May 01

... I can put on a cover!Click for full image

Scott B’s Art Direction: For this cover I want a fantastical pink-purple-green eight-armed lobster-snake thing. But to bring it down to Earth I want you to paste in photographs of four human eyes. Because that won’t be incredibly creepy or anything.
Published 1969

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.87 out of 10)

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31 Responses to “Anything You Can Do…”

  1. THX 1138 Says:

    This sounds like a cue for a song! Alas, he has no mouth but he must sing. After the title track he could have offered us “Mama He’s Making Eyes at Me” or “You Need Hands”. But it was not to be.

  2. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Hands are still green. Didn’t cook ’em thoroughly.

    I feel like those are eyes clipped from an odalisque, but St. Google of the Internets isn’t helping me narrow down which one.

  3. Rachel J Says:

    So, is this “the finest science fiction novel” (a bold claim) or merely “the finest science fiction by Randall Garrett”?

  4. Herm Says:

    I like that we are told this is “the finest science-fiction novel”. Or do they mean “the finest science-fiction novel by Randall Garrett”? Because I find that a little easier to believe.

    And I can’t make the plot out from the blurb. Is the shipwrecked alien initially winning or losing against the planet? Is the planet Earth?

    Or are we building a superman to send to help a poor shipwrecked alien against the power of some other planet? Are we like ACME, with some alien doing the equivalent of a Looney Tunes character standing on a desert island and sending off an order form in a bottle?

    So many questions! Almost distracting me from the art! Not quite working!!!

  5. Herm Says:

    Rachel J – great minds think alike (and post a few seconds apart)…

  6. Phil Says:

    Snake-lobster thing s/he may be, but with the head shape of a fox. Judging from the creature’s (frontmost) right hand, s/he’s as fed up as we are.

  7. SI Says:

    I wonder if that is the alien… or earths superman! Those crazy geneticists!

  8. Dave Van Domelen Says:

    It’s been Gutenberg’ed if anyone wants to see what the plot actually means:

  9. Rachel J Says:

    Thanks, Dave. I haven’t got as far as the actual plot, yet, but I can now bring the surprising news that the cover is an almost entirely accurate depiction of the opening scene:

    “So he squatted there in his ship, a centipede-like thing about five feet
    in length and a little less than eighteen inches in diameter, with eight
    articulated limbs spaced in pairs along his body, each limb ending in a
    five-fingered manipulatory organ that could be used equally well as hand
    or foot. His head, which was long and snouted, displayed two pairs of
    violet eyes that kept a constant watch on the indicators and screens of
    the few instruments that were still functioning aboard the ship.”

  10. L.B. Says:

    I wonder if he can see for miles and miles….

  11. Michael Toland Says:

    Looks like this artist looked to Steve Ditko for inspiration.

  12. Rachel J Says:

    The plot: alien crash-lands on Earth and eats lots of people. The police are baffled. Years pass. Eventually, a scientist deduces that the alien is a civilised being operating according to his own breathtakingly complex alien psychology– which basically consists of “being a complete and utter moron”. Armed with this knowledge, the genetically-engineered superman confronts the alien and wins its trust by pretending to be equally moronic. They live happily ever after. The End.

    *Anything you can read, I can read faster* 😉

  13. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @Rachel: Accurate? Doubtful. Comprehensible? Possibly. I, for one, doubt space alien centipedes have bedroom eyes.

    Thank you for the plot summary. So the follow to the titular fragment is, ‘…I can do with eight five-fingered manipulatory organs that could be used equally well as hand or foot.’

  14. Rachel J Says:

    Oh, and I should have mentioned: he does have to box it first. *Very* important part of negotiating with alien lifeforms.

  15. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @Rachel: one other question. There seems to be a fart at the top of the cover. Are there such things to be found inside as well?

  16. Rachel J Says:

    @DSWBT. I *believe* that is meant to be some kind of leakage from from the alien’s ship. Though it could be anything, really.

  17. NGpm Says:

    The earlier editions (under the pen name Langart) had debatably better art.
    A couple of wee photos from around the net:

  18. fred Says:

    Is that a popcorn floor?

  19. A.R.Yngve Says:

    So he can hold eight objects at the same time… but he can’t paint a book cover to save his life.

  20. Smith Says:

    Is that a giant slice of Swiss cheese on the left hand side?

  21. Rachel J Says:

    Smith, I think it’s a control panel of some kind. Though it certainly *looks* like Swiss cheese.

    And now, the question on everyone’s lips: is this indeed “the finest science fiction novel”?

    On the whole, perhaps not. I’d say it’s fairly typical of mediocre sci-fi– that is, a rather silly, over-explained, would-be profound story drenched in technobabble and treated with *utmost seriousness* throughout– even in the alien-boxing scene. Quite entertaining, though.

  22. Yoss Says:

    The only way the text could be better is if it were treated to a couple asterisks.


    *by Randall Garrett

  23. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    The finest science fiction novel, with the finest science fiction cover painted using the finest hallucinogens money can buy.

    (The publishers liked this one better than the other version, where the nude genetically-engineered superman is slicing off his skin and feeding it to a looming and unwound ouroboros-centipede-thing, comprised of interwoven decayed corpses, that blocks out the writhing fractal-patterned sky)

  24. Tommi Says:

    I think the graphic artist simply mistook the title for the briefing.

    Actually, at first I read “Anything you can do … to Randall Garrett” and thought it was part of a series …

  25. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    Hey, isn’t this a Beatles album cover?

  26. Green Says:

    This may need a nomination for the absolutely worst cover ever. Gaaaah!

  27. anon Says:

    “…, doctor?”
    “I’m afraid I wouldn’t even know where to begin. The point of no return is in the distant past with these body modifications of yours. Do you even have a mouth?”

  28. Perry Armstrong Says:

    “Trumpy, you can do magic things!”

  29. Anna T. Says:

    The centipede is clearly dismayed at its fate, because, @anon, you’re right: it WAS human once, but then the aliens changed it into one of their own. And then it was placed on this cover.

  30. GSS noob Says:

    The tiny advert subtitle isn’t correct no matter what — it isn’t even Randall Garrett’s best novel written before 1969.

  31. classicOz Says:

    perhaps ‘finest’ refers to the font size used in the text

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