While traveling, Jean has a pretty hard time resisting flea markets, and some years ago, we stopped at one that gave me a particular amount of trouble. I prefer to avoid them since my common sense abandons me and I end up with odd things I end up wondering “what was I thinking?” In any case, I emerged with 2 shopping bags full of trashy science fiction from the fifties, sixties and seventies, including a bunch of Ace doubles. Ace doubles each generally had two novellas, which were printed from both ends of the book, meeting in the middle. So each book had two lurid covers, with each side of the book being the front, the two books being upside down relative to each other. Am I making sense? I’m told that in book circles, this is referred to as “tête-bêche”, from the French, “head to toe”.
In any case, it was a lovable gimmick for Ace books, and there is some wonderful stuff in these things. So I have two of the large paper shopping bags with the string handles full of these things, and I get a funny look from some other guy who was also dragged in by his wife. “It’s my retirement plan”, I say.
Well, this has nothing to do with Ace doubles, but I’ve been enjoying a 1965 Jack Vance novel from the retirement collection called “Space Opera”. It would make a funny movie, set in a fifties sci-fi future with a Margaret Dumont character who wants to bring opera to alien races. Vance has a gift for inventing cultures and the attitudes that go with them, so of course nothing goes as expected.
One of the previous owners of the book used the flyleaf to make out a budget. Maybe I’m more interested in budgets now that I don’t have a paycheck. It lists Lazarus, a Columbus department store that was destroyed by Federated, but is still a household name in central Ohio. The list is a weird juxtaposition of 1965 reality with a nutty alien vision. We have expenses for all the expected categories, including church and haircuts. But I don’t see anything for, um, trashy science fiction…