Welcome to Dimension X

In 1969, the first book in the “Richard Blade” series, “The Bronze Axe,” by Jeffrey Lord came out. That is also the year the second book came out. And the third. And they kept coming out. Year-after-year, for the next decade-and-a-half until the whole thing stuttered to a stop in 1984. Thirty-seven books in fifteen years. Yes, that is the kind of series it was: mass-produced, trivial, unabashed pulp.

And I’m going to read them and review them here. Maybe not all of them, but a bunch of them. After all, according to Wikipedia:

The novels were a series of adventures featuring the titular character (MI6A’s special agent Richard Blade), who was teleported into a random alternate dimension at the beginning of each novel and forced to rely on his wits and strength. Along the way, he would have several explicitly described sexual encounters with beautiful women (both in England and in the alternate dimensions), and would usually return from his adventure with some item, or bit of knowledge useful to Britain (the ostensible reason for him being sent in the first place).

Who doesn’t want to read that??? 

The books in the series also boasted deliciously pulpy covers, usually featuring our hero Richard Blade in various states of undress, often accompanied by a young woman exhibiting a similar lack of attire.

blade series crop

These covers were actually the more conservative versions which started appear in 1973. The original 1969 covers were a little more… blatant in their advertising. Witness the original vs the new cover for book three, “Jewel of Tharn.”

That original cover is impressively phallic on so many levels: the strapping man holding up an upraised spear proudly erect, while a naked woman at waist level worships him.

The point is, you see these covers, and you know what to expect: there is going to be a strapping paragon of manhood running around hitting people, he is probably gonna be in the buff, and he will hopefully bang some chicks along the way.

And you know what? Truth in advertising, man.

Next, we get naked with “The Bronze Axe.”

UPDATE: Thanks to commentor lumpenprole for the correction on the publication order of the covers.

 

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5 thoughts on “Welcome to Dimension X

  1. I think you reversed the original and revised covers in that last image. I can’t imagine they’d have CUT the book’s price from $1.50 to $0.75, nor that the series would have already have had 2,000,000 copies in print with the first printing. And — to my admittedly inexpert eye — the phallic cover screams 1960s or earlier styling, while the rainbow gladiator cover looks decidedly 1970s.

    I’m guessing this series found an audience no one expected it to so they actually made the covers LESS lurid to allow it to be stocked in stores that might not otherwise have welcomed the original covers.

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  2. As a follow-up it would seem that you are absolutely right! The ‘phallic’ cover was the 1969 edition (69 heeeeeeeyyyyyy) and the ‘gladiator’ cover was from a 1973 revamp. This post has been updated accordingly. I’ll probably also do a post talking about the covers and editions in the near future.

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