(Virgil Finlay’s cover for the April 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe, ed. Hans Stefan Santesson)
At first glance this is a miscellaneous collection of covers on diagrammatic wonders — the aliens (or “advanced” humans) on Virgil Finlay’s cover for the April 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe conjure an image of earth with colored sand, generals plot invasions via maps and other diagrams depicting troop movements….
While some of the covers are themselves diagrams (Christopher Zacharow’s cover for the 1985 edition of Ancient of Days (1985), Michael Bishop) others place their characters in opposition to each other as pieces of a diagram (Ric Binkley’s cover for the 1957 edition of Solomon’s Stone by L. Sprague de Camp). A few relate the movement of the stories via arrows on a map — raiders sweeping in from the rings or a forecast of an alien invasion.
A few, and I find them the most intriguing, diagram more esoteric movements (mental conceptual, technological). For example, Murray Tinkelman’s cover for the 1955 edition of This Fortress World (1955), James Gunn has a series of hands holding flat ovals that morph into the sphere of the world… Daniel Schwartz’s cover for the 1954 edition of Wild Talent (1953), Wilson Tucker duplicates a character’s visage in silhouette, and, implies a movement of mind?
What are your favorites?
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the June 1960 issue of Galaxy Magazine, ed. H. L. Gold)
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1957 edition of Across Time (1957), Donald A. Wollheim)
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Stories, ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes)
(Christopher Zacharow’s cover for the 1985 edition of Ancient of Days (1985), Michael Bishop)
(Mel Hunter’s cover for the 1962 edition of Raiders from the Rings (1962), Alan E. Nourse)
(William Timmins’ cover for the June 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.)
(Ric Binkley’s cover for the 1954 edition of Forgotten Planet (1954), Murray Leinster)
(Murray Tinkelman’s cover for the 1955 edition of This Fortress World (1955), James Gunn)
(Ric Binkley’s cover for the 1957 edition of Solomon’s Stone (magazine publication 1942), L. Sprague de Camp)
(Daniel Schwartz’s cover for the 1954 edition of Wild Talent (1953), Wilson Tucker)
For similar posts consult the INDEX
21 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Diagrammatic Wonders (alien sand art + planning invasions + and other more mysterious formulations), Part I”
These are gorgeous. I particularly like he Solomon Stone. I was having a discussion recently about covert art- I am a fan of the pulp covers. I would like to see this style again.
Thanks! I have many many many more thematic posts on the subject if you’re curious (here). I prefer the art from the next few decades over the pulp covers (so the 60s/70s — Powers, Lehr, and the like).
Hi Joachim — love reading your posts. Lots of nostalgia, not to mention classic scifi books that I find that I have not yet read. Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words. I do think that cover art is a very effective way to get people reading the old classics again… Or at least interested in SF more generally.
I’ve always wondered if Virgil Finlay was influenced by some of Salvador Dali’s art – the extreme forced perspective, the abstract objects in the distance on a desert landscape…
I wouldn’t doubt it! His art is strange, it verges from simplistic pulp to pulp mixed with an intriguing dose of surrealism — like this one.
Always inspiring to look at your posts. Curious about a title referred to on the GALAXY magazine cover: GRAVY PLANET… I live in Toronto, if you’ve been following the story of our delinquent mayor, you can see how that might have some resonance with me.
Thanks for the kind words! Ah, Gravy Planet (written with C. M. Kornbluth) was the title under which The Space Merchants was originally serialized.
I had no idea that was the Space Merchants either. I listened to hat radio drama a while back. Haven’t read it though.
It’s great! C. M. Kornbluth and Pohl at their best…
Any honest cover of Forgotten Planet would show a guy fighting giant insects.
I’d be interested to read de Camp’s article on psychic powers; one of the things de Camp tried to do was to write thrilling sword-fighting adventure stories like those of Burroughs, but more “realistic.” In my experience his adventure stories were certainly more realistic than ERB’s, but also less thrilling. Presumably in the article he points out that psychic powers are the least believable of the tools found in the standard issue SF writer’s tool kit.
Even though one hears it about it unceasingly, I had never realized The Space Merchants was originally titled Gravy Planet.
Haha. Definitely — there are some good ones along those lines… http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/5/53/FRGTTNP1961.jpg
I’ve yet to read any of de Camp’s work — no fan of sword-fighting Fantasy (as you know).
The Ed Emshwiller cover is gorgeous. One I would buy for the cover alone.
Which one? There are three Emshwiller covers — he must have loved the SF diagram theme 😉
Oops…the redhead on Original Science Fiction. That one caught my eye and I didn’t even look at the artists names on the others.
I enjoy that one as well. Although, I think Murray Tinkelman’s cover for James Gunn’s This Fortress World is the best — perhaps only because of the mysterious movement of the hand, what exactly the diagram implies is left to our imagination…
My enjoyment is much more shallow…I’m very partial to redheads. 🙂
Hahaha! Well she certainly isn’t your normal damsel in distress….
Hello, great stuff. I have some of the original sci-fi cover art from Ric Binkley.They were given to my mom by his sister. If you are interested in seeing the pictures, email me and I’ll send you them.
Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to see the images.
Here’s my email: ciceroplatobooks (a) gmail (dot) com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Joachim, I was wondering if you saw the email I sent you. As mentioned in the email, there’s a great painting of a man cutting off a robot’s arm with a laser whip, but I haven’t been able to find any info on this painting. If you have seen it, I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks, Tom