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40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers

40 Coolest Sci-Fi Book Covers

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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