(Rod Dunham’s cover for the 1953 edition of Planet of the Dreamers (1953), John D. MacDonald)
First (archetypal) incarnation: rocket, field, figure. Second incarnation: rocket with extra fins, field with unusual terrain, human staring at alien figure (s). Repeat with virtually infinite variation.
By far one of my favorite science fiction cover tropes, rocket/field/figure evokes covers spanning the entire history of science fiction. Rod Dunham’s cover for the 1953 edition of John D. MacDonald’s Planet of the Dreamers (above) perfectly evokes the archetype in its pure unadulterated form. Emswiller’s cover for the 1960 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (below) uses a more traditional perspective but manipulates the field with a Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Rocket, Field, Figure Part I
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)
collated rating: 4/5 (Good)
I’ve stayed away from C. M. Kornbluth for far too long. I read Kornbluth and Pohl’s The Space Merchants (1953) when I was quite young and was put off for some unexplainable reason. What a shame! This collection of short stories and novelettes contains some of the best short works I’ve ever read from the 50s (a few of Philip K. Dick’s early works are just as good). As with The Space Merchants, Kornbluth exposes (in an often satirical manner) the dark underbelly of the usually glamourous 50s accounts of space travel, interplanetary trade, and the devastating social ramifications of technology on astronauts, new cultures, etc. Kornbluth is equally adept at infusing his work with devastating commentary on American society.
This collection is brilliant throughout — only the annoying silly Continue reading Book Review: The Explorers, C. M. Kornbluth (1954)
(Uncredited cover for the 1960 edition of The 22nd Century (1954), John Christopher)
There’s no better way to start off the new year than a gallery of science fiction covers depicting rampant imagination, unlimited promise. Some of us probably wish for mechanisms that conjure extraordinary feats of telepathy or the throbbing delights (avoiding all the pitfalls, of course) of a wisdom inundated supermind (well, I do at least).
Regardless, depicting extraordinary intelligence — whether harnessed for nefarious schemes or not — is a common trope: gigantic brains! unusual metal helmets! exploding heads replete with spectral fires! rays darting from eyes! otherworldly auras encircling heads, emanating symbols Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Superminds (giant brains, expanding minds, rampant imagination)
(Jack Gaughn’s cover for the 1964 edition of Three Worlds to Conquer (1964), Poul Anderson)
I spend a substantial amount of time looking through the sci-fi publisher catalogues of Ace, Pyramid Books, Dell, Doubleday, Signet, Ballantine, etc for both books to read and interesting covers that fit into various themes for my Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art posts (INDEX).
While perusing I’m occasionally baffled by covers that I’ve sworn I’ve seen on other books — and lo and behold, publishers sold art to different publishers, often lesser-known and unable to commission their own Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Reusing Cover Art
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1959 edition of The Rest Must Die (1959), Kendell Foster Crossen)
The electricity turns off in a futuristic city and people turn into animals and everyone slowly kills each other, mysterious winds sweep through cities killing everyone, large machine minds take over, nuclear bombs destroy everything, intelligent dogs take over, the sun expands drying all the oceans, the sun expands (but not as much) and water floods over all the cities, aliens come with large guns and blow everything up, aliens come with brain probes and make others blow everything up, aliens pretend to be humans and annoy the humans enough so they blow each other up with nuclear bombs, people from the past go back in time and see that humans have blown everything up and they try to prevent the aliens from making the humans blow everything up, a bacterial agent from an alien kills everyone, Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Doomed Cities (post-apocalyptical ruins, war-wrecked landscapes, burning winds)
I somehow forgot to post these four…..
Because I thoroughly enjoyed James White’s The Watch Below (1966) I procured his first novel, The Secret Visitors (1957). My expectations are low….
Despite the egregious cover of Silverberg’s The Masks of Time (1968) (“white firmament congregating, emanating?, from floating man’s manhood,” or, “Ball Lightening” as a particularly witty individual posted on Good Show Sir after I submitted the cover), I’ve found that virtually everything that Silverberg wrote in the late 60s and early 70s is on the whole top-notch so I couldn’t help but pick up a copy.
I’m no Asimov fan but I found an old copy of The Currents of Space (1952) at my parents’ house and purloined it — I read it when I was 12 so it has intense nostalgic value, one of my first science fiction books!
1. The Currents of Space, Isaac Asimov (1952)
(Uncredited cover for the 1953 edition)
Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XVII (Asimov + Silverberg + White + et al.)
(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition of Beyond the Sealed World (1965), Rena M. Vale)
While browsing through my collection of cover images I’ve collated over the last few months for science fiction art post ideas, I came across the uncredited cover for Rena Vale’s Beyond the Sealed World (1965) and was transfixed! The angle of the text, the mountain, the dark expanse of space, the little spaceship, the figures silhouetted against the night, and the surreal shape of the domed city connected to other distant domed cities… If anyone knows the artist (or has a good educated guess) please let me know! The second edition cover (below) still has beautiful domed cities but the caveman, helmeted soldier, and white-clad (not for long, the dress is slipping) woman tableau ruins the feel.
Particularly noteworthy is Jack Gaughan’s elevated domed city cover Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Domed Cities of the Future Part I