Books

40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers

The science fiction book cover is a hard one to get right.

Go too far and it risks descending into cliché and general ridiculousness; too subtle and no one will get too excited about the incredible stories, worlds and characters that lie beneath.

We've picked 40 of the very best sci-fi book covers: exciting, clever, vivid and unforgettable. Click on the first image to get started and see if you agree with our choices.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers

    Fahrenheit 451

    Author: Ray Bradbury

    Artist: Joseph Mugnaini

    A design classic for a giant of the genre, Mugnaini's cover of Bradbury's dystopian, book-burning vision has won plaudits ever since the book's release in 1953.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 1

    The Rings of Saturn

    Author: Isaac Asimov

    Artist: Chris Foss

    Chris Foss is a legend of the sci-fi design world, creating a host of instantly recognisable images in his distinctive style. This is our favourite, with Saturn morphed into a skeleton head - the great Iron Maiden album cover that never was.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 2

    Rendezvous With Rama

    Author: Arthur C. Clarke

    Artist: Unknown

    Taking inspiration from the book, with its tale of a cylindrical alien starship, this cover subtly hints at what lies within, with a minimalist flourish.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 3

    1984

    Author: George Orwell

    Artist: Shepard Fairey

    1984 has had a host of classic covers over its many years of publication; Shepard Fairey's effort is our pick, taking inspiration from Soviet socialist realism with the all-seeing eye at its centre.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 4

    Flowers For Algenon

    Author: Daniel Keyes

    Artist: Unknown

    A beautifully simple design for the sad tale of Algernon, this is minimal and clever, with the use of bright red and blue making it stand out from the crowd.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 5

    I, Robot

    Author: Isaac Asimov

    Artist: Ed Cartier

    A hugely influential book and a brilliant cover to match; when someone says the word robot to you, this is basically the image that springs to mind - a darkly gleaming metallic body and two small, penetrating lights for eyes. It's not a million miles away from what RoboCop ended up looking like 37 years later.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 6

    Clans of the Alphane Moon

    Author: Philip K. Dick

    Artist: Davis Meltzer

    Utilising a classic style of sci-fi art, the gun-weilding robotic skeleton figure is truly creepy.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 7

    Oryx and Crake

    Author: Margaret Atwood

    Designer: John Gall

    Illustrator: Erich Lessing

    A novel where humans play god is illustrated with a Garden of Eden reference; eye-catching and clever.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 8

    Jurassic Park

    Author: Michael Crichton

    Artist: Chip Kidd

    A cover that is so familiar, it's easy to forget just how brilliant it is. Just a T-Rex silhouette - and boy does he look hungry.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 9

    Neuromancer

    Author: William Gibson

    Artist: James Warhola

    A design classic, this first edition cover is pretty much defines the image that many people see when they hear the words 'sci-fi'. Black background, white mathematical lines, sloping back (a la Star Wars), a strange mystical image in the middle and a classic no-nonsense typeface. Copied a thousand times over by 80s computer games.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 10

    Brave New World

    Author: Aldous Huxley

    Artist: Leslie Holland

    Like 1984, a host of great covers have seen the light of day for Huxley's dystopian classic; the first edition is our personal favourite: elegant and stylish.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 11

    The Brief History of the Dead

    Author: Kevin Brockmeier

    Artist: Archie Ferguson

    Clever, and creepy: a perfect combination when it comes to sci-fi cover art.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 12

    Altered Carbon

    Author: Richard Morgan

    Designer: Emma Wallace

    Art Director: Lucie Stericker

    In a world where human personalities can be digitally mapped, then installed into new bodies, who wouldn't give themselves a nice muscly leg like this one? A beautiful anatomical image creates a truly distinctive cover.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 13

    Démons et Chimères

    Author: Natsuki Takaya

    Artist: Unknown

    This surrealist cover has everything: a half-man, half alien in a futuristic space suit, surrounded by a hundred colourful flowers. We're not really sure what's going on here, but we like it a lot.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 14

    Babel 17

    Author: Samuel R. Delany

    Designer: Evan Gaffney

    A classic staple image of sci-fi, the all-seeing eye is employed to startling effect with a little stardust and a cool text layout in the lower third of the page. Very nice indeed.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 15

    Make Room! Make Room!

    Author: Harry Harrison

    Designer: Jamie Stafford-Hill

    An influential 1966 novel exploring the prospective dangers of overpopulation, this cover was incredibly effective due to its context: one would naturally assume that this was a fictionalised shot of a dystopian, overcrowded city of the future; instead it is simply a well-chosen stock photo of a modern-day Manhattan. The future is already here.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 16

    Schild’s Ladder

    Author: Greg Egan

    Designer: Emma Wallace

    Art Director: Lucie Stericker

    A book incorporating some pretty extreme physics and mathematics, set in a collapsing universe where the only escape is to head for ever more distant stars. A strikingly simple cover depicting purely those stars - and escape - is, therefore, just perfect.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 17

    2001 (A Space Odyssey)

    Author: Arthur C. Clarke

    Artist: Unknown

    There have been many great covers for Arthur C. Clarke's classic, but this is our favourite: beautiful typography, the ghostly illuminated edge of a barren planet, and a red semi-circle to add a touch of colour. Minimal and superbly executed.

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  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 18

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth

    Author: Jules Verne

    Artist: Mort Künstler

    The tiny figures bravely navigating the hellish chasm create an incredibly vivid image, setting the scene for Verne's famous novel perfectly.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 19

    The Left Hand of Darkness

    Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

    Artist: Alex Ebel''

    A strikingly beautiful image of a frozen ice world, with a jutting shard sculpted with a female and male face; this referenced the story beneath of a world with genderless inhabitants, save for two days a month, when they would assume male or female, and mate with others. We even like the garish pink lettering, which adds that extra bit of kitsch.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 20

    War of the Worlds

    Author: H.G. Wells

    Artist: Richard Clifton-Dey and Roger Dean

    Another title where we could have chosen any one of a number of fantastic covers, this one stands out for us: a bleak, apparently lifeless landscape, but lurking, partially hidden, in the foggy distance, looms two ominous figures...

