The cover of Tales of Terror from Outer Space defies all notions of quality. I can’t rightly decide if it’s excellent or execrable, it may well combine both elements of both adjectives into something my vocabulary cannot handle. We’ve got a landscape that could pass for alien or Earth, being watched by a giant eye floating in the sky. You can see the eye is surrounded by fragments of flesh, it looks like somebody smashed a titanic clay statue and that the right eye decided to strike out on its own. My best guess of what’s going on here is that a creepy demiurge is checking in on his creation, possibly to remind everyone to be guilty. The book’s contents provide no clue on the matter.
Tales of Terror from Outer Space is a fantastic anthology of speculative fiction predating 1975. We start with my new favorite Ray Bradbury story I, Mars, about a Martian castaway who trolls himself with a complex array of tape-recording machines. Brian W. Aldiss’s Heresies of the Huge God shows how superstitiously humanity reacts to the arrival of an absolutely massive space insect, through a historical chronicle written by a future clergyman. The translated story The First Day of May by Claude Veillot describes a man searching for his wife on an Earth invaded by mantis-like aliens, which I’m guessing is heavily based on recollections of the last world war. Chetwynd-Haye’s choice of stories here are evocative and memorable.
With its polarizing cover, hokey title and quality selection of sci-fi tales, Tales of Terror from Outer Space is well worth the time of anyone interested in spooky space stories.