April 23, 2013 § 16 Comments
A strange conglomeration of novels….
If there’s any era I’m lacking knowledge in it’s late 20s-early 40s (well, I’ve read some Van Vogt + Edgar Rice Burroughs) pulp science fiction — so I decided to brush up on some of the greats. With that in mind I acquired five Ray Cummings novels (the rest will be in a later acquisition post) and Van Vogt’s Slan (1940)….. I don’t have high hopes. But now I own my first Alex Schomburg cover!
I generally do not accept review copies due to the fact that most offers are for self-published works rather than republished novels from the period I’m most familiar with (and prefer to read) — 1950-1985. So, when New York Review of Books offered me a copy of Kingsley Amis’ well-known alt-history/sci-fi (depending on whose definition you’re reading) novel The Alteration (1976) I happily agreed….
1. The Exile of Time, Ray Cummings (magazine publication 1931)
(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the 1964 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
March 23, 2013 § 18 Comments
(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1962 edition of Starman’s Quest (1958), Robert Silverberg)
Some of my favorite cover art posts over the last two years were on the theme of cities — Elevated Cities (Part I, Part II), Domed Cities (Part I, Part II, Part III), Doomed Cities (Part I, Part II, Part III), and Ice-Covered Cities. I’m starting a new series on science fiction cities – The City on the Horizon — I already have two additional posts lined up on the theme.
The City on the Horizon — a glimmer of hope for beleaguered travelers, an beacon of habitation of an unknown civilization on an alien world, an organic mass rising from the desert sands, or a refuge of the ultra wealthy rising majestic from a slum… The possibilities are « Read the rest of this entry »
March 8, 2013 § 10 Comments
(Robert Gibson Jones’ cover for the June 1948 issue of Amazing Stories)
This post is somewhat thematically similar to my earlier post on humans trapped in mysterious vials (here). The glass or crystal pillar is often just another way for a heroine to be imprisoned by some malevolent entity — waiting for the hero to come to rescue. For example Robert Gibson Jones’ wonderful pulp cover for the June 1948 issue of Amazing Stories. Although, the countless similar pillars across the horizon imply an entire city of people imprisoned in ice…
Some of the covers are even more mysterious — in Gray Morrow’s « Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2013 § 35 Comments
(Robert E. Schulz’s cover for the 1966 edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
After reading Joanna Russ’ nihilistic downer (but brilliant nevertheless) We Who Are About To… (1976) I needed to decompress with some 30s pulp. I’m generally not a fan of pulp unless it attempts to integrate social science fiction elements or creates a vibrant/otherworldly sense of wonder. Thankfully, this collection of Stanley G. Wienbaum’s stories contains one of the most influential pulp science fiction shorts due to its descriptions of aliens — ‘A Martian Odyssey’ (1934).
For anyone interested in the history of the genre and 30s pulp, « Read the rest of this entry »
January 20, 2013 § 20 Comments
(David Bergen’s cover for the 1978 edition of Sea-Horse in the Sky (1969), Edmund Cooper)
Here’s Part II of my cover art series on the delightfully nebulous theme of mysterious spheres (Part I). I’ve selected a variety of spheres: including spheres elevated in the air (balloon representations of the sun? planets? large scale planetary orbit models?), spherical eggs hatching men?, alien warships, alien (and human) transportation devices, strange atomic technology, obvious Death Star ripoffs, fields littered with the perplexing shapes….
… and even the simple unadorned sphere held aloft to indicate the pure delight of « Read the rest of this entry »
August 22, 2012 § 11 Comments
(H. W. Wesso’s June 1941 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories)
In science fiction aliens are usually evil and generally end up dead — killed by our human heroes via pseudo-videogames (Ender’s Game), guns of endless variety, nuclear weapons detonated on their home worlds, horrific diseases (Deep Space Nine), tossed into the vacuum of space, tossed into wormholes, etc etc. They are rarely “humanized” — their families, societies, and history ignored by their human enemies — they are often depicted as “true” evil. I’ve included the above cover, shooting aliens under the American flag (it is a wartime 40s issue so such overt jingoism is explainable), in order to highlight the attitude towards space fauna which we are all familiar with.
Sometimes “friendship” is feigned. C. M. Kornbluth’s short story ‘Friend To Man’ (1951) (in this collection) is a disturbing example — the maternal feeling felt by the alien towards our antihero is just a ploy to lure him into her den where she implants him with eggs, which « Read the rest of this entry »
July 25, 2012 § 10 Comments
(Gaylord Welker’s cover for the December 1952 issue of Astounding Science Fiction)
Gaylord Welker’s cover for the December 1952 issue of Astounding Science Fiction appeared in my best sci-fi cover post a while back. Although I rarely recycle images, whenever I see his masterful cover I’m impressed with the sheer desolation and desperation of the scene. Inspired by the image I set off to find more covers depicting crashed spaceships (alien or human on Earth, the moon, distant planets….).
Hannes Bok’s cover for Campbell’s The Moon is Hell (1951), Hubert Roger’s cover for the February 1939 issue of Astounding, Earle Bergey’s cover for the November 1952 issue of Fantastic Story, and Walker Brook’s cover for the 1953 edition of Simak’s First He Died (variant title: Time and Again) are thematically similar but less successful. The others include one of my personal favorites (not one of the best by a long shot) — Earle Bergey’s cover the June 1952 issue of Startling Stories – where a man and a woman rescue two green tentacled « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Imprisoned in Glass Vials (of the metaphoric + medical + experimental variety)
July 20, 2012 § 31 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1969 edition of The Fortec Conspiracy (1968), Richard M. Garvin and Edmond G. Addeo)
Humans and aliens in glass vials of all shapes and sizes waiting to be measured, matured, tested, analyzed, exposed to a variety of chemicals and emulsions. The artists often combine the iconic laboratory scene filled with the tools of the trade with sci-fi speculation on human experimentation (queue babies grown in containers in Brave New World). The result, humans in tubes. The effect is downright terrifying and one suspects, evokes a certain moribund fascination. As with the famous introductory sequence in Brave New World, the reader is horrified by birth entirety regulated by machines. Or, we are simultaneously titillated « Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2012 § 15 Comments
1. Harold Bruder’s cover for the 1967 edition of Pyschogeist (1966), L. P. Davies.
Because everyone loves lists…
…I’ve selected from my collection of cover art, placed in no particular order, my fifteen favorite science fiction covers of all time. Of course, lists being lists, and the fact that I’ve only seen a portion of all the covers ever made, it is incomplete and maleable. Although many of the most famous sci-fi artists (Powers, Lehr, and pulp masters such as Wesso) feature, some of my favorites are by lesser known artists whose visual contributions to the field should not be forgotten (Bruder, Podwil, Foster, Schongut, etc).
A few points to consider: 1) The artist rarely had control over the font. If the graphic designer responsible for putting together the final cover wasn’t up to snuff, the text often doesn’t « Read the rest of this entry »