Sometimes, a pulp cover misses the point. The above image of Galaxy Science Fiction (March 1956) is a classic example.
This particular issue featured “A Gun for a Dinosaur,” the legendary time travel story by L. Sprague de Camp. And while this cover doesn’t illustrate “Gun” at all, I’m of firm belief that the editors should have commissioned a cover painting for it.
The story is a matter-of-fact recounting of the life of a time-traveling big game hunting guide, wherein the author goes over the merits of what type of gun is best for shooting down a dino.
An elephant weighs — let’s see- four to six tons. You’re planning to shoot reptiles weighing two or three times as much as an elephant and with a much greater tenacity for life. That’s why the syndicate decided to take no more people dinosaur-hunting unless they could handle the .600. We learned the hard way, as you Americans say. There were some unfortunate incidents.— “A Gun for a Dinosaur”
While there’s an intricate plot to “Gun,” including the creation of a time paradox, the real meat of the story is the vivid descriptions of the best ways to shoot a dinosaur (Never in the head, always the heart), the horrors of field-dressing (It takes weeks and attracts a lot of big, nasty bugs) and hauling your trophy back to your time (Use mules to pull it back, and then leave the poor fellows there to get eaten).
While the original cover image obviously doesn’t illustrate that story, a 1977 anthology did use the “Gun” for its cover piece, as seen below.
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