Sci-Fi Cover Art Hall of Fame!, part 1

Judging a book by its cover is half the fun, when it comes to vintage sci-fi paperbacks. My unending love of the sci-fi fiction genre was initially spurred by the totally bonkers cover art from all the vintage ’70s paperbacks I was lent as a child by relatives and friends. Over the years, I’ve amassed several hundred titles that double both as fascinating literature and Taschen-ready sublime examples of conceptual, pop and psychedelic cover art.

I’ve sat on my collection of cover art for years, waiting for the right time to somehow share it all in some kind of organized manner. Friends — I give you the first installment of the Sci-Fi Cover Art Hall Of Fame!

In all instances — click on the cover image to see a larger version of the artwork!


(click cover art to enlage)

“BREAKTHROUGH” – Richard Cowper, first published 1967
“Richard Cowper” was one of two pseudonyms for John Middleton Murry, Jr., the son (and namesake) of an English author who was a contemporary of D.H. Lawrence. After writing a few novels under the name “Colin Murry” to avoid unnecessary attention for being the song of a famous author, he then wrote many sci-fi novels under the Cowper name. I haven’t read “Breakthrough” yet, but apparently it has an ESP theme — one which seems to be echoed in the freakish blobby cacophony of human voices personified in the caricature pile-up on this amazing cover.


(click cover art to enlage)

“CHAINS OF THE SEA” – various authors, first published 1974
This one roasts me every time I look at it. What always gets me is the semi-freakishly tactile little patch of hair on the “head” that makes up the “beach”.


(click cover art to enlage)

“NEW DIMENSIONS #5″ – various authors, first published 1975
Speaking of tactile — this one practially bursts straight out of the confines of its bubble wrap cover, 3-D style. When I hold this book in my hand, I fight the urge to place my palm over the one in the illustration, to reach out and touch the fourth dimension (the book is from a series called “New Dimensions”, after all.)


(click cover art to enlage)

“UPSIDE DOWNSIDE” – Ron Goulart, first published 1982
This book was not good at all — to the point that I only got through about fifty pages before putting it down for good and turning to something else. But, man, this cover gives me the serious giggles — it’s got a very “Futurama” kind of sense of humor about it.


(click cover art to enlage)

“I, THE MACHINE” – Paul W. Fairman, first published 1968
Reminds me of an album cover by Chrome or something. That electric razor with the googly human eyes is the shit! Also, gotta love any collaged image involving banks of reel-to-reel magnetic tape computer storage terminals.