991

Which is your favorite?  I’d probably go with the FN 1941 Finlay cover, though the ARGOSY one is pretty wild.  Love the priest’s robe.

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