American Artists: An Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporary Americans, edited by Les Krantz (Facts on File, $16.95). More than 1,000 American arists -- those that have constituted the creative explosion in this country since World War II -- are surveyed in this encyclopedic volume, which includes color plates, as well as black and white illustrations and brief biographies of the artists. Editor Les Krantz enhances the book's role as a reference by including an appendix of artists listed by state and grouped according to medium, i.e. printmakers, sculptors, etc.

Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms Control, by Strobe Talbott (Vintage, $7.95). Since 1958 the United States and the Soviet Union have discussed ways to control nuclear weapons. These negotiations, as the wapons and their delivery systems have become more sophisticated, are incredibly technical, fully understood only by a handful of experts. Moreover, the negotiations have proceeded in fits and starts, as the rivalry between both nations has continued. This award-winning history -- by the Washington bureau chief of Time magazine -- reports the American background to the current round of strategic arms limitation talks in astonishing detail.

Twentieth Century Journey: The Start, 1904- 1930, A Memoir of a Life and the Times, Vol. 1, by William L. Shirer (Bantam, $12.95). As a journalist and broadcaster William L. Shirer witnessed this century's greatest upheaval, the near destruction of Europe during World War II. In this, his first autobiographical volume, he traces his early life and career which took him from Iowa to Paris to Germany, where he secured a front row seat for the story which made him famous -- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Picking Winners, by Andrew Beyer (Houghton Mifflin, $7.95). A reissue of the classic book on speed handicapping, by the racing columnist of The Washington Post. The book positively teems with interesting information, e.g., "The inside part of the track is harder and faster than the outside. This usually helps front runners because they can outbreak their opponents and get to the good footing along the rail." See you at the track.

Standing Into Danger, by Cassie Brown (Doubleday, $9.95). On February 18, 1942, three U.S. Navy ships zigzag through a predawn snowstorm, maintaining radio silence as a protection against the German U-boats. Visibility is zero. Without warning the three ships -- the supply ship Pollux and the destroyers Truxton and Wilkes -- run aground on the rocky Newfoundland cliffs. In the ensuing confusion 203 sailors drown. A few survivors struggle ashore; others are rescued by the courageous efforts of nearby villagers. The surviving officers face a court- martial. This exciting account of the disaster will excite armchair admirals.

The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry (Vintage, $4.95). This chronicle of the San Francisco purlieu where the counterculture flourished as nowhere else is an exercise in full-tilt-boogie nostalgia by a Rolling Stone editor who was there, man. Listen to this beginning of a chapter called "The Deluge": "Haight Street, any weekend afternoon, April 1967: Part Old Calcutta with beads and paisley-print fabrics and bare feet, incense and tinkling anklet bells, beggars squatting on the sidewalk. Part football stadium crush, complete with people selling programs -- the Oracle, the Barb . . . Part Middle Ages, too, with a husband and wife evangelist team haranguing the crowds, and street dealers muttering their traditional street cry: 'Acid, speed, lids?'" The index alone -- entries on the Family Dog, the Hopi Indians, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Free City Clinic, and the World's First Idea-in -- testifies that Perry captures the essence of the raucous era. FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION

Vampire Junction, by S.P. Somtow (Berkley, $3.50). In this horror novel, S.P. Somtow (pen name for Thai sf author Somtow Sucharitkul) traces the life -- or rather after-life -- of one Timmy Valentine, rock star and vampire. The action ranges from Pompei through the blood baths of Gilles de Rais and the Holocaust up to present-day video games. As usual with Sucharitkul the writing is elegant, fragmented, baroque, and capable of great power.

Null-A Three by A.E. Van Vogt (DAW, $3.50). Among the most influential writers of sf, A.E. Van Vogt gave permanent form to some of science fiction's most cherished dreams: the outcast mutant (in Slan), the original of Alien ("Black Destroyer"), the libertarian Weapon Shops; and the complex superman of the Null-A books. First written in the 1940s and '50s, The World of Null-Aand The Players of Null-A introduced Gosseyn ("Go Sane"), seemingly a pawn in a universe of vast complexity who rises, through the use of non-Aristotelian logic ("Null-A"), to become a savior of the galaxy. First published in France, Null-A Three reawakens Gosseyn to take him toward a confrontation with the founders of cosmic civilization.