Feeling blue for the pulps

This pulp magazine cover for Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine immediately caught the collective eye of the Comics on the Brain staff because it reverses the typical color scheme you see on most pulp magazine covers.

Rather than putting the female character in eye-catching red, this one wears blue. Further flipping the common themes of the time, the background is a hot red. Most sci-fi cover paintings of the time would feature a darker color, often a star field.

And, just to further skew the conventions of the time, this cover features the men being tied up and the women in the position of captors — rather than captured.

Now sure, a dominant woman isn’t all that strange in pulp magazines — in fact 1 out 10 probably features a dame doing something mean to a man — but it seems quite clear that this cover artist purposely chose his colors, layout and characters just to say “I can be different.”

… And it certainly worked.

This particular issue of Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine was from July 1954 and headlined Poul Anderson’s “Teucan.” Secondardy stories were by Philip K. Dick and Algis Budrys.

According to Wikipedia, “Teucan” is part of Anderson’s “The Psychotechnic League” series, which starts off as an alternate history piece and then chronicles the rise of several civilizations  — and the dark ages in between each — within the solar system.

But the story inside that really intrigues us out of this list is a novelette called “Itco’s Strong Right Arm” by Gordon R. Dickson. What a great title! It’s the kind where you suspect that the title was created first and the story came later.

And it’s such a weird title. It makes you think in 50 directions at once … Is it about a baseball game in the future that ends in a pitching duel? Maybe Itco is a company? Or a second-in-command happy with his position in life? Is it about an arm-wrestling match? Is Itco a robot with a specialty appendage?

Who knows, but we’re intrigued.

Alas, the CotB staff can’t find it in a quick search of the internet except for the fact it was reprinted in a 1985 collection called “Invaders!”  (And you can read a brief review of that collection here.)

Itco! What are you Itco? Please let us know!


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