Old Science Fiction

Some of the sci-fi books I read during my childhood had this great endpaper

Winston sci-fi endpapers

As a young reader I paid attention to the details of book design, because books were unfamiliar. They contained new worlds. Endpapers are one such design nicety.

The sci fi books in question had tantalizing endpapers. I desperately wanted to read the story that had a fleet of flying saucers leaving the Earth, or the guy walking deep undersea. I tried to imagine the book that had the robot lasering a city. I assumed that the one-eyed robot with octopus arms was in the same story, since both robots had only one eye, although I had no idea why a robot would be adjusting knobs. And what about the angry genius in the upper left corner?

Alas, none of those stories existed, certainly not in the Winston Science Fiction series whose books had those endpapers. Researching Marooned on Mars and Mission to the Moon led me to Thunderchild Publishing (whose website appears to have mostly disappeared), and from that to Wikipedia’s Winston Science Fiction series page. It turns out that the endpapers that so intrigued me in second and third grade appeared on fairly low-grade schlock.

Reading school library books in a small town well before internet search engines existed benefited me. I could easily believe that somewhere, some other library had a book where an enraged evil genius commanded a giant, cyclopean robot to level a city with a destructive ray beam.