Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Funny Robots

Unless those arms extend the robot's only use will be to run over people -- which it's about to do.

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the the 1962 edition of Next Stop The Stars (1962), Robert Silverberg)

While browsing through my rapidly growing collection of cover images on my computer I couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarious robots that pop up every now and then.  From evil looking R2D2s (with legs) to multi-handed flying death robots with unfortunate double smiley faces!  Oh, and the crying rescue robot….

If I were in the robot designing business I’d conjure up a robot that could cry — a good use of time — as useful as Data with his emotion chip talking to his tricorder or finally understanding jokes: “Geordi: The Farpoint mission? Data, that was seven years ago. Data: I know! I just got it! Very funny!” (I apologize for my references to the rather egregious Star Trek: Generations movie, sadly, it was the first thing which came to mind).

These are in no way the funniest robots out there but the ones I happened to know of the top of my head….

Feel free to point out sillier ones!

Oh, the smiley face -- the friendly killer!

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1984 edition of Star-Search (1983), Colin Kapp)

Trashcans are often dangerous -- en masse.

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1962 edition of Second Ending (1961), James White)

The killer robot had the world (and some other planets) on its chest -- literally.

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1969 edition of The Killer Thing (1967), Kate Wilhelm)

The new breed of high tech rescue robot cries when it sees dead people.

(Sydney Jordan’s cover for the August, 1961 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction)

R2D2's cousin wasn't so nice.

(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition of Outside the Universe (serialized in 1929), Edmond Hamilton)

For similar posts: Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art INDEX

15 Replies to “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Funny Robots”

  1. I own that edition of The Killer Thing and I was so disappointed in the book (which I had purchased because of the awesome cover picture and blurb) that I wrote a scathing review of it on Amazon.

    It is strange to see such mediocre work from Jack Gaughan and Vincent Di Fate, whom I generally like.

    1. Vincent Di Fate’s work went downhill drastically in the 80s — but, virtually everything did (haha). The Killer Thing is really early Wilhelm so I give her a pass — she got better, evidenced by the magnificent Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.

      (I remember your review! “Rape, Murder, and Strip-Mining” — haha)

  2. I own “Next Stop the Stars,” which is backed with an equally terrible cover: Silverberg’s “The Seed of Earth,” which features an anthropomorphic throw rug stalking a bunch of human-shaped blobs unloading a line-heavy rocketship. That double’s art is phoning it in at best.

    My favorite of this batch is “Star Search.” Floating spider-bots are dangerous, right? Let’s give this one a smile! Damn thing’s going to tickle you to death.

    “The Killer Thing” reminds me of off-brand Transformers. You know, the ones that don’t actually transform, and you break it finding that out.

    1. Everything about the Vincent Di Fate cover (with the tickle bot) is wrong — the woman’s silly costume, the guy’s horrid red hair and cape, the tickle bot….

      I love the background of The Killer Thing’s cover — I’ll put a post up eventually with my favorite sci-fi landscapes…

  3. I would so want that alien woman on the cover of star-search to be my offsider in a situation that involved escaping. Those shoes would make it impossible for her to run, and that costume would just drop off at the slightest exertion…. Her partner isn’t even going to ruffle his dreadful hair evading the tickle-bot, he will just stroll off while it is distracted with her!

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