Sci-Fi Book Covers And The Female Form

Having recently gone through a reorganisation of my library in a desperate attempt to create some much needed shelf space, I’ve been contemplating the nature of sci-fi cover art in general. The 1950s were all about rocket ships and spacemen in giant glass domed helmets whereas the 1980s and on through the 1990s huge airbrushed spacecraft were pretty much de rigueur (ugh). Between those years however, pretty much anything went in the publisher’s art departments and so that’s where I have concentrated my collecting efforts over the years.

All genre-specific fiction has its artistic signifiers of course but I’ve always thought sci-fi missed a little glamour here and there. Sure, those 50s jackets often had a token female holding onto the chisel jawed, laser pistol firing hero but that was about it. Are we too nerdy and prudish to consider the female form not sci-fi enough when it comes to cover art? And so I went looking for examples to disprove this theory, It was a slim and mixed selection I finally retrieved but I am presenting my findings here nonetheless – for purely scientific purposes of course.

Kronk by Edmund Cooper
1972 – Coronet
Cover art by Chris Foss

Cooper Kronk

Sexmax by Hughes Cooper
1970 – New English Library
Cover art by Robert Foster

Cooper Sexmax

Beyond Apollo by Barry Malzberg
1973 – Pocket Books
Cover art by Charles Moll

Malzberg Apollo

Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
1972 – Panther
Cover artist uncredited

Spinrad Barron

Turn Left At Thursday by Frederik Pohl
1969 – Ballantine
Cover art by Robert Foster

Pohl Thursday

Tales Of The Flying Mountains by Poul Anderson
1971 – Collier / Macmillan
Cover artist uncredited

Poul Mountains

The Joy Makers by James Gunn
1976 – Panther
Cover art by Jim Burns

Gunn The Joymakers

No Direction Home by Norman Spinrad
1975 – Pocket Books
Cover art by Charles Moll

This book was chosen following a conversation about a recent acquisition by Joachim Boaz over at Science Fiction And Other Suspect Ruminations blog (here). Thanks for the tip Joachim!

Spinrad Direction

In the interests of appealing to any female readers who have made it through the article this far, here’s a cover featuring a couple of groovy space ladies enjoying a little gratuitous full-frontal male alien nudity whilst the dudes look on in horror. Enjoy!

The Alien by Raymond F. Jones
1966 – Belmont
Cover artist uncredited

Jones The Alien


2 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Book Covers And The Female Form

  1. Lestaret 27/05/2014 / 9:21 pm

    Lovely. I particularly like ‘Tales of the Flying Mountain’ – a bit ‘Pythonesque’ too!


    • unsubscriber 27/05/2014 / 9:26 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post Mr Lestaret.


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