Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Short Taxonomy Of Spaceship Covers

After a little research, here's a list of credits for the 1970s SF paperback covers I put up in two previous posts. I haven't been able to identify the artist for one cover: Poul Anderson's The Trouble Twisters.  Does anyone know who created it?

Part 1
Equator, by Brian ´╗┐Aldiss - Bruce Pennington
The Trouble Twisters, by Poul Anderson - unknown
The Stars Like Dust, by Isaac Asimov - Chris Foss
The End of Eternity, by Isaac Asimov - Chris Foss
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov - Chris Foss
In The Ocean of Night, by Gregory Benford - Peter Andrew Jones
The Star Dwellers, by James Blish - Colin Hay
The Testament of Andros, by James Blish - Chris Foss
A Life for the Stars, by James Blish - Chris Foss
Triton, by Samuel R. Delany - Tony Roberts
Now Wait for Next Year, by Philip K Dick - Chris Foss
334, by Thomas M Disch - Tony Roberts

Part 2
All the Sounds of Fear, by Harlan Ellison - Chris Foss
Deathworld 2, by Harry Harrison - Eddie Jones
The Machine in Shaft Ten, by M John Harrison - Chris Foss
The Heaven Makers, by Frank Herbert - Bruce Pennington
The Best of Fritz Leiber - Tony Roberts
After Apollo, by Barry Malzberg - Tony Roberts
The Caltraps of Time, by David I Masson - Gordon C Davis
The View From the Stars, by Walter Miller - Chris Foss
A Hole in Space, by Larry Niven - Tony Roberts
West of the Sun, by Edgar Pangborn - Colin Hay
The Fifth Head of Cerberus, by Gene Wolfe - Jim Burns
Away and Beyond, by A.E.Van Vogt - Chris Foss

A few brief notes:

All the covers were scanned from books in my collection, and I bought almost all of them (the two exceptions are The Machine in Shaft Ten and The Caltraps of Time) in the 1970s. Back then, it seemed as if every other science fiction paperback had a spaceship on its cover; even though the proportion was probably somewhat less, spaceships were a major signifier, and catnip to my younger self.

You may have noticed that none of the covers are of books by women. There were plenty of women publishing science fiction novels and short story collections back then - Octavia E Butler, Suzette Haden Elgin, Ursula Le Guin, Tanith Lee, Anne McCaffery, Vonda McIntyre, Kit Reed, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon), and Kate Wilhelm, for instance - but they didn't seem to get spaceships on their covers. They mostly got people instead. No doubt Freud would have something to say about that.

Chris Foss was the major SF cover artist of the 1970s. His massive spaceships and other machines -

- with their chunky realism and chequered and striped paintjobs, are instantly recognisable. I'm pretty sure that he was one of the influences on the generation of British writers who in the 1980s and 1990s started publishing the kind of science fiction that's become known as the New Space Opera. (One of those writers, Al Reynolds, has republished his review of Foss's book, Hardware, on his blog.)


Blogger JVK said...

Maybe Tony/Anthony Roberts?

I preferred this cover: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26518458@N05/3308286009/

July 02, 2013 10:08 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Quite possibly, but can't find any reference to back it up...

The earlier cover (by Brian Edwards) is great, isn't it? What's not to like about a space dragon lasering a giant kangaroo? But then the 1970s came around, and it was Big Spaceship Time.

July 02, 2013 11:33 am  
Blogger Hakan said...

I'm a big fan of spaceships on covers, Chris Foyle's stuff are real classics. When I was collecting rarely found 2nd hand SF books in Ankara in early 90s, these spaceship covers were an instant identifier: Must buy this one. I still think buying books from Amazon UK and getting them in a brown box delivered into the office lacks the excitement, the thrill of the chase and the catch when you find yet an other.

July 02, 2013 8:18 pm  
Anonymous Graham said...

Chris Foss was one of the more prolific cover artists in that period, outside the science-fiction covers he was also cover artist for adventure fiction writer Geoffrey Jenkins during the 70s & 80s.

February 12, 2018 7:29 am  

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