Rayguns and Rocketships

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Science fiction paperbacks exploded over the 1940s and '50s literary landscape with the force of an alien gamma bomb. The stories were often conceived around a pre-commissioned cover from an artist, and a title suggested by the publisher. Despite the punishing deadlines and poor pay, the books' cover artists managed to produce artworks of multihued, brain-bending brilliance, and collected here is some of the best of their output during an unparalleled period of brash optimism and opportunism in book publishing.