Category Archives: Science Fiction cover art

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Human Transformations + Transfigurations

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(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for Alien Horizons (1974), William F. Nolan)

I have been gathering this series of SF covers for a while—the human shape contorting, manipulated, transforming into in-human forms (trees, keys, insects, etc).  Some are more metaphoric, for example Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964).  While a few are clearly aliens which look “human”—Charles Shield’s incredibly uncanny cover for the 1979 edition of Fireflood and Other Stories (1979) by Vonda N. McIntyre….

All hint at bigger mysteries, and seduce with their uncertain Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Skull (connected to mysterious contraptions + looming above all + the moon mutated)

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(Richard Weaver’s cover for the 1972 edition of Dreadful Sanctuary (1948), Eric Frank Russell)

THE SKULL. The bones of the dead, the empty sockets gazing at us, a deathly gaze….  I have collected for your [horror filled] enjoyment a vast variety of SF skulls: the moon mutated into a skull, the half-skinned skull as part of mysterious contraptions, photographs of real human skulls interspersed with statuary and wigs, bizarre pink skulls pulsating with green radiation-esque Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Josh Kirby’s Astronauts (1957-1976)

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(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968), John Sladek)

It has been too long since I collated a cover art post…  I have a love hate relationship with Josh Kirby’s work.  He tends to be on the comedic side, for example, he provided covers for a large percentage of Ron Goulart’s DAW titles (The Wicked Cyborg, etc) and Prachett’s Discworld novels.

However, for a brief window of time in the 60s and 70s he produced some gorgeously surreal depictions of astronauts and and astronaut transformations.  His cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Existential Crisis

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(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Operation Terror (1962), Murray Leinster)

Barry N. Malzberg’s depressed/depraved astronauts have inspired me to make a post! (unfortunately, the covers for his books do not really fit the bill).

Guy Billot’s cover for the 1975 edition of Brian Stableford’s Man in a Cage (1975) perfectly embodies the feel of existential crisis—man, hemmed in by a single red line, raises his arms against the star-studded sky in anguish.  The nature of the crisis is left oblique.  I have selected a variety of covers that convey—with varying degrees of success/precision—this same mental state.

I admit that some might not fit the bill exactly—for example, in the uncredited Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Visualizing Time, Part II (time travel + sundials + the decay of eternity + time portals)

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(Walter Popp’s cover for the 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine, ed. Samuel Mines)

It has been along time since I cobbled together a cover art post…

…but it’s a good one!

This is Part II of my Visualizing Time sequence—if you haven’t seen it already check out Part I.  And in Part II we have a standoff across time with your primitive ancestors, decay and the hourglass, rewriting America’s racist past, the sundial as an arena for an epic showdown with an alien, jumping through cave paintings (a metaphor Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Space Station, Part IV

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(Uncredited cover for the 1963 edition of The Changeling Worlds (1959), Kenneth Bulmer)

Part IV of my space station themed sequence (Part IPart IIPart III)–if you have not yet checked them out I recommend you do.

Vincent Di Fate is the master of space station art.  They are hyper realistic and detailed.  Although I definitely prefer his earlier surrealist work (for example, here) there is a certain appeal to more technical depictions of future space technology.  However, my favorite of the handful Di Fate pieces I cobbled together is his for the 1975 edition of The Other Side of Tomorrow (1973)—the screens are windows into the future, and a space station is featured prominently.  I sort of enjoy Bob Eggleton’s cover for the 1993 Italian edition of To Open the Sky (1967) as well—although I suspect the cover was published on an English language book earlier, Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Fractured Bodies (unraveling, decaying, [de]constructing)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Crompton Divided (variant title: The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton) (1978), Robert Sheckley)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Robert Sheckley’s Crompton Divided (1978) was the inspiration for this post.  I found the cover many years ago while looking through Lehr’s entire (mostly brilliant catalogue) and was intrigued.  The man, comprised of puzzle-like pieces that slowly morph into the swirls of his clothes, stares at us with hybridized eyes — a planet, a pupil — while one missing puzzle piece allows the viewer a glimpse of a barren landscape.  His brain, entirely a puzzle, is complete, but are his senses crumbling?

 Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1971 edition of Larry Niven’s collection All the Myriad Ways (1971) is even more fantastic — the puzzle pieces (bones, faces, limbs) dangle in the air Continue reading