Long ago when I first discovered the wonderful world of Golden Age science fiction through several anthologies edited by Groff Conklin, I became a big fan of Cyril Kornbluth. I quickly exhausted every story and novel he had written before his death in 1958, including his collaborations with Judith Merril under the pen name Cyril Judd. Or so I thought until perusing online galleries of paperbacks from 1961.
The little gem of a cover to the right had evaded me, if not the story inside. The story inside was previously published as Outpost Mars in 1952 and serialized the year before as Mars Child in the science fiction magazine Galaxy. Sin in Space (1961) was the last of a series of science fiction novels published by Beacon Books starting in 1959.
Beacon Books was mostly known for their sleazy sexploitive pocket-sized paperbacks with titillating cover art and taglines (“For a dame like this I’d sell out to Satan – but the devil was ahead of me in line!“) How Beacon got into the business of publishing science fiction is fairly straight forward, although the “why” of it is rather baffling. Galaxy magazine published a series of 35 science fiction novels gleaned from their serials as a giveaway for those who bought their magazine. When they were done, they sold the rights to Beacon. Someone at Beacon must have asked, “What the Hell are we going to do with these? We sell soft-core porn, not rocket stories!”
The answer was to spice up the titles, cover art, and (as a few readers have claimed) the stories themselves. The cover blurbs were also tailored to appeal to a certain demographic beyond the typical science fiction fan (“On a world older than time, built upon dope and vice, this was…SIN IN SPACE”) I haven’t gotten my hands on one of these treasures so I can’t comment on any changes to the actual prose. Having read many of the original stories, I can tell you there is little in them to specifically recommend to a fan of sleaze (Not making any judgements here; I’m a fan of sleaze, myself.)
I’ve managed to track down the cover images to a few more of these Beacon paperbacks and I present them now for your edification, education and titillation:
Odd John (1959) retained its original title from the 1952 Galaxy novel by Olaf Stapledon but the cover art and tagline are new.
“He had to be stopped, for all women were his playthings and all men his pawns.”
The Deviates (1959) was the Beacon title for Raymond F. Jones’ 1952 Galaxy novel, The Secret People.
“One man alone had any woman – every woman – in his power!”
Pagan Passions (1959) is a bit of a mystery to me since no Randall Garrett bibliography I’ve seen shows any collaboration with Larry Harris (Laurence M. Janifer) until 1962. Perhaps “adult Science Fiction at it’s best” wasn’t something you wanted on your resume in the early Sixties.
“Forced to make love to beautiful women!”
Virgin Planet (1960) by Poul Anderson retained its original title. Why would you change it?
“A world of beautiful women – and one man!”
The Sex War (1960) was originally titled The White Widows when it was published in Startling Stories and expanded into a novel by Galaxy in 1953.
“The silent war had just one aim – To wipe out all sex on Earth!”
A Woman a Day (1960) by Philip José Farmer had several different titles before Beacon got hold of it: Moth and Rust, The Day of Timestop and Timestop.
“He defied the 25th Century with a woman who was NOT HIS WIFE – and a wife who was NOT A WOMAN!”
The Mating Cry (1960) by A.E. van Vogt was originally titled The House that Stood Still and would see a post-Beacon printing under the title The Undercover Aliens.
“I have come to pay my debt – In a way I discovered men prefer.”
The Male Response (1961) claims to be an original Beacon novel by science fiction writer Brian Aldiss . Who am I to argue?
“Every Woman in the city was his.”