Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Doomed Cities (post-apocalyptical ruins, war-wrecked landscapes, burning winds)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1959 edition of The Rest Must Die (1959), Kendell Foster Crossen)

The electricity turns off in a futuristic city and people turn into animals and everyone slowly kills each other, mysterious winds sweep through cities killing everyone, large machine minds take over, nuclear bombs destroy everything, intelligent dogs take over, the sun expands drying all the oceans, the sun expands (but not as much) and water floods over all the cities, aliens come with large guns and blow everything up, aliens come with brain probes and make others blow everything up, aliens pretend to be humans and annoy the humans enough so they blow each other up with nuclear bombs, people from the past go back in time and see that humans have blown everything up and they try to prevent the aliens from making the humans blow everything up, a bacterial agent from an alien kills everyone, a bacterial agent from a mean human kills everyone, a synthetic virus from machine people kills everyone, volcanoes destroy cities, earthquakes destroy cities letting out gas clouds which explode killing everyone, large fires started by alien cows burn entire cities, evil robots take over and kill their old masters, nice robots (like Data) try to prevent the evil robots from taking over but can’t, “humans” wake up and realize they are robots and blow everything up,  the Soviets take over and kill everyone but are occasionally resisted by the most patriotic folk (like Texans and the rural rustic), [+innumerable other situation] = doomed cities, wrecked national landmarks, empty streets, crumbling facades…

Richard Powers is the master of depicting doomed cities!


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition of The Wind From Nowhere (1962), J. G. Ballard)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1959 edition of The Tide Went Out (1958), Charles Eric Maine)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1958 edition of 43,000 Years Later (1958), Horace Coon)

(Johnny Bruck’s cover for the 1962 edition of Der Kaiser von New York (1962), W. W. Shols)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition of The Burning World (1964), J. G. Ballard)

(Richard Powers cover for the 1961 edition of So Close to Home (1962), James Blish)

(Robert Fuqua’s cover for the May 1939 issue of Amazing Stories)

(H. W. Wesso’s cover for the February, 1939 issue of Marvel Science Fiction Stories)

For similar posts consult, Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art INDEX

14 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Doomed Cities (post-apocalyptical ruins, war-wrecked landscapes, burning winds)

    • (I’ll answer your Asimov comment in the next few days when I have more time — end of the semester grad paper, grading = frantic rush!)

      Yup, I included that cover in a previous post on Powers so I decided not to use it again. I’ve wanted to track down a copy of the book since I can’t find anything written about it online (I love ranting about bad books — hehe). I guess there’s a reason….

      • I thought I wrote a review of Hero’s Walk but I don’t see it on Amazon, so maybe I just wrote notes or something, notes now lost in some old notebook in our storage unit. It has been years, but I think I can recall the plot and my main criticisms:

        Most of the book consists of scientists sitting in a room talking. A message has arrived from space. Only one of the scientists can understand it, but all the other scientists think he is insane and ignore him. Because the humans do something provocative, the aliens bomb the crap out of the Earth, like in the last 10 pages of the book. The book has what the author considers a happy ending: the aliens are peace-loving, and will teach Earth people how to be peace-loving after they take over the Earth.

        I hated the book partly because it was so boring, chapter after chapter of conversations, and partly because I don’t care for preachy stories in which we are supposed to side with aliens against humanity; in this one the reader is expected to welcome alien conquest!

        The book is not universally hated; in fact, Dorothy J. Heydt calls it one of her favorite books. On Usenet (rec.arts.sf.written) March 6, 2002 she reported that she owns both a hard and softcover of the book, and on April 11, 2002 said that she rereads it “every year or so.”

      • Hmmm, I’ll eventually get to it — maybe.

        Have you read Fritz Lieber’s The Big Time? That entire book is set in one room — I found it very intriguing and it maintained the premise/concept and some interest throughout. It is really hard to pull off.

  1. Re: Fritz Leiber: I have not read The Big Time. For me Leiber is hit or miss; I really like some of the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories, but other of those stories are feeble. I have had the same experience with his other fiction, enjoying the short story “Moon Duel” but finding the highly acclaimed Conjure Wife annoyingly lame and “The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich” totally forgettable.

    Coincidentally I actually picked up a collection of Fritz Leiber work today at the library, thinking to give some more of his non-F&GM short fiction a chance. Maybe I should also give The Big Time a shot.

    • The Big Time feels like an unusual one act play…. I also read The Wanderer (which won the Hugo for Best novel, as did The Big Time) — it was very average but work a read. I’ve only read his sci-fi.

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