Yesterday’s Future — With Added Angst!

There’s a special discussion board on the Internet for people who want their pictures drawn — for free, of course.  Post a photo there, and someone just might draw you, and then post their work back for you to see.

Someone like my wife Rhumba.  But you might not get what you expect.

“They were trying to look cool,” Rhumba told me. She passed her tablet over.  “They” certainly were trying: a bearded man and a pouty woman. Rhumba had placed a flying saucer above them in the middle background; it disrupted their cool factor somewhat. She likes to add flying saucers.

“You know,” I said, “and don’t take offense, but this looks just like the cover of a cheap science fiction paperback from the early ’60s. I mean that in a good way.” I’d read a ton of them.

Rhumba readily agreed; she read them, too.  We’re both retired science fiction fans from wasted youths.

“Well, I could make it into something like that.” Rhumba will do about anything.  The rules of the discussion board state that the artist can go in any direction that they want with the photos, save the sexual.   She takes full advantage.

“We could call it — “Beats in Space,” I said.

We discussed it; then I went to bed while Rhumba started playing around.  And when I got up the next morning:

Beats in Space

“Bob Ellison” is a portmanteau of the names “Robert Silverberg” and “Harlan Ellison,” two prolific sci-fi writers of the time who wrote piles of schlock to pay the the bills before they became Big Name Sci-Fi Writers in the mid/late ’60s.

Either one of them could have written “Beats in Space,” except that 1) Silverberg’s version would have been porn, and 2) in Ellison’s version the woman would betray the guy with the beard, and they’d all smoke marijuana.

We have no idea how the photo subjects feel about this. They’ve been curiously silent.

5 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Future — With Added Angst!

  1. lk

    That clover logo Rhumba chose for her imaginary publisher is almost identical to a logo that a ’60s-era soft-core porn publisher called Midwood used. So it’s somewhat appropriate, tho I don’t know whether Silverberg or Ellison ever wrote for that publisher. Unlike Beacon (another soft-core publisher), I’m pretty sure Midwood never dabbled in sci-fi porn. The young couple in the portrait may or may not appreciate all that. Just sayin’…

    1. admin Post author

      It’s meant to be an Ace parody: Ace/Deuce. Rhumba tells me that the symbol is the Deuce of Clubs. Much of Silverberg’s early work went to Ace in reprint (and re-re-re-reprint), and Ellison had at least one double all to himself. Wasn’t really meaning to imply that it had to be a porn novel, except for joking about Silverberg’s way of paying the bills at one point.

      I doubt that anybody but the likes of you or me would understand, much less remember, the fine points. 🙂

      1. lk

        There is a company reprinting Ace Doubles, or at least Ace-like Doubles, called “Armchair Library”. In most cases they seem to be using the original cover art. The reprints aren’t all from Ace tho. I recognized a couple of Rog Phillips titles that were published by Century. Anyway, Armchair Library has a few hundred sci-fi/fantasy titles out and is also reissuing old pulp mystery fiction in the same format. They’re not especially cheap – I think they go for $10 to $12 each.

        1. admin Post author

          Rhumba showed me some of those online. It looks like they couldn’t always get rights to both halves of a double, so just pulled in a Rog Phillips or Kevin Bulmer — both writers who’d been in doubles anyway — to fill the vacancy. So it works thematically, if you want to call it that.


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