Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Assorted 1970s Surrealistic Faces by Richard Powers

This is the second post in a potential series of posts showcasing the science fiction cover art by Richard Powers (1921-1996). My first post discussed a few surrealist cityscape covers from the 1950s.  Here I’ve selected a variety of surrealistic, composite, conglomerated, and masked faces from his 1970s covers.

A delightful green human shape — mouthless — replete with translucent hollows?  emerging occupants or surfacing memories?

(Cover for the 1973 edition of All Flesh is Grass (1965), Clifford D. Simak)

The Eternal Frontiers utilizes another interesting technique — paper cutouts.  The cutouts give a stylized outline of a landscape which Powers’ haunting and ethereal figures inhabit.  The face in the foreground is the least ethereal…  A disturbed gaze.

(Cover for the 1973 edition of The Eternal Frontiers (1973), James H. Scmitz)

Powers’ third cover for Poul Anderson’s fun novel Shield is the most successful.  The shield opens showing the man (and a reflection?) and the horrors that he has been protected from/caused surround him.

(Cover for the 1974 edition of Shield (1963), Poul Anderson)

Layered faces… Powers has perfected the haunting gaze…

(Cover for the 1976 edition of StarMother, Sydney J. Van Scyoc)

Vaguely humanoid ALUMINUM MEN!

(Cover for the 1975 edition of The Aluminum Man (1975), G. C. Edmondson)

A spectral multi-headed humanoid Hydra…. eyeless…

(Cover for the 1975 edition of Future Corruption (1975), Roger Elwood)

My favorite of today’s bunch.  An unusual object (and accompanying objects) levitate above the plain.   Humans gather into some stretched human (ish) skin out of sight….  Beautiful!

(Cover for the 1976 edition of Pavane (1968), Keith Roberts)

Blood red clouds, man orbited?

(Cover for the 1972 edition of Night of Light (1966), Philip José Farmer)

Delightful chaos.

(Cover for the 1972 edition of The Shape Changer (1972), Keith Laumer)

Mask = definite human form.  Vague human outlines gather.

(Cover for the 1975 edition of Missing Man (1975), Katherine MacLean)

Measuring your spectral form….

(Cover for the 1972 edition of The Infinite Cage (1972), Keith Laumer)

Tangent: Are any of these novels/collections worth reading (especially Katherine MacLean’s Missing Man)?  I’ve only read Poul Anderson’s Shield. 

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art Index

10 Replies to “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Assorted 1970s Surrealistic Faces by Richard Powers”

  1. Err… Much as I’d love to have read a Keith Roberts book that matched this cover, ‘Pavane’ is a set of interlinked short stories set in a 1970s where Elizabeth I had been assassinated and England was still Catholic, with steam-lorries and a network of semaphore towers in lieu of radio. Powers could have done something rather special with that premise if they’d let him read the book instead of, as I suspect, taking something he did for someone else and just slpping it on another novel at random.

    1. I’m generally less interested in whether or not the artist conveyed the contents of the work in a convincing manner — a different criteria I guess… But yes, I would love to read Pavane — it’s on my list.

    1. Yup yup, it’s been on my list a long time… Complex and slow going are not at all problems 😉 My favorite sci-fi novel is Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner — one of more the slow going and complex works in sci-fi….

      1. Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up are my favorites as well. Zanzibar is very subtle, I’ve read it three times and I’m still not exactly sure that I’ve picked up everything yet.

        1. I enjoyed The Sheep Look Up but didn’t think it was nearly as good as Stand on Zanzibar… Have you read Jagged Orbit? It’s supposed to be one of his best but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I did read Shockwave Rider — another enjoyable read but far inferior to Stand.

            1. Yup yup, I’ve read The Whole Man — I think I’ve read at least 15 or so of his novels. My favorite of his earlier works is Meeting at Infinity (1961) — probably his best pre-Stand on Zanzibar novella.

              I’m also blown away by his novella Lungfish (1957) (about a generation ship — and a social situation that authors like Le Guin in Paradises Lost expands greatly on) in the otherwise atrocious collection Entry to Elsewhen (1972)

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