Ric Binkley is another of those figures from the early days of F&SF who quietly did their work without becoming part of the in group and so have vanished from history. No birth or death date is known, nor anything about his life in between. All history records is that he contributed a couple of dozen covers during the 1950s and a handful of interior illustrations.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls his work “generally undistinguished.” Maybe. This cover is either an exception or a refutation. Amazingly, it’s unique in Gnome’s history by showing the inside of a space ship. What a great view we get. The odd overhead angle is like a peek at the future through a time viewer; somehow more real than the standard, straight-on, movie posterish head shots of stalwart spacemen or whirlpooling galaxies. The two giant arrows draw the buyer’s eye to the stunning sight of a person walking through a wall out of what can only be a transporter device. A giant window looks out into a starry universe dominated by a nearly planet. The cover is a nearly perfect scream of “science fiction” in the Campbellian sense of a page lifted from a future magazine.
Although the elevator-floor-style dials date the imagery, both operators appear to be watching screens, one on the wall, the other on the console, a touch that must have felt especially modern in 1952 since it still seems right today.
The Mixed Men is one of three Gnome titles to be reprinted by the early-1950s Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club.
Prologue from “Concealment,” Astounding Science Fiction, September 1943; Chapters 8-15 from “The Storm,” Astounding Science Fiction, October 1943; Chapters 16-23 from “The Mixed Men,” Astounding Science Fiction, January 1945. Chapters 1-7 original to this volume.
Margaret Pierce reviewed this book for the December 23, 1952 Idaho State Journal:
The background of [a] fascinating story is a star-flung civilization.
Groff Conklin reviewed it for the September 1952 Galaxy:
This is atomic-powered wish fulfillment!
A. E. van Vogt, The Mixed Men, 1952, title #19, 253 pages, $2.75. 5000 copies printed; 3000 bound 1952, 2000 bound 1955?
Hardback. Cover design by Ric Binkley. “An Interstellar Adventure” is on the dust jacket but not inside. “FIRST EDITION” stated on copyright page. Designed by David Kyle. Printed by: H. Wolff. Back cover: 4 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.
1) CURREY (A) Dark blue boards, spine lettered in red.
2) CURREY (B) Dark blue cloth, spine lettered in red.