'Nightmare Blue' Art by Justin Todd 1975

A varied selection of retro SF and Fantasy book art. Sci-Fi-O-Rama was pretty much built upon the back of posting forgotten book and games art, so with a renaissance in blog activity what better than to revisit the archives and excerpt another sampler.

What’s fascinating with each of these examples is that though they might not always fully hit the mark there’s always something of interest or worthy of reference. This then might be a style of colouring, a technique in rendering, the choice and application of a typeface, or even something as obscure as the design of a motif. In short, even the most subtle fragment of detailing can flick a creative switch, it’s all about your own imagination. That isn’t, however, to say that every Sci-Fi book cover has merit – au contraire – they most certainly do not. But that’s what we’re here for, to filter and serve only the very finest…

In putting this (abridged) selection together we’re go revisit several of the artists featured at Sci-Fi-O-Rama before, people who defined and shaped the genre such as

Dean Ellis – The World Inside

Dean Ellis - The World Inside

More superior 70’s retro book cover art via the fabulous Dean Ellis, really dig the spartan typography here. The font is ITC Busorama (thanks Eric/Martin/John!) nice and clean…

This cover has a suitably epic feel, similar in vein to the covers Dean conjured up for Larry Niven’s Ringworld series, I added a post RE those last year click here for a refresher

Art via one my Flickr Favs: mystique123_2000

Dean Ellis (5) High Wire Act

Dean Ellis (5) High Wire Act

Dean Ellis - High Wire Act

A fifth appearance on Sci-Fi-O-Rama for one of America’s premier 20th century Sci-fi Artist’s; Dean Ellis who sadly passed away last month (12th October 2009). This piece was featured in the July 1981 edition of Omni Magazine accompanying an article on the concept of Arthur C Clarke’s Space Eleveator. Read the full article here: http://is.gd/4TFxG

Dean’s friend Justine has contacted the blog directly asking for help compiling a list of Dean’s works and illustrations, so here’s a shout out to anyone who knows of or owns any Books/Magazines that carry Dean’s magnificent work… I’ve featured 4 here already and will continue to do so, but of course, there are so many more… Any help, hints will be greatly appreciated.

Larry Niven – Ringworld / Protector



Here we have two artist’s interpretation’s of “Ring and Bubble Worlds” hypothetical megastructures first theorised by physicist Freeman Dyson and popularised by legendary American Sci-fi author Larry Niven. The Ringworld concept was of course recently re-imagined and brought to the fore as the backdrop for Bungie’s seminal First Person Shooter “Halo”.

The top cover is interesting – though admittedly it’s visually descriptive, the scale is completely wrong – Larry Niven’s artificial world is about 600 Million miles in circumference – this would mean here that the central star is tiny!  Also on closer inspection the topography is actually stuck on sideways and the whole thing looks more like a giant Zoetrope!…. anyway nitpicking aside, as a cover it still rocks

A “Dyson Ring” is the most simple form of a “Dyson Swarm” basically a vast collection of satellites strung around a star to capture solar energy, this differs slightly to the ring’s described in Niven’s novel and Halo which are actually artificial worlds. Freeman Dyson envisaged these concepts as a solution to meet the needs of a long-lived technological civiliastions energy requirements –

Dean Ellis – The Planet That Wasn’t

The Planet That Wasn't

A tangerine Death Star spinning in the inky blackness of space, the cover art for the 1977 Discus Editon of Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Planet That Wasn’t’. Alas no artist is credited anywhere in the book, so I’m unsure of whom its by, although it look’s like it could be the work of Dean Ellis but that’s purely a guess! If anyone knows more please let me know…..