pataphysics n 1 a 'science of imaginary solutions' conceived by the French writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) whose faux-scientific articles and essays mixed real and imaginary science in such a way as to obscure their underlying absurdity and thus appear plausible 2 science fiction disguised as science fact.


Following the panic of '68, Penguin's new art director for fiction David Pelham commissioned the Italian designer Franco Grignani to create a set of sixteen covers for an sf mini-series in 1969-70.

RAY BRADBURY The Day it Rained Forever, 1969 The Day it Rained Forever (1878) by Ray Bradbury

1969 reprint with cover art by Franco Grignani.
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Grignani was a leading figure in the field of experimental photography, with a career stretching back some forty years to his early work with photograms. From this he progressed to a range of techniques based on standard photography which he then projected and distorted using lenses, shards of glass, pieces of broken mirror, or liquids such as oil and water.

FRITZ LEIBER The Wanderer, 1969 The Wanderer (2594) by Fritz Leiber

First published 1964.

Published by Penguin Books May 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
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The images such techniques produce are beautifully represented by Grignani's designs for the sf series, which reinstated the black covers Alan Aldridge had introduced in '66, along with the sf label which the panic tops of '68 had overlooked.

EDGAR PANGBORN Davy, 1969 Davy (2600) by Edgar Pangborn

First published 1964.

Published by Penguin Books May 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.

Grignani's black covers and single-colour images form a kaleidoscope of shimmering dreams and shattered nightmares. They are like a free association of thoughts mapped out in watery reflections that briefly coalesce and then disperse, leaving memories of figures trapped in the fragments of a looking-glass. They hint at other dimensions and warped worlds where space swims and time shudders. Viewed as a set they would not look out of place if framed and hung on the walls of an art gallery. The thought of sixteen black spines lined up on a bookshelf seems somewhat prosaic by comparison.

AVRAM DAVIDSON Rork!, 1969 Rork! (2710) by Avram Davidson

First published 1965.

Published by Penguin Books May 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
FREDERIK POHL and JACK WILLIAMSON The Reefs of Space, 1969 The Reefs of Space (2778) by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

Part one of the Starchild trilogy, first published July–November 1963 as a three-part serial in If magazine.

Published by Penguin Books May 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
Part 2 >>

In recent years evidence has come to light that Grignani designed the black-and-white Woolmark logo, an Op Art-inspired image of a ball of wool which on closer inspection is a threefold Möbius strip. The logo was launched in 1964, following an international competition the previous year, and remains one of the world's most recognisable logos to this day. At the time it was credited to another Italian designer named Francesco Saroglia, but according to the April 2011 issue of Creative Review nothing else is known about Saroglia or his work. Furthermore, Grignani could not officially enter the competition as he was one of the judges, so when the design won he could neither admit that it was his nor collect the prize. However, four years before his death in 1999, an exhibition of Grignani's work was held in Milan and among the exhibits was a page from his diary showing a number of his designs for the logo, including the winning entry.

HARRY HARRISON Bill, the Galactic Hero, 1969 Bill, the Galactic Hero (2970) by Harry Harrison

First published August–October 1965 as a three-part serial in New Worlds magazine.

Published by Penguin Books May 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
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JOHN BRUNNER The Squares of the City, 1969 The Squares of the City (2686) by John Brunner

First published 1965.

Published by Penguin Books October 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
PHILIP K DICK Time Out of Joint, 1969 Time Out of Joint (2847) by Philip K Dick

First published December 1959–February 1960 as a three-part serial in New Worlds magazine.

Published by Penguin Books October 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
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FRITZ LEIBER Conjure Wife, 1969 Conjure Wife (3023) by Fritz Leiber

First published April 1943 in Unknown Worlds magazine.

Published by Penguin Books October 1969 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
FREDERIK POHL and C M KORNBLUTH Search the Sky, 1970 Search the Sky (2633) by Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth

First published 1954.

Published by Penguin Books May 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
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FREDERIK POHL and JACK WILLIAMSON Starchild, 1970 Starchild (3103) by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

Part two of the Starchild trilogy, first published January–March 1965 as a three-part serial in If magazine.

Published by Penguin Books May 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
<< Part 1 / All 3 parts >>
PHILIP K DICK The Penultimate Truth, 1970 The Penultimate Truth (3105) by Philip K Dick

First published 1964.

Published by Penguin Books May 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
FRED SABERHAGEN Berserker, 1970 Berserker (2694) by Fred Saberhagen

The first eleven stories in the Berserker series, first published as a collection in 1967.

Published by Penguin Books October 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.

Without a Thought
Goodlife
Patron of the Arts
The Peacemaker
Stone Place
What T and I Did
Mr Jester
Masque of the Red Shift
Sign of the Wolf
In the Temple of Mars
The Face of the Deep
EDGAR PANGBORN The Judgement of Eve, 1970 The Judgement of Eve (2867) by Edgar Pangborn

First published 1966.

Published by Penguin Books October 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.
MICHAEL MOORCOCK (Ed) The Traps of Time, 1970 The Traps of Time (2868) edited by Michael Moorcock

Nine stories and an essay, first published as an anthology in 1968.

Published by Penguin Books October 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.

• Brian Aldiss : Man in His Time
• Charles L Harness : Time Trap
• Langdon Jones : The Great Clock
• J G Ballard : Mr F is Mr F
• David I Masson : Traveller's Rest
• Jorge Luís Borges : The Garden of Forking Paths
• George Collyn : Unification Day
• Thomas M Disch : Now is Forever
• Roger Zelazny : Divine Madness
• Alfred Jarry : How to Construct a Time Machine
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Not long after Penguin published The Traps of Time, the editor of the anthology, Michael Moorcock, began collaborating and sometimes performing with the English space-rock band Hawkwind. Moorcock may have lent the anthology to band member Robert Calvert, for it was around this time that Calvert read Alfred Jarry's pataphysical essay How to Construct a Time Machine and claimed to have noticed what others had missed, namely that Jarry was describing his bicycle.

According to Calvert, Jarry was 'the kind of bloke who'd think it was a good joke to write this very informed-sounding piece.....describing how to build a time machine, which is actually about how to build a bicycle, buried under this smoke- screen of physics that sounds authentic'. It is an intriguing idea since Jarry was very fond of his bicycle, and cycling features prominently elsewhere in his fiction, notably The Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race and a chapter in The Supermale describing a 10,000-mile race between an express train and the crew of a five-man bicycle at speeds of over 300 kilometres per hour. So had Calvert cracked the secret of temporal displacement, or had he just cracked?

Either way, it was Jarry's essay that inspired Calvert to write the lyrics for Hawkwind's 1972 hit single Silver Machine, as Calvert himself explained: 'At that time there were a lot of songs about space travel' and 'NASA was actually, really doing it. They'd put a man on the moon and were planning to put parking lots and hamburger stalls and everything up there' so naturally everyone assumed the song was about 'some sort of cosmic space travel machine' whereas all it was really saying was 'I've got a silver bicycle'.

JOHN BRUNNER The Productions of Time, 1970 The Productions of Time (3141) by John Brunner

First published August–September 1966 as a two-part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Published by Penguin Books October 1970 with cover art by Franco Grignani.

In 2011 the design magazine Creative Review showcased Grignani's Penguin sf covers in its award-winning Monograph.

Penguin Book Covers: Franco Grignani Penguin Book Covers: Franco Grignani

Published by Creative Review April 2011.
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