Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spherical Spaceships, Spherical Aliens, Unidentified Spheres

(Walter Popp’s cover for the August 1952 issue of Fantastic Adventures)

The sphere — as a manifestation of the perfectly round geometrical shape or replete with various derivations and modifications (tentacles, slight elongations, eye sockets, limbs both fleshly or mechanical) — holds a particular fascination for sci-fi artists and authors.  The possibilities are endless: spherical aliens, spherical ocean descent vehicles, spherical spaceships, spherical robotic doctors, wizards levitating spherical objects, and spherical legged war vehicles…

I’ve selected a delightful variety of these spherical manifestations.  In my favorite (above) female scientists alternately shout about, gaze at, and document descending Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spherical Spaceships, Spherical Aliens, Unidentified Spheres

Book Review: Future City, ed. Roger Elwood (1973)

3.25/5 (Average)

According to Future City, the cities of the future are to be avoided at all costs.  There are no utopias here — only overpopulation, pollution, racial warfare, natural disasters, robot takeovers, and eventual reversion to primitivism!  But there’s a trajectory!  In fact, Roger Elwood, the editor of the volume, asked for new stories that fit along this arc.  Elwood claims that there are twenty-two leading science-fiction writers who contributed to the volume.  Unfortunately, three of these leading authors don’t submit stories: Tom Disch contributes a one page poem, Clifford D. Simak a brief introduction, and Frederick Pohl a short afterword.  Also, two of the twenty-two are monikers for Barry N. Malzberg.  Famous authors like Frank Herbert and Ellison contribute substandard short stories.  Many of the other leading figures are not “leading figures” in any sense of the word!

As with most collections there are gems AND complete blunders.  Robert Silverberg, R. A. Lafferty, Ben Bova (and others) all contribute thought-provoking stories making this collection Continue reading Book Review: Future City, ed. Roger Elwood (1973)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIV

Over the last months I’ve restrained myself from impulsive science fiction purchases considering the massive pile of books I still need to read — however, a stop at Half-Price books while visiting my nostalgic onetime home of Austin, TX was too good to pass up.

And lo and behold, I procured a first edition Philip K. Dick novel with a gorgeous Jerome Podwil cover, an underrated novel by James White, one future pastoral vision by Simak, and a collection of short stories (Malzberg, Herbert, Lafferty, Silverberg, Scortia, Ellison) edited by Elwood about future metropolises — a wonderful edition to my collection considering the plethora of sci-fi city related cover art posts I’ve written as of late (Elevated Cities Part I, Part II, Richard Power’s Surrealistic Cityscapes).

Enjoy!

1. The Crack in Space (1966), Philip K. Dick

(Jerome Podwil’s cover for the 1966 edition)

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XIV

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Infernal Machines

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition of The Stars Will Judge (1974), Irving A. Greenfield)

There are manifold possibilities for the infernal machine unraveling beneath the streets or inhabiting entire planets — it could construct simulacra, infiltrate spaceships with insinuating metal tentacles, conduct experiments, terraform the soil, create new life, manipulate politicians, cause natural disasters — technology gone mad, endlessly proliferating…  The dangers of technology, or technology in the hands of nefarious individuals is by far one of the most popular themes of science fiction.  I cannot count how many Star Trek episodes, novels, movies, and other television shows examine these scenarios — innumerable, it goes without saying.

I’ve chosen a wonderful collection of science fiction cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Infernal Machines

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Elevated Cities Part II

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition of You Will Never Be The Same (1963), Cordwainer Smith)

“Now I shall tell of the city of Zenobia, which is wonderful in this fashion: though set on dry terrain it stands on high pilings, the houses are of bamboo and zinc, with many platforms and balconies placed on stilts at various heights, crossing one another, linked by ladders and hanging sidewalks, surmounted by cone-roofed belvederes, barrels storing water, weather vanes, jutting pulleys, and fishpoles and cranes” — Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities, 1972, pg. 35)

Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities has a choice place on my living room bookshelf next to various Saramago and Pynchon novels.  Whenever I pick it up I’m immediately immersed in intense nostalgia, I see my father reading it on the sofa, I remember paging Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Elevated Cities Part II

Book Review: One Million Tomorrows (variant title: 1 Million Tomorrows), Bob Shaw (1971)

(Diane and Leon Dillon’s cover for the 1971 edition of One Million Tomorrows (1971), Bob Shaw)

3/5 (Average)

One Million Tomorrows (1971) is the second of Bob Shaw’s science fiction novels I’ve read.  The first, Ground Zero Man (1971), suffered from an extreme case of grating melodrama which weakened the insightful central message — the ever evolving danger (and nature) of nuclear war.

One Million Tomorrows attempts, in a dubious manner, to tackle another standard trope — immortality.  That is, immortality with a catch, the sterilization and complete loss of sexual drive of all men who take the drug.  Women, on the other-hand, become ageless and maintain whatever level of sexual desire they had when they took the Continue reading Book Review: One Million Tomorrows (variant title: 1 Million Tomorrows), Bob Shaw (1971)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People

(David Hardy’s cover for the November 1975 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

I couldn’t stop laughing while putting together this post from my collection of gleaned covers: gumby in space with two fuzzy tufts and three unsymmetrical eye ridges (or, his fingers) ogling at a space probe, mushroom people transfixed by a mysterious white tentacled orb hoisted aloft by man in a pink cape and a skimpy pink unitard, evil nosed caterpillars, scary monstrous mole monster, etc.  Did the editors KNOW precisely what the art looked like before it appeared on the covers evoking such throat hurting unintended (or perhaps intended) consequences?  But, I have to admit there’s nothing like a cool (and funny alien) to make me pick up a book or magazine.

As always, what are your favorite funny alien covers which I haven’t posted?

I’ve read a few of Vance’s novels so I’ll probably pick up The Eyes of the Overworld Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Handful of Tufted Gumby Aliens and Mushroom People