The Verge

A new book aims to explore the glorious history of sci-fi cover art

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The world of science fiction literature includes some truly out-of-this-world stories, which are often accompanied by astonishing, beautiful, and flat-out bizarre covers. Now, a pair of leading science fiction critics are working to crowdfund a new book that chronicles the fantastic covers that have graced science fiction novels throughout the genre’s history.

Wonders and Visions: A Visual History of Science Fiction will include more than 350 images and accompanying explanations that delve into how artistic styles evolved alongside the genre. This isn’t any mere collection of cover art, either: it will be written by Adam Roberts and Graham Sleight. Roberts is a science fiction novelist who’s also an academic; his book The History of Science Fiction is an essential read for anyone interested in… well, the history of science fiction. Sleight is the managing editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, an invaluable resource for the genre community.


The pair describe the book as one that aims to “tell the whole history of the genre in a new way, and to make the case that science fiction art…exists as a vital and neglected mode of modern art.” The book will contain illustrations of “key” covers, art that is iconic in genre history, comparative entries that look at how different artists and publishers conceptualized covers for the same books, as well as other notable works of art that had a particularly notable impact on the publishing industry.

They’re currently funding the project on Unbound, a publishing crowdfunding site, where they’re hoping to raise $60,000. An ebook edition will run for $15, while a hardcover will cost $50 (it’ll be about $73 including shipping). Higher support tiers will get posters, collectible editions, or a manuscript review from Roberts.

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