Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Rampant Machines, The 60s Covers of Jerome Podwil

I’ve never been a fan of A. E. van Vogt.  A while back, having just finished his “masterpiece” The World of Null-A (1948), I headed to the used book store and saw Jerome Podwil’s cover for Vogt’s sequel, The Players of Null-A (1966) and had to pick it up.  Simply put, it is a spectacular piece of art.  Discovering Podwil’s Calder-esque machine extending its limbs across the plain made me pay more attention to the covers as art and the artists who made them.  Hence this series of posts! (Adventures in Science Fiction Art Index)

(Are any of the books worth reading? What’s your favorite of his work (perhaps one I haven’t listed)?)

(Cover for the 1966 edition of The Players of Null-A (1966), A. E. van Vogt)

Deep greens, flying machines, a frantic race across (_ _ _ _)…

(Cover for the 1966 edition of The Four Day Weekend (1966), George Henry Smith)

The rampant machine archetype…

(Cover for the 1965 edition of The Black Star Passes (novelized in 1965), John W. Campbell)

Sprouting across a planetscape….

(Cover for the 1965 edition of The Other Side of Time (1965), Keith Laumer)

Figures awed by an unknown creation…

(Cover for the 1965 edition of The Enemy Stars (1959), Poul Anderson)

Stylized spaceship, armless occupants, masked, skeletal?…

(Cover for the 1969 edition of Space Lash (1969), Hal Clement)

Tool?  Weapon?

(Cover for the 1966 edition of The Crack In Space (1966), Philip K. Dick)

Adventures in Science Fiction Art Index

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Rampant Machines, The 60s Covers of Jerome Podwil

  1. Thanks for this. These covers are spectacular. They remind me about the value of the dollar back then as well! … And the insurmountable back catalogue of SF …

    • Haha, it’s an endless task trying to surmount the sci-fi mound — hence I’ve tried to focus on 50s, 60s, 70s science fiction with this blog — to give at least a tad bit of focus to my endeavor. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I have mixed feelings about Poul Anderson, but The Enemy Stars is one of his novels I liked. Four men of different socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs and political orientations crew a space ship on a scientific mission, and must work together when a disaster occurs. The crisis leads them to reevaluate their beliefs and attitudes about life and “grow.”

    As for Van Vogt, in my experience his short stories are better than his novels. I feel comfortable recommending Destination Universe!, a collection of stories from the ’40s that has a copyright date of 1952. I have the Berkley 1964 paperback edition with the Richard Powers cover.

    • I wrote a positive review for The Enemy Stars a while back — wasn’t a masterpiece but definitely readable and even admirable in sections (although the end, alas). I’ve not read ANY of Van Vogt’s short stories — I’ll definitely try to procure a copy. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Yeah, I’ve discovered multiple covers which are reused but didn’t know about that one… I guess the publisher keeps the rights to the art, right? I’m not sure how the 50s/60s/70s cover art business worked…

      • Outermost: The Art & Life of Jack Gaughan is a great book that provides some insight into how the SF illustration business worked in the past. Stephen Fabian also talks about his experiences with publishers at his terrific website.

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