(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968), John Sladek)
It has been too long since I collated a cover art post… I have a love hate relationship with Josh Kirby’s work. He tends to be on the comedic side, for example, he provided covers for a large percentage of Ron Goulart’s DAW titles (The Wicked Cyborg, etc) and Prachett’s Discworld novels.
However, for a brief window of time in the 60s and 70s he produced some gorgeously surreal depictions of astronauts and and astronaut transformations. His cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968) by John Sladek is easily one of my favorite SF covers. Unfortunately, none of the others really match its sheer brilliance, the fantastic colors/angles of the earth, the dark background framing the astronaut walking across the surface with a strange growth reaching in the background….
What are your favorites?
For more cover art posts consult the INDEX
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964), ed. Damon Knight)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1968 edition of New Writings in S.F.-13 (1968), ed. John Carnell)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1973 edition of Victory on Janus (1966), Andre Norton)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of SF The Best of the Best Part Two (1970), ed. Judith Merril)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1973 edition of Tomorrow Lies in Ambush (1973), Bob Shaw)(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1976 edition of Benedict’s Planet (1976), James Corley)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1957 edition of Return to Tomorrow (1954), L. Ron Hubbard)
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1967 edition of New Writings in S.F.-13 (1967), ed. John Carnell)(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1976 edition of The Book of Philip José Farmer (1973), Philip José Farmer)
10 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Josh Kirby’s Astronauts (1957-1976)”
I bought the original Gollancz version of the Reproductive System when it first came out. It had the usual boring yellow jacket but the book remains one of my all-time favorites, a genuinely treasured memory.
I have the Ace edition if the Leo and Diane Dillon cover — http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?21785
Did not care for the novel, or rather, was in no way blown away like I thought I would be. Not sure why. I do want to read some of Sladek’s other work.
Actually, i’m not much of a fan of his other work but, at the time, The Reproductive System was a winner. If I read it again, I might think otherwise. It’s usually the way with books I’ve known and loved.
I want to read The Müller-Fokker Effect and some of his short stories.
Yeah, sometimes I’m terrified of giving my favorite books rereads!
I have not completely unhappy memories of Roderick but I do remember thinking The Müller-Fokker Effect was terrible (sorry about that). Frankly I know I’ve read the short story collections but the only thing I remember are the parodies in The Steam-Driven Boy and other Strangers.
What was wrong with it? (It is supposed to be his best and seems at first glance like my type of SF).
The cover for Tomorrow Lies In Ambush is a stunner. I recently made the schoolboy error of picking up Mechasm thinking it was another Sladek novel, I’ve just written a blog post about the whole sorry incident. At least both books have fantastic covers.
I’ve only read the two Roderick novels of his,made into a single volume,but they as a single book,although quite good,seemed long and tedious I thought.I think one of the other two novels mentioned might be better,or better still,his short stories!
Sladek was supposed to have been an influence on Philip K.Dick during his peak.Sladek wrote a short parody of Dick called “Solar Shoe Salesman”. I imagine it’s very good.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure his SF author parodies are in the collection mentioned by David above: The Steam-Driven Boy and other Strangers.
Yes……..David Pringle choses “The Complete Roderick” for his “The 100 Best SF Novels”,where he compares him to Vonnegut,but says he is more quirky,but less slick and hasn’t gained the more famous author’s popularity.I don’t know,maybe it’s true,the novel wasn’t slick enough.