(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1968 edition of A Scent of New-Mown Hay (1958), John Blackburn)
2016 saw a resurgence in my cover art adventure posts. However, unlike the curated themed collections that prevailed a few years ago I focussed predominately on individual artists from a variety of countries (Portugal, Italy, Germany): my favorites include Max Ernst and His Landscapes of Decay on SF/F Covers, Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes of Mariella Anderlini, and The Futuristic Cities of Lima De Freitas. The last themed collection was way back in March 2015 — Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.
I’ve decided to return to my roots (no pun intended)! Although partially inspired by my 2014 post Human Transformations/Transfigurations (one duplicate cover), I’d been thinking about providing a gallery on the theme after reading “Ganthi” (1958), a disturbing Miriam Allen deFord short story about sentient tree-aliens and their mysterious caretaker who introduces blights when the aliens do not conform to social norms.
Without further ado I present I present Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans. My favorite is Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1968 edition of John Blackburn’s A Scent of New-Mown Hay (1958). Perhaps more fungal than plant, the vaguely looming human shape terrifies.
As always I’d love to know your favorites and/or if you know other covers that match the theme.
For more cover art posts consult the INDEX
(Carlos Ochagavia’s cover for the 1980 edition of The Best of Keith Laumer (1976), Keith Laumer)
(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1969 edition of Nebula Award Stories 1 (variant title: Nebula Award Stories 1965) (1966), ed. Damon Knight)
(Johann Peter Reuter’s cover for the 1978 German edition of The Star King (1963), Jack Vance)
(Johann Peter Reuter’s cover for the 1979 German edition of To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), Philip José Farmer)
(Richard Weaver’s cover for the 1969 edition of Time To Live (1966), John Rackham aka John T. Phillifent)
(Jan Parker’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Worlds of Frank Herbert (1970), Frank Herbert)
(Robert Adragna’s cover for Fantastic Stories of Imagination, December 1962, ed. Cele Goldsmith)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for Alien Horizons (1974), William F. Nolan)
(Uncredited 1975 cover for La Femme de Putiphar (1975), Gaston Compère)
36 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans”
I love when you do these picture theme posts.
Thanks. Do you have a favorite cover? Or, know any that might fit the theme that I didn’t include?
There’s one I think I remember from F&SF, but I can’t find it, or my memory is playing tricks on me, and it’s this one.
Ah, yeah, Emshwiller’s cover for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1960 works well. Thanks!
Especially the weird human form above her head!
Very striking! I do think Pennington’s work is particularly individual.
Not a huge fan of Bruce Pennington’s bottoms poking out of the lip tree cover — but yes, I agree with the uniqueness of his vision!
Great subject, Bruce Pennington’s cover for A Scent of New-Mown Hay is just outstanding. I will keep my eyes open for other examples.
I couldn’t agree more Guy. The odd human form, the wintery landscape, the verdant growths and tentacles and fungus…. Evocative!
I could disagree more! Probably my least liked Pennington that I’ve seen. On the other hand, I love La Femme de Putiphar’s cover. Striking, evocative, emotional, surreal. It’s weird, but I feel like I understand it. Few books I’d buy just for the cover, but this is a definite!
Wait wait, you like the bottom/lip tree better than the first Pennington? 😉
Oh! I completely missed the first Pennington! Haha. Well, neither are particularly appealing, but the second is definitely the worst! 🙂
Ah, well I was somewhat confused as I stated which one I liked the most (the first Pennington) and was under the impression that you were disagreeing with that claim. But yes, the La Femme de Putiphar cover is far superior to the second Pennington.
I liked the Bruce Pennington one for Blackburn’s novel although, having read the book, it illustrates nothing in the novel. I think it has a rather Lehresque look to it.
I know you don’t like horror, but would these work for you?
If so, you can post them.
Ah, I’d love to know more about the Blackburn novel. I only discovered his name looking through Pennington’s catalogue.
Thanks for the covers! Although I more interested in SF specific art, I still like seeing how other genres use the theme. My general practice is to save suggestions for a part II if I gather enough and/or feel compelled.
The Blackburn novel is a thriller/horror/science fiction based book. Like many of the Avengers episodes of that time period, or the X-Files of recent times. It was Blackburn’s first novel, and a fairly brisk read. Honestly, I’m a sucker for these type of stories, so take that in consideration. I do my reviews for Amazon, which means no real spoilers, however I’m one of the few reviewers there who goes into some detail of a book’s plot, unlike most. I’m not going to claim to be very good at what I do, I just do them. If you want to check out the review you can go here:
And yeah, the science is just so much rabbit pellets, but what are you going to do?
You should put your reviews on a webpage! (I originally posted my reviews on amazon as well under another pseudonym and continue to do so with spoiler warnings). Although, I have been tempted to delete all of them.
More people will see your reviews if you have a site — and it’s easier to have discussions with interested readers.
Reuter’s painting for the Jack Vance novel. Planet of the pom pom squads?
I had avoided that image in my mind — thank you Tom for ruining my conception of the cover. BOO! hah
1979, artist unknown.
That is pretty atrocious…. I bet the ivy is plastic ivy….
And that ’60s typeface is out of date by a decade.
Or there’s another Vance that might fit – an old Ace Double cover by Josh Kirby for Son of the Tree http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/2/26/SNFTTHSZM1971.jpg
Or this cover for it! I’m sure you’ll appreciate it! 😉
Oh that’s perfect! Thanks.
And, continuing the Vance theme, there’s The Houses of Iszm. It does have some good covers (check out the Urania edition) but then there’s the Mayflower cover! http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/e/e3/THHSSFSZMT1974.jpg
I was looking through the Italian covers for The Houses of Iszm — some great covers!
Here is a link to the Avon cover for The Flower Women by Clark Ashton Smith, he wrote several far future stories similar to Vance’s The Dying Earth, but earlier. They were collected by Carter in a paperback called Xiccarph which also may have suitable cover art.
Thanks Guy! That works perfectly. People have come up with enough suggestions that’s it’s almost begging a part II. Now if I had time…. perhaps soon! (my refrain of choice)
If you ever do one with sex on mainstream covers here’s one: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?11767 I remember when I bought this one I had it sitting on a table in our house, and my dad walked by and saw it. He looked at it, then at me, then he picked it up and looked at it, then looked back at me, then he put it down and just walked away shaking his head. Ah, good times in paperback publishing.
I just bought three wonderful volumes of Stephan Martiniere’s artwork: QUANTUMSCAPES, VELOCITY, and TRAJECTORY. I love the classic SF covers you’re sharing with us, but Martiniere is one of the best current SF cover artists.
Thanks for the comment!
I must confess, the computer generated SFscapes are interesting in passing but never blow me away. They seem so interchangeable and “machine” created…
I have to admit that I’m not really crazy about the photoshop trend, however out of the last ten years I’ve fallen in love with Stephan Martiniere, Cliff Nielson, Luis Royo, and Daniel Dos Santos, some of which use computer to help out their artwork, but all of which show some real creative flair. Virtually EVERY artist out there has motifs that they constantly repeat over and over again throughout their careers, often giving their artwork an assembly-line feel.
On another note, I loved the exploitive feel to cover art for The Flower Women by Clark Ashton Smith. A horrified plant woman with Medusa’s hair, fair white skin, and flower pasties about to raped (?) by an evil lizard man. Thank god Mom is dead, she’d be so embarrassed to find out one her babies liked such stuff.
Oh, I forgot, why does a plant woman have a navel?
One more http://www.philsp.com/data/images/f/fantastic_196502.jpg
The Herbert cover is my favourite.
It’s very disconcerting and evocative for sure!