Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Ice-Covered Cities

(Uncredited cover for the 1959 edition of We Who Survived (1959), Sterling Noel)

One of many ways science fiction authors speculate about the end (or beginning of the end/or an apocalyptic hurdle) of the human race is the coming of an Ice Age.  Such an occurrence (induced by us or the arrival of a natural cycle) would cover our cities with layers of ice — conjure the disturbing images from Gilliam’s film 12 Monkeys (1985) or Roland Emmerich’s egregious The Day After Tomorrow (2004) — forcing us to evacuate to the more inhabitable zones.  Those left behind might eek out an existence, revert to a primitive state, or die out completely…

I have a review for John Christopher’s The Long Winter (1962) in the works — the only science fiction work of this theme I’ve read so far.  If you’ve read any of the others I’m intensely curious if they’re worth reading.  The covers I’ve discovered attempt with various degrees of success to evoke humanity’s despair, the loss of civilization, a bleak emptiness…  I found Dean Ellis’s work the best at evoking the sheer spectacle of an ice draped city.


(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition of The Long Winter (1962), John Christopher)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1972 edition of Universe 2 (1972), edited by Terry Carr)

(Ralph Brillhart’s cover for the 1963 edition of The Day the Earth Froze (1963), Gerald Hatch)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1980 edition of The Time of the Great Freeze (1964), Robert Silverberg)

(Thomas Kidd’s cover for the 1988 edition of The Time of the Great Freeze (1964), Robert Silverberg)

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10 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Ice-Covered Cities

  1. We Who Survived is not great science fiction, but it is fun entertainment. It’s a fairly simple action adventure, with basically no effort at plausibility. It reminds me of L. Sprague de Camp and less complex van Vogt.

    Great covers!

  2. Pingback: SF Tidbits for 6/11/12 - SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog

  3. I really like Alexander’s cover for the Silverberg book. I’ll have to add that one to my list of books to keep an eye out for. I particularly like winter scenes in art, I think because I grew up in northeast Nebraska and we had “real” winters in those days. Blizzards and the like. I get very nostalgic in winter and I like the snow. I like it to end, eventually, but winter never seems quite right without snow. So whenever I see art with a winter theme I am drawn to it. I’m also really fond of playing video games that have winter settings in their somewhere, the most recent being Skyrim.

    • I wanted to play Skyrim, but, there’s no Mac version…. I enjoy the Silverberg cover but isn’t my favorite of the bunch. I’ve only had Virginia winters (24 or so inches of snow), central Texas winters (no snow — well, a sprinkle every five years) and Indiana (14 or so where I live a year). So, no “real winters.”

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