Science fiction book covers of the 1960s and 1970s blast their way onto your retinas like an acid trip from beyond the universe. They're more vivid, trippier, and often more nightmarish than today's covers. Here are some of the craziest.
We often look to book covers of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s for vivid, pulpy imagery and weird Freudian symbolism — but the 1960s and 1970s provide a treasure trove of brain-melting weirdness that's hard to beat. Just check out some of these insanely weird, and just plain insane, covers from the era when people still used electricity to test the acidity of their Kool Aid. And some of these incredible covers are by the great Richard Powers.
The Far-Out People, via Conformer on Flickr. From the back cover: "Dreams of human progress to boggle the mind. Nightmares of human degradation to shatter the spirit. Which destiny awaits man as he plunges into the twenty-first century and beyond? The inquisitive authors in this volume cross the frontiers of time and traverse the boundaries of the human psyche as they speculate on life tomorrow with the far-out people."
The Primal Urge by Brian Aldiss, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover image by Richard Powers.
The Trap! via Covers Etc. on Flickr.
City Of Illusions, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Jack Gaughan.
On The Symb-Socket Circuit, via Conformer on Flickr.
"The symb-socketeers were the elite of the galaxy. Traveling from planet to planet, they worked for play and played for a living. Into this circuit crept Matthew Wade, fugitive, ex-king of the universe, a coord who had fled his people."
The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick, via Jason Ladell on Flickr.
30 Day Wonder by Richard Wilson, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
Moons Of Triopus by John Rankine via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
Conditionally Human by Walter M. Miller, Jr., via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
The Monitors by Keith Laumer, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
The Metal Monster by A. Merritt, via Jason Ladell on Flickr.
Operation Terror by Murray Leinster, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover by Richard Powers.
Genus Homo by L. Sprague de Camp and P. Schuyler Miller, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
Beyond The Black Enigma, via Conformer on Flickr.
"The Black Enigma could be anything from a mere vibration to the gaping maw of a hideous space beast. Whatever it was, Special Agent John Craig of the Alert Command had to destroy it before it devoured the universe!"
The Guardians Of Time by Poul Anderson, via Jason Ladell on Flickr.
One Million Tomorrows by Bob Shaw, via Conformer on Flickr.
"In the 22nd Century, no one had to die of old age: an immortality drug was available to all. Its only drawback was the side-effect that ended a man's sex drive.
"But Will Carewe became the first man to test a new variety of the drug, one without any side-effects at all. The limitless future, a million tomorrows, stretched before him with golden hope...until a series of 'accidents' made him realize that someone was trying to murder him."
The Curse Of Rathlaw by Peter Saxon, via Conformer on Flickr.
"The anguished triple curse was as old as Evil itself...born in that dark and magical past, breathing through the centuries, it burst now from the hideous lips of Fergus Trayle, hermit of Black Loch, thwarted in his lust for the beautiful maid servant of Sir Alistair Rathlaw - The sun would blot out, a kelpie would return to Scotland - and the Rathlaw clan would vanish from the earth!"
The Sleep Eaters by John Lymington, via Conformer on Flickr.
"One night a man named John went to bed as usual. But as he lay on the edge of sleep, he received a telepathic message from a world leader, and a vision into the future.
"He couldn't believe that his mind was a radio receiver from an invisible space enemy so he committed himself to a mental hospital. Later he tried to tell the world about the coming space invasion.
"But who would believe an escapee from an asylum?"
Time Is The Simplest Thing by Clifford D. Simak, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover art by Richard Powers.
Telepath by Arthur Sellings, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover by Richard Powers.
Six-Gun Planet by John Jakes, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover by Richard Powers.
Hard To Be A God, via Blackaller on Flickr.
Time Tunnel by Murray Leinster, via Conformer on Flickr.
Sirius by Olaf Stapledon, via Jason Ladell on Flickr.
"One end was in 1964 - the other in 1804. People could go both ways. So could...things. For instance, brand-new 'antiques' for the 20th century, and marvels of modern industry for the Napoleonic era.
"But you had to be careful - because what would happen to 'now' if you did something in 1804 that changed history? It was unthinkable.
"Unfortunately, it happened..."
Trullion by Jack Vance, via Conformer on Flickr.
"The Trill were a lackadaisical, easy-living race - except for the planetwide game of hassade when a ferocious instinct for gambling drove them to risk all - home, friends, family, even life itself - on the teams that contested the water-checkerboard gaming fields.
A Plague Of Demons by Keith Laumer, via Jason Ladell on Flickr.
The Birds by Frank Baker, via Covers Etc. on Flickr.
Tiger By The Tail and other science fiction stories, by Alan E. Nourse, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover by Richard Powers.
Fritz Leiber, The Night Of The Wolf, via Jason Ladell on Flickr. Cover by Richard Powers.
The Witches by Carter Brown, via Covers Etc. on Flickr. What the heck is covering up her breasts?
Day Of The Women via Covers Etc. on Flickr.
'A female Prime Minister. . .human stud farms run by women. . .mass rallies at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the day of the dominating woman. . .all this and more in a take over bid of the Seventies that turns to hight-heeled fascism, a dictatorship of unbridled power lust.
A female elite has taken over England. Led by their 'mother', the sleek Diana Druce, they perform an economic miracle - and put the jackboot through the idea that women are the weaker sex.
Author Pamela Kettle paints, in mercilessly naked detail, a picture of the near future that is not only possible, but probable. . .'
Tiltangle by R.W. Mackelworth, via Conformer on Flickr. From the back cover: "They had lived in the caves for a very long time - for generations of mind-numbing time. Only a few daring young ones were chosen periodically to go out and get new supplies, and not many of them came back. But some did, with enough food to keep the colony living. And breeding.
"The cold numbed the mind, too. Keeping body and soul together took so much energy that few ever thought to ask any questions - like how had they got there? When would they leave? Or was it, in fact, already too late?"
When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, via Conformer on Flickr.
"Two outlaw planets were hurtling through outer space on a direct collision course toward Earth. In secret, a few great scientists began to build rocket ships to evacuate a chosen few - the most brilliant and biologically useful - to a distant planet where the human race could start anew."
The Moon Base by E.C. Tubb, via Conformer on Flickr.
"Felix Larsen had been sent to Luna Station to investigate 'something odd on the Moon.' There was no proof, not even a concrete basis for suspicion, yet there was a feeling so wrong about the place that Security had hinted of traitors.
"On the first day at the sealed station beneath the Moon's crust, Felix had become violently ill. He awoke from a drugged sleep with no memory of the intervening time lapse. Now he had to be doubly careful because his secret might be out, and somewhere in the station - or somewhere out there on the alien Moon itself - an unknown intelligence was waiting for the critical moment."
Nova Express by William Burroughs, via Fin Fahey on Flickr.