Not exactly teenage romance material.
While researching something else on the excellent Galactic Central website I noticed the above magazine cover. The John Brunner story pictured is new to me but more importantly the title given to it instantly goes into the WTF? File.
Let’s see, Brunner was born in September, 1934 and this issue of Two Complete Science-Adventure Books is dated Summer 1953. So, allowing for some time between when the story was written and when it was published I think we can assume Brunner was still in his teens when he wrote this. And let’s be frank, the title, the tag line, and the artwork all scream teenage boy to me.
To be fair to Brunner the actual story might be a totally innocuous exercise in action/adventure writing that the editor, Malcolm Reiss according to Galactic Central, decided to spice up a little. Either way it looks to me like Wing Publishing was very keen to appeal to the teenage boy market. When I look at the art for both stories pictured here my impression is that this cover includes everything Ian Fleming was about to use in his James Bond stories (the first of which, Casino Royale, was also published in 1953). And really, wouldn’t an intergalactic James Bond swanning about the star lanes have been even more fun then the Bond we ended up with?
Anyway, this just goes to show that nothing is new under the moons of Mars.
2 thoughts on “WTF? – John Brunner”
“The Wanton of Argus” (presumably the publisher’s choice of a title, not Young Brunner’s) has been reprinted a few times subsequently as THE SPACE-TIME JUGGLER, so you should be able to check it out to see how “naughty” it is — I suspect not very.
Certainly there were no sexual references in Brunner’s even earlier novel GALACTIC STORM (as by “Gil Hunt”), unless having a (male) United States Senator with the first name of “Honey” counts (but I’d say that’s more Weird than Erotic, though Honey’s presumptive U.S. Congressional colleague of the time, Joe McCarthy, might have had other opinions).
I doubt very much that teenage Brunner was confident enough to include anything too risque in a story intended for sale. The real story is almost certainly that the magazines editor at the time, Malcolm Reiss, decided to try and boost sales by including on this cover all the elements that would make James Bond such a hit. According to Galactic Central the magazine had a number of editors during its short history so I can see Malcom Reiss taking the magazine in a more ‘adult’ direction after he replaced Jerome Bixby. I assume it didn’t work because he was soon replaced by Katherine Daffron. None-the-less I find it amusing that the work of a teenage boy ended up in an issue that looks like it was the work of a teenage boy.
Oh, and given my subsequent post about Don Wollheim I do like the fact that this story went on to be half of an Ace Double. It seems awfully appropriate even if the title was changed to something less salacious.