Saturday, January 25, 2014


Who? by Algis Budrys is one of those seminal science fiction novels, one of the many I have not yet read. It's a 1958 cold war yarn about a returned Western prisoner from behind the Iron Curtain who has been changed significantly with the addition of a mechanical arm and face, and who may in fact not be who he is reputed to be.

I picked up this handsome Lancer paperback the other day. And I got it not because of the story, but because of the completely awesome Frank Kelly Freas cover. It a stunner!

I first saw the artwork for this cover in the pages of Frank Kelly Freas - The Art of Science Fiction which I've owned for decades.

The image of the totally inscrutible metal-faced man casually smoking a cigarette while staring at the potential reader is a stunning painting.

The compelling Lancer paperback cover was originally conceived for an issue of Fantastic Universe in which the stort story version of Who? originally appeared. In fact it was this painting by Freas which Brudys claimed inspired the story when he glimpsed it in the Fantastic Universe offices. To read that original story go here.

And it's a pose he replicated to some extent when he rendered Harlan Ellison for this special issue of Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The Who? cover is one of those exotic sci-fi images which takes up permanent residence in your imagination, at least it has done in mine.

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  1. This is a fantastic novel, and well worth seeking out. It's extremely different from the short story! Although people may be expecting a tense spy thriller from the premise, it's much more of an adult psychological puzzle and biographical portrait.

    In 1973 it was made into a surprisingly faithful movie starring Joseph Bova as Martino and Elliott Gould as Rogers.

    1. You intrigue me. I won't read the Lancer book (too fragile) but I need to find a cheap non-collectible paperback and give it a go. Thanks.

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