Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Futuristic Telescopes and Radar Dishes


(Brian Lewis’ cover for the July 1960 edition of New Worlds Science Fiction)

Brian Lewis’ fantastic cover for the July 1960 edition of New Worlds Science Fiction (if there’s a single magazine I desperately want to collect it’s this one…) depicts a futuristic radar dish (alien or human?) with a surrealist touch.  I’ve included a wide range of different SF takes on radar dishes and telescopes – including what I assume is a Hubble-like space telescope on A. Leslie Ross’ cover for the July 1952 issue of Future Science Fiction.  But there’s a chance that Ross’ telescope is on the Earth’s surface — the cluttered, confused, and rather hasty cover is rather hard to figure out (evil string creatures?).

The futuristic telescope (or radar dish) is a tantalizing image of humankind peering at the worlds beyond his own — either looking for astronomical features or listening for messages from space.

I’ve tried to avoid large guns that look like telescopes but, not having read all the stories in these issues, it’s often hard to tell whether the objects are for blasting alien spaceships or observing the stars.  A few covers might have contraptions that are for an altogether different purpose….

What are your favorites?

You’re welcome to provide covers that I might have missed — I scoured my image collection and don’t seem to have any more on the theme at the moment.

Fut52-07(A. Leslie Ross’ cover for the July 1952 issue of Future Science Fiction)


(Brian Lewis’ cover for the October 1951 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction)


(James Stark’s cover for the May 1957 issue of Nebula Science Fiction)

Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 12.44.02 PM

(Frank R. Paul’s cover for the January 1941 issue of Comet)


(Sidney Solomon’s cover for the 1950 edition of The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1950, ed. Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty)


(Hubert Roger’s cover for the September 1941 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction)ASF_0185(William Timmins’ cover for the April 1946 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition of The Listeners (1968), James E. Gunn)


(Rick Binkley’s cover for the 1958 edition of Fire in the Heavens (1949), George O. Smith)

(Uncredited cover for the Orbit No. 2 issue (1953), ed. Jules Saltman)

(Curt Caesar’s cover for the Time Trap (1949), Rog Phillips)

VRYSLWTM19XX(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition of The Very Slow Time Machine (1979), Ian Watson)

For similar posts consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Futuristic Telescopes and Radar Dishes

  1. I’m pretty sure that’s the 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar on Ross’ 1952 Future cover, though it appears it was somehow taken to outer space, along with Manhattan (Stith), the SS Cotopaxi (Spieberg), etc. Will aliens ever stop snatching all our big stuff?

    • Haha, yeah, I thought it was in space as well. But, then there’s a sort of line on the bottom that indicates the ground? And a vague figure on a lump on the line to the bottom right? It’s an inarticulate cover for sure.

      • Ah yes, I see that now, though I had to really zoom in to make it out. Kind of looks like a spaceman with a blaster rifle, surrounded by a (painful?) energy field, and standing on the conning tower of a submarine. Maybe there’s a sub in the story … a futuristic sub, judging by the tail end of the thing (above Leslie’s signature). But I dunno. I’m so confused.

  2. Joachim, There is something so very basic to SF in that cover for `Nightfall.` The image of the dome opening to allow the telescope access to the starry sky has been done countless times because it touches the kid in us who likes big gun-like devices, even if they`re not guns. In another vein, I love the cover by Whelan for Clarke`s SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH. It captures the book`s tone beautifully [even, as Whelan in his comments on it in one of his collections, the radio telescope on the cover is inaccurate].

    • I couldn’t agree more about the September 1941 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction… There’s something so tangible and wonderful about a telescope peering into the stars. Rogers adeptly transforms the telescope into something futuristic and awe-inspiring.

  3. Here’s Powers’ cover for Hoyle and Elliot’s A for Andromeda. I believe that’s his interpretation of “a new kind of radio telescope” on the right (with the Cyclops life form on the left, and the Andromeda clone in the center).

      • Well, the thing on the right might also be the supercomputer in the story, but its shape and upward thrust toward Andromeda (the pink glow above the word “for” in the title) seems more suggestive of a searching / receiving device. I guess all that can be said with certainty is that it represents something in the story, given how the other elements on the cover very clearly represent things in the story.

  4. Some excellent cover art here, just posted one on my blog which features a radar dish on top of a giant robot tank. I do love these themed cover collections Joachim. Thanks for sharing as ever.

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