Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes: The 1970s Italian SF Art of Allison A.K.A. Mariella Anderlini

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(Cover for the 1973 edition of The City in the Sea (1951), Wilson Tucker)

Mariella Anderlini, under the pseudonym Allison, produced a vast number of surreal and masterful SF covers (between 1969-1988) primarily for the Italian SF publisher Libra Editrice.  Apparently, she went under the pseudonym to avoid damaging her professional painting career.  She was the wife of Ugo Malaguti, editor and author, who founded Libra Editrice and edited Galassia.

As I celebrate the birthdays of a range of SF authors/illustrators/editors from multiple language traditions on twitter (@SFRuminations), I came across Allison’s work while researching her husband’s untranslated SF output.  However, only through the diligent research of a twitter follower, whose Italian is far better than mine, were we able to come across her real name.

A reader on twitter sent me two Italian articles for more details (they are scanty) about her life and SF art: “Libra Editrice: ascess e caduta di un impero”  and  “Nova SF.”

And her art is absolutely gorgeous…. Her work enters the pantheon of my favorite SF cover artists.

I have included a selection of Libra Editrice covers between the years of 1970-1976—including Clifford D. Simak’s City (1952), John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids (1955), and Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow (1955).

My single favorite cover of this selection is the 1970 edition of Il palazzo del cielo (1970) by her husband Ugo Malaguti—the strange growth entwines with human body parts…

What are your favorites? Why?

Enjoy!

For part II on Allison’s art: The Galassia Covers

For more SF art posts consult the INDEX.

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(Cover for the 1976 edition of Return to the Stars (1968), Edmond Hamilton)

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(Cover for the 1975 edition of The Yellow Fraction (1969), Rex Gordon)

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(Cover for the 1976 edition of The Long Tomorrow (1955), Leigh Brackett)

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(The 1976 edition of The Alien (1951), Raymond F. Jones)

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(Cover for the 1976 edition of The Chrysalids (1955), John Wyndham)

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(Cover for the 1976 edition of The Witches of Karres (1966), James H. Schmitz)

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(Cover for the 1970 edition of City (1952), Clifford D. Simak)

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(Cover for the 1970 edition of Il palazzo del cielo (1970), Ugo Malaguti)

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(Cover for the 1973 edition of The Dreaming Jewels (1950), Theodore Sturgeon)

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(Cover for the 1974 edition of Time’s Last Gift (1972), Philip José Farmer)

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(Cover for the 1970 edition of The Star Kings (1947), Edmond Hamilton)

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(Cover for the 1970 edition of Children of Tomorrow (1970), A. E. van Vogt)

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(Cover for the 1972 edition of The Wanderer (1964), Fritz Leiber)

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(Cover for the 1972 edition of Between Planets (1951), Robert A. Heinlein)

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27 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes: The 1970s Italian SF Art of Allison A.K.A. Mariella Anderlini”

    1. Her and Karel Thole (who illustrated most of the Urania editions) make a fearsome pair of important Italian illustrators (Thole was Dutch but illustrated primarily for Italian editions).

      Which is your favorite?

      1. I love them all for their sheer beauty – and would have any of them on the lounge wall in a heartbeat – but if you forced me to choose, the one I’d love above all others is The Return to the Stars – the first one. In addition to being lovely to look at, there is a great deal going on in that picture and the more I look at it, the more layers I see. I’ve added the link in my Sunday Post as one of my outstanding blogs of the week, as well…

  1. Well,I was really referring to the Tholes…..I meant you keep discovering unknown treasures.I looked at your related link for the Tholes……I can see what you mean by a “fearsome pair”!

  2. Hi Joachim

    Wow I love this it is so different. I really like the use of red and as I scrolled through my favourite kept changing. The Leiber seems very Dali like, and the Sturgeon really speaks to me, but for a SF title I think I have to go with the Hamilton. Although the Van Vogt and Farmer are cool, a tough choice, I would love to get a couple even though I have not real use for them.

    Thanks for putting this together.
    Guy

    1. Thanks Guy! It’s fun researching and tracking the images down. Unfortunately, I can’t find clear/large images of the majority of her work.

      Which Hamilton cover? The Star Kings or Return to the Stars?

  3. Wow they are so beautiful. I’ve picked ‘Return to the Stars’ as my favourite but I feel much the same way as Guy (above) when he says “as I scrolled through my favourite kept changing”. ‘The Long Tomorrow’ is beautifully melancholic and ‘The Dreaming Jewels’ is gorgeously captivating, though it could do with some upping of contrast to bring out the colours.

    1. Thanks, as I mentioned to Guy, it’s really fun tracking them down.

      Keep in mind how the original canvases might have drastically different colors — turning them into covers often changes contrast. Also, it’s hard to find clear/large images of the majority of her covers….

  4. Wow! These are tremendous. I see influences of the surrealists – Max Ernst, in particular – with her use of both stark geometric and organic forms. Each one a work of art in its own right. Thank you for researching and sharing.

    1. The Long Tomorrow has a wonderful texture. My second favorite is definitely the 1973 edition of The City in the Sea (1951), Wilson Tucker — the sun, entwined with the tree (?), the sculpted rock…

      1. Yes,I’m quite keen on the Wilson Tucker one too.Also the Hamilton one at the top,and the Sturgeon cover.Her cerebral sytle is indicative of so much SF,rather than the standard SF tropes on that were common Anglo-American covers.

  5. This is my favourite set of covers so far. As far my favourite among this lot, I’d be hard-pressed to choose. But… I am a sucker for illustrations involving trees and/or roots and shoots sprouting up or entangling things (cities, etc.). -And, lo and behold, one that fits the bill happens to be a Sturgeon book. 😉

  6. I really don’t know much about artists of foreign language editions, I’ll have to check out ISFDB for more.

    This is the best cover of ‘The Wanderer’ that I’ve seen. Most cover art that I’ve seen for that one is of weird looking cat.

      1. It’s interesting seeing all the variations of cover art for a single title. I do like both of those, and also the Groot & Ebell one as well. The one by Dean Ellis looks like a mid 70’s disaster movie poster: “The Wanderer, An Irwin Allen Production” !

      2. I have perhaps the best American cover for The Wanderer (I read it a long time ago, not Leiber’s best by a long shot!). No naked cat woman. It’s unfortunately uncredited….

    1. @Paul — Well, there are only thumbnail images of many of her covers on isfdb.org — I had to track down the images individually from other sources. However, some foreign artists, for example Karel Thole, have much better documentation on isfdb.org. But yes! It’s fun to explore and the database is getting better every day.

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