Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Scenes from the Control Room

(Malcolm Smith’s cover for the October 1953 issue of Imagination)

Inspired by some of the cover art I found for my earlier post Through the View Screen, Through the Window, I decided to focus on the image of gazing from within the control room of a spaceship (either at objects within or scenes outside the view screens).  The trope is extraordinarily effective at conveying the action of a story: the unfolding canvas of an epic battle, the tension of charting a course through the stars and nefarious nebulae, the destruction of cities, the last glance at a beautiful astronaut adrift, or even, Earth within grasp!

I’ve tried not to be redundant in the covers I use — with this in mind a few more of the same trope can be found in Through the View Screen, Through the Window (along with similar scenes from a terrestrial perspective).  I’ve always had a soft spot for John Berkey’s cover for Robert A. Heinlein’s Starman Jones (1953) — one of my favorite Heinlein juveniles.  The tension is palatable.  The stars through the view screens are important only as manifest on the charts before our hero.  The last cover I’ve selected is one of my favorites from the old pulps.  Dynamism of scene and emotion exudes from the page.  The woman, trapped in space, peers at our hero manning his gun (unseen actions are implied — you will find out only if you OPEN THE MAGAZINE AND READ).


(John Berkey’s cover for the 1967 edition of Starman Jones (1953), Robert A. Heinlein)

(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1971 edition of Rockets in Ursa Major (1971), Fred Hoyle)

(William Timmins’ cover for the August 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction)

(Robert Gibson Jones’ cover for the September 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction)

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

(Ed Emswiller’s cover for the 1959 edition of Recruit for Andromeda (1959), Milton Lesser)

(Ron Turner’s cover for the 1951 edition of The Petrified Planet (1951), Vargo Statten (i.e. John Russell Fearn))

(Walter Popp’s cover for the Spring 1954 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories)

For similar posts consult the cover art INDEX.

10 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Scenes from the Control Room

  1. Ok, I’ve been inspired. I am now going to seek out a collection of old sci-fi magazines and purchase them. They might sit on my shelf for years, they might get read thuroughly, but the will be mine!

  2. Yes! Starman Jones (definitely the best Heinlein juvenile!) is a remarkable cover – it is one of the few that seems to understand the nuance of controls, humans, and the mechanism of a rocket ship…
    thanks for another great selection of sci-fi art pieces. It would certainly be nice if they were issued as posters too… have you looked into sci-fi posters yet… perhaps for movies?

  3. I thought the Valigursky cover was uncharacteristically good. Then, while looking at it more closely, I realized it was actually the work of Emsh…

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