Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: On the Cross and Other Prophetic Imagery

Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 1.36.13 PM(Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1977 edition of The Gameplayers of Zan (1977), M. A. Foster)

On the cross, a future prophet (or false one)?  A martyr for a lost cause?  Or, some future priestly emissary of the Catholic church dispensing law on those gathered…. Perhaps some transformation of man to a godly state all hallowed and arrayed with religious accouterments of faith?  I’ve gathered a fun collection of science fiction prophets mostly decked out / depicted in distinctly Christian style.  

My favorite is Robert Foster’s cover for the 1970 edition of Behold the Man (1969) by Michael Moorcock…. And Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1970 edition of This Immortal (variant title: And Call Me Conrad) (1965) contains a fascinating color scheme — although there isn’t any mold on the figure’s face as Zelazny uncharacteristically depicts his main character… alas… I am unsure whether James Park Sloan’s The Case History of Comrade V. (1978) is a work of speculative or science fiction. Forgive me if it isn’t – -regardless, its uncredited cover is intriguing as well.

As always, are the books themselves worth reading?  In this case I’ve read a good number of them…. I found Silverberg’s The Masks of Time (1968) above average; Zelazny’s This Immortal (1970), a classic of the highest caliber; Malzberg’s Revelations (1972) a masterpiece; VALIS (1981) was one of PKD’s weaker work; Lester del Rey’s The Eleventh Commandment (1962) was memorable in parts; and PKD’s A Maze of Death (1970) in the second tier of his novels (highly readable regardless)….

Enjoy! (as with many recent posts I have multiple images waiting for a part II).


(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1968 edition of The Masks of Time (1968), Robert Silverberg)BHLDTMN1970

(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1970 edition of Behold the Man (1969), Michael Moorcock)


(Bill Hughes’ cover for the 1971 edition of Act of God (1951), Richard Ashby)MNLKGDSKLK1970

(Bill Hughes’ cover for the 1970 edition of Men Like Gods (1923), H. G. Wells)


(Paul Stinson’s cover for the 1979 edition of Jesus on Mars (1979), Philip José Farmer)MZFDTHFRKX1984

(Tim Gill’s cover for the 1984 edition of A Maze of Death (1970), Philip K. Dick)

(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition of Revelations (1972), Barry N. Malzberg)Screen shot 2012-05-26 at 7.22.32 PM(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition of The Case History of Comrade V. (1978), James Park Sloan)


(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1970 edition of This Immortal (variant title: And Call Me Conrad) (1965), Roger Zelazny)Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 1.42.34 PM

(Stephen Hickman’s cover for the 1970s (?) edition of The Brain-Brain Stealers (1954), Murray Leinster)Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 1.55.03 PM

(Charles Moll’s cover for the 1974 edition of Adam Link – Robot (1965), Eando Binder)

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 4.09.37 PM

(Uncredited cover for the 1981 edition of VALIS (1981), Philip K. Dick)


(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1976 edition of The Eleventh Commandment (1962), Lester del Rey)

WZRDNHRT1973(Chris Achilleos’ cover for the 1973 edition of The Wizard of Anharitte (1972), Colin Kapp)

For similar posts consult the INDEX

20 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: On the Cross and Other Prophetic Imagery

  1. Nice selection; of course, my fave is the Morrow art for This Immortal but most of them are pretty good. I’d forgotten that it was the same story as “And Call Me Conrad;” I just picked up a couple issues of F&SF that serialized that, a lot that also included the Ifs that serialized The Wizard of Anharitte. What a coincidence.

    Honestly? The only ones I’ve read have been some of the Adam Link stories, the first one being “I, Robot;” I think it was Gnome Press that made off with that title for the more famous Asimov collection. I own both the PKD’s but haven’t had much incentive to read them (not as much of a fan of his later works as his ’60s stuff).

    • I prefer PKD’s 60s novels as well — although, I think I liked A Maze of Death more than I let on… A deeply disturbing work for sure. I don’t remember much from VALIS.

      Thankfully my edition of This Immortal has a stunning Powers’ cover…

      Perhaps the first Powers’ cover I have ever owned.

      Yeah, I’ve heard of the Adam Link stories but all the editions i’ve found in the stores have some of the lamest covers…. I didn’t realize that they were historically important to the genre. Hmmm.

      • The first Adam Link story was an interesting role reversal—sentient robot trying to be human, that whole thing. Pretty soon they became pulp sensationalism… Adam Link and his Robot Army versus the Buffalo Men of Jupiter by the end. (No, seriously,)

        The Powers cover is definitely a winner.

        VALIS, I know it’s pretty trippy since Dick was in the middle of his Exegesis period. That alone makes me hesitate.

  2. Great selection,great site,Behold The Man is excellent, well worth the read & quite short . I agree completely with you on Valis by P.K.D, found it almost impossible to read & I’m a massive fan of most of his stuff. Can u recommend a site where i could purchase some of the books you review here ?
    i prefer to buy the older versions as opposed to paying through the teeth on Amazon , there was 1 second hand book shop where i live & i bought almost everything sci fi there

    • Hmm…. I buy them mostly at used book stores across the country (I visit multiple states through the course of the year) and recently, sci-fi lots on ebay. Which can be frustrating due to the fact you end up getting some novels you don’t want we well. I also use (because the sellers can set their own shipping costs — so I often get paperbacks for around 3 bucks)….. But they’re owned by amazon as well — but obviously benefit the small seller.

      I used to have a great online source — a book collector out of Lubbock, TX who sold all the duplicates of his massive 25,000+ collection. For DIRT cheap — but he passed away a few months back. At the moment I have around 200 unread sci-fi novels so I haven’t been acquiring too many. But, I might make a trip to the ultra famous book store, The Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor eventually and stockpile.

      • Thanks bud, just checkin ebay here now & i think i might have lucked out actually!! i saw before that you said you had used Marxbooks also, would u recommend it ? Your site is fantastic, the exact sort of site i was looking for but could never seemed to find, I have at 30 books on my to-get list since i discovered it last week, Im just reading the Sci FI Masterworks Stand on Zanzibar for the first time now, started it today, was in my to-read list until i saw your glowing recommendation, thanks keep up the good work

      • I was referring to Marx books in the above comment — the owner passed away, the best / cheapest sci-fi book selling site is no more unfortunately….

        Thanks for the kind words! I love Stand on Zanzibar — definitely a challenging read but a great book.

      • Been to The Dawn Treader once… it was so hard to pull myself out of there! But I’ve found that Patten Books in St. Louis is almost as good, and if you’re ever in St. Louis on a weekend, Dunaway Books has a Sat/Sun 3 for 2 sci-fi sale. Lately their PB selection has shrunk a but, but they have a bunch of good 50’s hardcovers. Prices in store are cheaper than the prices at their online site.

        • Yes, Dawn Treader is one of the best book stores I have ever been to. I purchased books ONLY from the ‘A’ and ‘B’s last names in the sci-fi section. It was incredibly overwhelming. Like climbing into a library devouring whale…. I drive through St. Louis on my way home every 5 or 6 months — I should plan my trip accordingly.

  3. “Behold The Man” is one of my favorite novels. It is a highly philosophical novel, with well thought out insight into both the Christian and Jewish faiths. I never re-read books, yet I would like to read this one again. I’d highly recommend it.

  4. I think I have to proclaim The Case History of Comrade V. as the winner of 1970s cover art. I’m not sure what could top it.

    Well, I did have this late-70s book about Computer Crimes that showed a reel-to-reel computer with a six-shooter poking out of the center. That might match the general greatness.

      • I read Case History of Comrade V like ten or more years ago. I remember liking it, but don’t recall the details.

        It is more of a literary novel than a science-fiction novel. It is one of those things in which the reader is not sure if it is the testimony of a man imprisoned in a totalitarian state, or the delusions of an insane man, or whatever. It reminded me a little of those Nabokov stories in which the story of a man riding on a bus turns out to be the fantasies of a second man who is idly observing the first man and trying to guess where the first man is from and where he is taking the bus etc.

      • Hmm… I do love Nabokov — I’ve read a majority of his novels, but not his short stories — I’ve read: The Defense, Glory, Lolita, Transparent Things, Laughter in the Dark, Invitation to a Beheading, and Bend Sinister…

  5. A very nice feast of eye candy covers.Really like that Powers cover;he is really is a unique sort of creature.His work looks like Tanguy’s,but made his voice or face distinctly his own.

    As I’ve said before,”The Masks of Time” I found to be an excellent novel.Perhaps not as powerful as some of his others thematically,but was very smooth and pristine,with a very fresh approach to traditional sf themes.I think that Bob Silverberg is a better writer than Michael Moorcock,despite dealing in more radical themes such as in “Behold the Man”,which is a heartfelt work however.

    “Jesus on Mars” I don’t really remember anything about,but know I didn’t like it very much,was glad when I finished it,and wonder how I did.I read over thirty books by Farmer,despite a less than sterling track record,but only two by Wells,although not the one above.His granite style didn’t appeal to me.Don’t really like that cover.

    “Valis” is a difficult book of what I call genius angst,but was flawed.In some quarters it’s reckoned as being Dick’s best novel,but think it’s a weak link in what is probably the most unified block of excellent novels in sf.”A Maze of Death” was brilliant however;not perfect,but brilliant.The basic foundations of it alone are significant,without considering it’s inventive formulae and thematic concerns.Reading his stuff at about 15,let alone “Valis”,seems to have been a bit young.I didn’t until I was 21,and don’t think I could have coped with him at 18.

    “This Immortal” was quite good I suppose,and better than “Lord of Light,but as I’ve said before,I’d liked to have read the shorter version,aka “And Call Me Conrad”,which was probably better in this form.

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