Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Spacewomen of the Future (flying spaceships + exploring alien landscapes + delivering galactic mail), Part II


(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the February 1953 issue of Space Stories, ed. Samuel Mines)

Part II of my Spacewomen of the Future series — Part I.

In my first installment I discussed the stereotype of the 40s/50s SF pulp heroine — for example, she shrieks at the evil alien while the man has to rescue her or despite her education, she spends her time serving the men coffee on the spaceship (there’s a cringeworthy scene along these lines in It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), dir. Edward L. Cahn).  Hopefully these cover art depictions will complicate the stereotype.  Of course, I have not read all the contents of magazines/novels bellow so I can not speak for the portrayals within the texts.  In the stories they could potentially be astronauts in the service, scientists, civilian love interests, colonists, partners of the male astronauts, etc…

I have somewhat arbitrarily decided for thematic reasons that “Spacewomen”  is a woman in a space uniform of the future or space suit.  Considering how much SF from the era I’ve read where there are explicitly NO women in the service, Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the June 1954 issue of Future Science Fiction and the February 1953 issue of Space Stories where the women are clearly in the same uniforms as the men in control rooms/exploring planets is refreshing.

Likewise, in Robert Gibson Jones’ cover for the August 1951 issue of Amazing Stories and Rudolph Belarski’s cover for the January 1942 issue of Starling Stories women are actively participating in defeating enemies by flying the spacecraft — i.e. not shrieking etc….  I have many more examples along these lines in Part I.

What are your favorites?



(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the June 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe, ed. Leo Margulies)


(Robert Gibson Jones’ cover for the August 1951 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Howard Browne)


(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the June 1954 issue of Future Science Fiction, ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes)


(Brian Lewis’ cover for the April 1958 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction, ed. John Carnell)


(Ed Emswhiller’s cover for the March 1957 issue of Science Fiction Stories, ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes)

Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 12.48.54 PM

(Leo Morey’s cover for the January 1941 issue of Super Science Stories, ed. Frederik Pohl)

Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 12.49.06 PM

(Leo Morey’s cover for the May 1941 issue of Super Science Stories, ed. Frederik Pohl)

Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 12.49.36 PM

(Earle Bergley’s cover for the August 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, ed. Sam Merwin, Jr.)

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 8.49.07 AM

(Walter Hortens’ cover for the February 1965 issue of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact, ed. John W. Campbell Jr.)


(H. W. Perl’s amateur cover for the No. 1 1946 issue of Futuristic Stories, ed. Dennis H. Pratt)

Screen shot 2012-11-11 at 8.25.41 PM

(Alvaro’s cover for the 1962 edition of The Voice From Baru (1962), Tom Wade)

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(Nicholas Solovioff’s cover for the March 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Anthony Boucher)

(Uncredited cover for the 1977 edition of The Men in the Jungle (1967), Norman Spinrad)

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(Rudolph Belarski’s cover for the January 1942 issue of Starling Stories, ed. Oscar J. Friend)

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(Milton Luros’ cover for the November 1950 issue of Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories, ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes)


(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1960 edition of The Secret Martians (1960), Jack Sharkey)


(H. R. Van Dongen’s cover for the Vol. 2 No. 1 1953 issue of Space Science Fiction, ed. Lester DEl Rey)


(Ed Emswhiller’s cover for the August 1959 issue of Super-Science Fiction, ed. W. W. Scott)


(Uncredited cover for the 1953 edition of Venusian Adventure (1953), E. C. Tubb)


(Hannes Bok’s cover for the August 1951 issue of Marvel Science Fiction, Robert O. Erisman)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1982 edition of The Divine Invasion (1981), Philip K. Dick)

For similar posts consult the INDEX

23 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Spacewomen of the Future (flying spaceships + exploring alien landscapes + delivering galactic mail), Part II

  1. Joachim, The evolution of the depiction of women in SF is interesting, and as complicated and cliche-bound as that of men in periodicals and books aimed at female readers [I don`t know many men like the love interests in romance novels, be they the dashing lords of the manor or the buff bad boy bikers with soulful eyes on countless Kindle originals]. Today you find female depictions just as unrealistic as those of the 40s-50s sf covers, but they`re carrying weapons so that makes it okay.

    • I’m still trying to figure out the perspective on the 1955 S&SF cover. Is she looking down a hill? Or, is she really huge and the shapes below really small. It doesn’t feel like there’s a real cliff! But yes, I love that cover as well.

      • Hmm. I don’t see it as anything but her looking back down from a great height – from a much higher version of one of the cones dotting the plain. But notice that they’re all blunt-tipped cones.So, if I’m looking down at her from the very top, and she’s nearing the top, she’s already on a surface that curves in toward me. I can’t see the sides of our cone from my angle. Just the curved surface of its blunt tip.

        Nice save? 😀

      • Hahaha, yeah, guess I’m just not seeing any real lip/edge of the surface she’s on. Regardless, it’s a really cool illustration and the image I used on my blog related twitter a while back….

    • Yeah, but, unfortunately current covers haven’t moved away from that either…. And of course, I didn’t show the millions of covers that depict the traditional stereotype I mentioned in the post text.

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  2. I pity anyone who bought The Men In The Jungle based on that exciting cover, thinking it was a straight, sincere, thrilling adventure story.

    The Avon 1969 cover is a much more accurate depiction of the book’s tone.

      • Googling around will quickly present you with reviews that explain what Men in the Jungle is all about, and why the reviewers think it is great.

        It has been a long time since I read it, but in my own words, Men in the Jungle is an absurdist satire of adventure stories, page after page of blood, torture, mass murder, cannibalism, etc, Spinrad apparently suggesting that people who write adventure stories and people who enjoy them are fascists and/or sadists. I guess it is also an attack on imperialism and US Cold War foreign policy. In my opinion it is too long and too over the top, with too weak a plot, to enjoy.

        I liked Spinrad’s Void Captain’s Tale, because it was about people in a strange environment. I started Child of Fortune but it seemed like a boring utopia, so I gave up quickly.

      • Maybe Men in the Jungle is good at what it is trying to do, and I’m just not interested in polemics, absurdist humor, referential humor or satire any more. For example, when I was younger I laughed at “Monty Python,” “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” etc., now I just find those shows irritating or boring. Maybe I’m an old curmedgeon. I still have some sense of humor, though, I still find old Tom and Jerry cartoons, P.G. Wodehouse, the Tony Randall “Odd Couple,” Tony Millionaire’s “Maakies,” and “I Love Lucy” funny.

  3. I love the one where the two men are fighting and the woman is loading her space gun. And also the one where she’s got an unconscious man slung over her shoulders. Those are the kind of women I want to read about.

    • Couldn’t agree more — but, how the characters are written in the actual story might (and often is) completely different than how their are drawn. I have noticed that Ed Emshwiller really likes to draw spacewomen…. hmm…

  4. Interesting collection of artwork. The Saturnalia cover looks like it could be a for a futuristic version of a James M. Cain novel. The New Worlds #70 cover is interesting – just a woman astronaut relaxing after a mission, with all her kit strewn round. The Feb. 1965 cover has a really odd sexual vibe to it.

    The robots on the Perl cover for Futuristic Stories look much like the ones on the June 1954 cover of Imagination, one of the grimmer examples of robotic overthrow:

    • My favorite spacewomen covers are from New Worlds and Galaxy — Part I (perhaps you remember) had some great covers of women fixing spaceships….

      Yeah, the woman (dressed) walking into a room with two topless men… She does seem to be a member of the crew (her outfit) and I guess works in mail delivery like they do. I sort of want to read the story….

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