Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Domed Cities (and Outposts) of the Future, Part IV

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(Ley Kenyon’s cover for the 1953 edition of Adventures in Tomorrow (1951), ed. Kendell F. Crossen)

Since the release of the TV series Under the Dome (2013-), based on Stephen King’s 2009 novel by the same name, there has been a resurgence of interest in domed cities.  And for good reason — the trope is one of the most popular of science fiction artists and authors since the 30s (and probably earlier).  Not only do the societal implications and visual allure of the trope of a domed outpost on a harsh planet or a domed city amidst the ruins of Earth arouse the creative authorial juices but also generate some fantastically seductive material for the cover artist.

Over the last few years I have cobbled together a vast variety of images on the trope (with more waiting for later posts) — feel free to check out the other parts if you haven’t already — Part IPart IIPart III.

A few things I enjoy about domed cities:

1) Physically moving past an all-encompassing dome heightens the impact of “breaking out” of a repressed world….

2) The presence of a translucent dome magnifies the harsh nature of the surrounding environment.  The inhabitants have to live behind the wall in order to survive….  And, one is constantly reminded of the environment outside.

3) The dome is downright futuristic looking…  The towers of the city rise behind the sheen of the translucent material.  The polluted world, wrecked and abandoned, is visible in all directions.  The city becomes a beacon of human ingenuity and simultaneously a symbol of the destruction caused by earlier urban endeavors.

4) The idea of people living behind a dome, perhaps oblivious to the world around them, is profoundly unsettling.

Of this bunch, my favorite is Ley Kenyon’s cover for the 1953 edition of Adventures in Tomorrow (1951) with Stanley Pitt’s rather stylized cover for the 1954 issue of American Science Fiction Magazine (#29) a close second.

What are your favorites?  Why do you like domed cities?



(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition of The Santaroga Barrier (1967), Frank Herbert)

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(Davis’ cover for the February 1954 issue of Authentic Science Fiction Monthly)


(Uncredited cover for the 70s? issue of Assignment in Eternity (1953), Robert A. Heinlein)


(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the May 1956 issue of Science Fiction Stories)

SDSFCHNGE1975(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1975 edition of Seeds of Change (1975), Thomas F. Monteleone)

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(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1972 edition of Alph (variant title: World Without Men) (1958), Charles Eric Maine)Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 12.47.15 PM

(Frank R. Paul’s cover for the March 1939 issue of Science Fiction)

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(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the May 1957 issue of Science Fiction Stories)

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(Stanley Pitt’s cover for the # 29 issue 1954 of American Science Fiction Magazine)CTCMBYRS5E1979

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1979 edition of Catacomb Years (1979), Michael Bishop)

(Davis’ cover for the January 1955 issue of Authentic Science Fiction Monthly)


(Ric Binkley’s cover for the 1953 edition of Assignment in Eternity (1953), Robert A. Heinlein)


(Phil Berry’s cover for the February 1959 issue of Amazing Science Fiction Stories)AMAZDEC1966

(Frank R. Paul’s cover for the December 1966 issue of Amazing Stories)

For more book reviews consult the INDEX

12 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Domed Cities (and Outposts) of the Future, Part IV

  1. That is a nice collection! I’ve always liked domed cities because they are so other-worldly. They’re a stark reminder that you’re far from home.

  2. Geodesic dome homes were popular during the back-to-the-land movement of the late 1960s and early ’70s. A problem that their owners quickly discovered was that domes both amplify sounds and bounce them around. A little kid going tinkle in the middle of the night could be heard, loudly, everywhere in the home. Imagine what would happen to all the noises in a domed city! It would be like living in a giant bell. Yikes.

    • I wonder if any sci-fi novel discusses the noise issue… But then again, they could have in the ones I read but I wasn’t looking for it. I bet the author would simply say, “well the dome is made from a mysterious noise absorbing material” 😉 haha

  3. My favorite SF sub genre is easily post apocalyptic, so the domed city is near and dear. In PA the dome can be many things: protective bubble, secure vault, inescapable prison or alien civilization. The best, it can be used for all of those and more in the same setting.

    • Thanks for visiting!

      Well, I have tens and tens more waiting for later parts — Cities in Flight covers included…. This is not meant to be an inclusive list but rather a thematic sequence of posts which I space out.

      Never cared for the novels (or rather, was never blown away)…. I have reviewed a few of them on this site though.

  4. As Eugene just said over at Beamer Books, “YMMV.” Cities in Flight! The End of All! Creating Your Own Universe! These books did books did blow teh young me away.

    • What does YMMV even mean…..?

      I prefer Blish’s more mature work — A Case of Conscience for example. Look, they were fun, but, other works from that era proved much more inspiring for me as a kid.

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