Friday, December 14, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Odyssey in Space by Vektis Brack

Odyssey in SpaceThe Book of the Week is Odyssey in Space by Vektis Brack, published in digest format by British publisher Gannet Press in 1953.

Vektis Brack was a Gannet Press "house name," i.e., a pseudonym belonging to the publisher rather than the author, and used by various authors employed by that publisher. The actual author of Odyssey in Space is believed to be Leslie Humphrys, who also wrote science fiction under his own pseudonym of Bruno G. Condray. No word on whether Arthur C. Clarke ever came across Odyssey in Space before writing the similarly titled (but immeasurably superior) 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Book of the Week is rendered more valuable to collectors by the presence of a topless woman in the cover art by Gerald Facey, even if you need a magnifying glass to spot her.

Digest books -- oversized, loosely bound paperback books that look more like digest magazines than typical mass market paperbacks -- were much more popular in England in the 1950's than they ever were in the United States. British publishers commonly used the digest format for their science fiction lines in the 1950's. They were also partial to outrageous pseudonyms for their science fiction writers; other pseudonyms used by Gannet Press included Bengo Mistral and Drax Amper. Even the most prolific British SF writer of the day wrote most of his work under various absurd pen-names, one of which we will see next week.

No comments: