David Pelham’s Hoyle Triptych

Roughly a year ago I had the good fortune to fall upon two copies of a three book Penguin mini series in a second hand shop. Both books were in exceptionally good condition for their age and were priced very reasonably at £3 each. Of course I had to have them and find the third book too, it wouldn’t be that hard – would it? Or so I thought back then. In the intervening period I kept my eyes and ears open for the missing volume through all my usual channels and have been unlucky… until now.

Last week I noticed that one of my larger book dealers had a copy for sale and quickly contacted him to purchase it. I could hardly await it’s arrival, then on Saturday morning it duly fell through the letterbox with a thump and I had another Penguin collection success story on my hands!

Two of the books were written by Fred Hoyle, A professor of astronomy at Cambridge University no less, the third title was co-written with his brother Geoffrey. The stark, sleek black covers are by David Pelham, the geometric design mirroring the contents of each volume. The only colour added was the stencilled name and title at the top centre of each cover. Because of this design, they end up looking more like text books than Science Fiction novels, see what you think.

Here is David Pelham’s Hoyle Triptych in all it’s glory;

The Fifth Planet by Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle Fifth Planet

The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle The Black Cloud

October The First Is Too Late by Fred Hoyle
1971 – Penguin Books
Cover art by David Pelham

Hoyle October The First Is Too Late


10 thoughts on “David Pelham’s Hoyle Triptych

  1. Bernie 17/07/2014 / 2:38 pm

    I do like David Pelham’s stuff, nice set!


    • unsubscriber 17/07/2014 / 2:51 pm

      Cheers Bernie, I’m a huge Pelham fan too. These three really do look like text books from the seventies.


  2. Joachim Boaz 17/07/2014 / 5:14 pm

    Too bad Hoyle’s work is rather dry, lame, blah…

    I’m not always a fan of Pelham but these are fun.


    • unsubscriber 17/07/2014 / 5:19 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the covers Joachim, I thought the first two books were ok but nothing special. I’m in no rush to read the third however…


  3. franzwesten 18/07/2014 / 6:55 am

    I have to agree about the textbook comment (though not in a bad way), my school library seemed full of books with that stark, very British, 70’s styling, all promising forbidden knowledge behind the covers… some even delivered it!


    • unsubscriber 18/07/2014 / 7:47 am

      I’m glad it wasn’t just me who saw these covers as textbook designs, I might have worked harder at school if mine had looked this good!


  4. Lestaret 19/07/2014 / 8:15 am

    I love Pelhams style. It’s a shame that his work is always tagged ‘textbook’ but I understand why. It is testament to how powerful his designs were – can anybody name the designer of any other textbooks? Or anyone else who can lay claim to making school textbooks sexy?


    • unsubscriber 19/07/2014 / 1:04 pm

      Pelham was indeed a designer with a very singular and easily identifiable style. Glad you enjoyed the pictures Mr Lestaret.


  5. Guy 13/07/2015 / 8:18 pm


    Now I am waiting to get home to see which covers I have for Hoyle. I do collect his books, The Black Cloud I enjoyed, and I brought a Penguin copy of the Fifth Planet to read but it has the L’Oiseau Fleur by Magritte on the cover.


    Liked by 1 person

    • unsubscriber 15/07/2015 / 11:19 am

      I’ve enjoyed reading all three of these titles. I previously had the Magritte cover for Fifth Planet but had to replace it to complete this set. Once again, the joys of book collecting! Best regards.


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