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 21

    The Forever War

    Author: Joe Haldeman

    Artist: Unknown

    A lone soldier walking off into a jungle, to face his destiny - it's a common war book cover, but with a twist - that's no normal military backpack he's got there. No, as this is an interstellar war, he's got a few more tricks up his sleeve. Subtle, but very cool.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 22

    The Sands of Mars

    Author: Arthur C. Clarke

    Artist: Armand

    Clarke's first published science fiction novel so, again, a great many contenders for coolest cover, but this one, for a Spanish translation, takes the prize. A beautiful use of colour, a classic illustration style and it features Mars, Earth, the moon and an awesome rocket. You can't really ask for much more from a sci-fi cover.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 23

    Double Star

    Author: Robert A. Heinlein

    Artist: Unknown

    The first edition cover of this book, and the best, this is just so quintessentially 'science fiction', it hurts. An elegantly-shaped rocket, a background of a sea of stars, and two pioneering spacemen dressed in dapper yellow outfits. Wonderful.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 24

    After The Rain

    Author: John Bowen

    Artist: Unknown

    Copied a million times over by Hollywood disaster movies, this artwork for Bowen's 1958 novel is a classic science fiction image - a stricken Statue of Liberty with arm aloft above violent and energetic waters.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 25

    Dune

    Author: Frank Herbert

    Artist: John Schoenherr

    Like the Journey To The Centre of the Earth cover earlier on this list, a stark image of two tiny figures, battling through a vast landscape immediately conveys the scope of the novel beneath, that's waiting to be read and explored.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 26

    Dahlgren

    Author: Samuel R. Delaney

    Artist: Dean Ellis

    A gorgeous, but ominous vision of a post-apocalyptic landscape, this cover sees a decaying city bathed in light from a terrifyingly huge, low desert sun. A great image which complements the epic and complex work by Delaney contained beneath.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 27

    Armor

    Author: John Steakley

    Artist: James Gurney

    While this is a serious and respected science fiction book, it's great to see a cover that playfully uses some classic sci-fi imagery. Two alien figures engage in a bloody battle to the death with, naturally, another giant planet in the background.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 28

    Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

    Author: Philip K. Dick

    Artist: Unknown

    This is the sort of cover that we imagine Salvador Dalí would have created had he been commissioned - vivid, surreal and almost cartoon-like, creating an instantly recognisable and classic cover.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 29

    The Silver Locusts

    Author: Ray Bradbury

    Artist: Unknown

    Another fantastically vivid cover - a small, lone figure walks along a landscape with strange, giant, balloon-like constructions, while an array of nuclear weapons fire off towards their target. Strange and unsettling: a very good job.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 30

    Kallocain

    Author: Karin Boye

    Artist: Peter Haars

    A surreal and disturbing cover, this fantastic cover contains a range of illustrative styles, loud and garish colours and stands out a million miles. What could it mean? Read the book and find out.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 31

    A Clockwork Orange

    Author: Anthony Burgess

    Artist: David Pelham

    This iconic cover was actually designed ten years after the first edition of Burgess' dystopian classic came out. Designed in just a single night, it would go on to become one of the book and movie worlds' most instantly-recognisable images.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 32

    Spacebase 2000

    Author: Stewart Cowley

    Artist: Unknown

    There has to be room on this list for a gloriously, brilliantly clichéd sci-fi cover, and this our pick. Slanted 'A's, a properly 3D rendering of '2000' and a massive spaceship blasting off into the ether - what more could you ask for?

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 33

    The Drowned World

    Author: J.G. Ballard

    Artist: Richard Powers

    The steaming, humid lagoons of Ballard's drowned earth are fertile ground for strong imagery; out of a great number of excellent covers, this one gets our vote, as one man stands atop a building, gazing at the endless creep of tropical vegetation engulfing his world. You can almost feel the humidity.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 34

    From The Earth To The Moon

    Author: Jules Verne

    Artist: Unknown

    A beautiful, old-style book cover, you can literally see the care and attention that was put into this. Simple and elegant.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 35

    The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

    Author: Douglas Adams

    Artist: Unknown

    Cartoonish, silly, irreverent: this matches the tone and style of Adams' classic book quite perfectly.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 36

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Author: Margaret Atwood

    Artist: Unknown

    A deceptively simple, but hugely effective cover for this modern classic, with two identikit women dressed in regulation red towered over by a huge circular brick wall - a nod to the panopticon prison elements contained within the book's pages.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 37

    The Road

    Author: Cormac McCarthy

    Artist: Nick Lowndes

    The bare, skeleton-like trees dominate the landscape in this minimal image for McCarthy's post-apocalyptic classic, as the tiny figures of the unnamed father and son slowly continue their journey unto the unknown.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 38

    Man Plus

    Author: Frederik Pohl

    Artist: Peter Gudynas

    Quite simply a brilliant illustration of a terrifying-looking alien organism, complete with what looks to be robotic additions to its arms and inner organs. Huge fly-like eyes complete the package; unsettling, but classic sci-fi imagery.

  • 40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers 39

    The Mysterious Island

    Author: Jules Verne

    Artist: Dom Lupo

    A spooky illustrated cover from the legendary artist Dom Lupo, this utilises an unorthodox purple and green colour palette, with the object of intrigue just out of shot: just what is everyone staring at? Very cool.