(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the 1953 edition of Space, Space, Space (1953), ed. William Sloane)
Our science fiction heroes are often confronted by bleak alien landscapes adorned with rocks, vast deserts, adverse atmospheres — commonly these vistas are traversed, colonized, tamed… Spaceships touch down on virgin surfaces, the explorers tentatively step forward, aliens peer from the distance. When settlements are built the alien vista remains an ever present source of fear and fascination. The depiction of a convincingly bleak alien landscape (think Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune) can be of paramount importance in conveying not only otherworldliness but the backdrop for human drama and the challenges our heroes must overcome (by technology or other means).
I’ve saved my favorite of Alex Schomburg’s 50s book covers for this post (above) — in this case, a fanciful Moon vista with unusual round spaceships with descending figures (not sure if they’re human or not), crags, astronauts, and Earth in the background.
I was inspired to make the post when I stumbled upon Jarr’s cover for the April, 1960 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction (below): the endless white sands, unusual wishbone-like structures, and aliens on alien steeds in the foreground all evoked a profoundly alien world (not sure which of the stories in the issue it illustrates).
What are your favorite alien landscapes? (and as always, are the novels/novellas/novelettes/short stories worth readings?)
(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1970 edition of Natives of Space (1965), Hal Clement)
(Jarr’s cover for the April, 1960 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction)
(F. J. Terence Maloney’s cover for the June, 1957 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction)
(Richard Mckenna’s cover for the August, 1964 issue of Amazing Stories)
(Chesley Bonestell’s cover for the August 1967 issue of Analog Science Fiction)
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1960 edition of Next Door to the Sun (1960), Stanton A. Coblentz)
For more posts like this one: Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art INDEX