(Ray Kalfus’ cover for the May 1963 issue of Amazing Stories)
The Easter Island heads have long been explained away by conspiracy theorists as the work of aliens! Apparently there are a few short stories and novels that derive not only their cover art but entire stories from such hilariously awful material…. Regardless, the covers are giggle inducing, and in the case of the uncredited cover for William Tenn’s Of All Possible Worlds (1955) rather striking. I’ve included one cover from the 40s, an Arkham house novel that might be more “horror” than “sci-fi.” Regardless, the idea that the Easter Island heads evoke dread, is well, laughable.
If you know of any others please let me know — I could only round up these five covers….
Enjoy! + laugh a bit….
And perhaps listen to the capella band Throat Culture‘s ‘Easter Island Head‘ in “honor” of such art.
(Uncredited cover for the 1963 edition of Of All Possible Worlds (1955), William Tenn)
(Rick Sternbach’s cover for the 1986 edition of Shuttle Down (magazine 1980), Lee Correy)
(same cover appears on the Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact December 1980 issue)
(Bill Schmidt’s cover for the 1981 edition of Shuttle Down (1980), Lee Correy)
(Audrey Johnson’s cover for the 1948 edition of The Web of Easter Island (1948), Donald Wandrei)
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11 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Easter Island Heads”
And perhaps watch the Easter Island episode of Rex the Runt? There are aliens…
I’ve never heard of Rex the Runt… but, just looked him up — haha.
There is the Fate magazine from 1959 as well as all sorts of comics from the 50’s – 70’s which used this same theme. Justice League, Hulk, Tales to Astonish, House of Mystery. It has been a popular topic for fantasy fiction.
Well, at least in more “serious” sci-fi perhaps not so much…. found very very few covers besides these.
I have one of the largest pulp and paperback collections here, but going through it all looking for that would be a lot of work. I’m sure it turns up more often than we think. Folklore and Mythology come up quite often in fantasy and science fiction writing.
Well, I know very little about comics of any sort or pre-1940 sci-fi — but, I’ve looked through the entire catalogues of all the major sci-fi publishers, Dell, Ballantine, Avon, Manor Books, Pocket Books, etc and these are the only covers I found (perhaps there are more) — obviously, many stories might contain Easter Island heads which aren’t shown on the covers 😉
I read Shuttle Down when it was serialized in Analog. Lots of detail about the workings of the shuttle, but besides that I don’t remember much about it! “Lee Corey” is a pen name for G Harry Stine.
How did the Easter Island heads feature into the plot?
Sorry to say that I barely remember! Something having to do with time travel – the shuttle returns back to the time when the heads were being carved – and then takes off and returns back to the present. I’d say 90% of the story was ‘hard science’ on how the shuttle works. I remember reading it between classes during high school, and not being impressed. The details are getting hazy on that one. I might even still have those old issues somewhere!
As an archaeologist, i’ve always been amused at the conspiracy explanations for past civilization. These are great!
and the Babylon Batteries…. hahaha