Estonian oddities

Desmond Bagley Running Blind - Estonian Melor (мелоp) Ed. 1996 © MELOR


A little confusion at the publishing house of Melor (мелоp) based in Tallinn, Estonia, has provided us with perhaps the oddest cover art for Desmond Bagley’s Running Blind yet found.

In 1993 Melor, together with the Smolensk based publisher Rusich, established the ‘Treasury combat and adventure fiction’ series (сокровищница ъоевой фантастикн и лриключений). Under this series they re-published fantasy and science fiction novels in Russian language editions, usually in the format of 2-in-1, or 3-in-1 editions often including more than one authors work.

In 1996 a novel by the British fantasy and science fiction author Michael Moorcock, The Custom of Ancestors [rough translation], was published together with Running Blind (ISBN: 5-87005-045-6). Moorcock’s name takes precedence over Bagley’s on the front cover, however his novel title is omitted in favour of Running Blind (Бег вслепую).

With the backdrop of a Mesoamerican pyramid, men firing rifles into the distance and a man running with machete in hand, the front cover art for this edition appears to have more relevance to the plot of Bagley’s novel The Vivero Letter. However, the running man depicted is a cyborg and the artist appears to have combined both science fiction and adventure genres into one illustration. This illustration has been identified as ‘Cyborg 3’ drawn by the highly respected British artist Richard Clifton-Dey, who produced artwork for science fiction, fantasy, action-adventure, romance and gothic horror book covers from the 1970’s until his death in 1997.

Interestingly Clifton-Dey did in fact produce cover art in 1976 for a book titled Mystery of the Ancients: Early Spacemen and the Mayas by Eric & Craig Umland, though the cover art for that book is quite different from the ‘Cyborg 3’ illustration. [1]

Within this edition both stories are accompanied by a black-and-white science fiction illustration, in this case credited to the artist Chris Achilleos, and the rear cover art shows an illustration titled Restoree by the artist Angus McKie.


Other publications by Melor, which pair Bagley’s (Десмонд Бэгли) novels with science fiction novels include:

The Vivero Letter, [rough translation – Treasure of the Maya] published with Saboteur [rough translation], which is in fact the novel Wasp, by the British science fiction author Eric Frank Russell (Диверсант – ISBN: 5-87005-043-X);

The Tightrope Men, published with the novel Secret Dimension [rough translation], also by Eric Frank Russell  (Над бездной – ISBN: 5-87005-042-1);

High Citadel, published with Lethal Jump [rough translation], which is in fact the novel Operation Umanaq, by the British science fiction author John Rankine (Звездная цитадель – ISBN: 5-87005-039-1); and

The Freedom Trap, published with novels by Erne Harding and Poul Anderson, Space Rebellion and Strategy for Victory [rough translations] respectively (Космический бунт – ISBN: 5-87005-032-4).

Suffice to say the confusion at Melor Publishing is not specific to the Running Blind novel as Bagley is erroneously named as the author on another 2-in-1 novel Стертые миры (ISBN: 587005043Х), which in fact contains two stories, West of Eden and Winter in Eden, by the American science fiction author Harry Harrison.

Bagley is also listed as author alongside Eric Frank Russell in the 3-in-1 novel Пылающая Вселенная (ISBN: 5-87005-043-X), which in fact contains three stories by the American science fiction author Andre Norton.

All in all quite odd, though taking into account Bagley’s interest in science fiction, these editions may well have provided a moment of amusement for him were he to have been alive to see them published.

Front cover art, Cyborg 3 by Richard Clifton-Dey and rear cover art, Restoree by Angus McKie are shown below.


Addendum March 2019

Martin Caidin High Crystal © Mayflower Publishing / Artwork © Richard Clifton DeyI am indebted to Bagley Brief reader Brett McAleer from Sydney, Australia, who has identified the original publication source of Richard Clifton-Dey’s artwork used on this Melor 2-in-1 ‘Treasury combat and adventure fiction’ series featuring Running Blind (Бег вслепую).

The cover was designed for the paperback edition of Martin Caidin’s novel High Crystal (ISBN: 978-0-583126-69-4) published by Mayflower on 18th March 1976. High Crystal was the third novel in Caidin’s Cyborg series which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise.

In High Crystal the protagonist Steve Austin, an operative for the US government who is part man, part machine, is sent to Peru to investigate a mysterious power source in the ruins of an ancient civilisation, but Austin and his team soon discover that a criminal organisation also has their sights set on obtaining the power contained within the ‘High Crystal’.

Viewed in its correct context Clifton-Dey’s artwork of course makes complete sense unlike its, at best erroneous, at worst copyright breached, use by Melor.

Next: Finnish edition


Images courtesy & © MELOR / ‘Cyborg 3’  © Mayflower Publishing / R. Clifton-Dey / ‘Restoree’ © A. McKie

1. (2016). ‘Бег вслепую’ [online]. URL [Accessed 23rd July 2016]