The SFF Book Covers You Remember Most Vividly

What is it about a cover that grabs you? Maybe it’s a glimpse into a fantastical land, or a style of art you’ve never seen before, or a figure on the cover who is particularly compelling (or hilarious). We asked you to share the SFF book covers dynamic, unexpected, and baffling enough that they’ve remained imprinted in your memories decades after you first picked them up off the shelf.

“The trade paperbacks of Kim Stanley Robinson’s [Three Californias trilogy],” said @rakdaddy. “Mid-90s, I think. Beautiful impressionist paintings.”

Three Californias Kim Stanley Robinson book covers

@impribable shared the 50th anniversary edition cover for The Two Towers—that’s 1987, for those keeping score—”b/c even at 12 I knew there was no way Legolas looked like that.”

The Two Towers book cover Legolas hair

Jack Gaughan’s cover for Second Stage Lensmen by E.E. “Doc” Smith stuck with @dcrwrites, who “bought it when I was a kid and loved ever since”:

Second Stage Lensmen book cover

James Gurney‘s cover to Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard,” said @FlyingTrilobite. “Read it back before I knew who Gurney was.”

The Stress of Her Regard book cover

“The Michael Whelan covers from the Dragonriders of Pern series!” said @CarlyASilver:

Dragonflight Anne McCaffrey Michael Whelan book cover

In addition to singing Whelan’s praises, @Peter_Fries also called out John Berkey‘s Star Wars book covers:

John Berkey Star Wars book cover

@D_Libris mentioned the cover of Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, which parodies a famous Rembrandt portrait:

Night Watch Discworld book cover

“The older Royal Assassin cover with mostly shirtless Fitz howling at the moon,” tweeted author Laura Lam. “Teenage me particularly liked it.”

Royal Assassin book cover

“Dragonlance by far,” tweeted @john_zeleznik. “Larry Elmore is an icon.”

Dragonlance art Larry Elmore

@River_Vox suggested John Christopher’s The White Mountains: “My first sci-fi book, discovered in the elementary school library.” The cover is by Roger Hane, who also illustrated the covers of several Narnia books:

The White Mountains John Christopher book cover

@FredKiesche tweeted, “Bantam covers for S.R. Delany, 1970’s, when Dhalgren came out.”

Dhalgren Samuel R. Delany book cover

@hoopmanjh tweeted about Thomas Canty‘s cover for the first U.S. hardcover edition of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner:

Swordspoint Ellen Kushner Thomas Canty

“Anything with a Chris Foss spaceship on it,” said @Gollancz.

Chris Foss spaceships book covers Asimov

Did any of these covers strike a chord with you? Be sure to add your own favorite SFF covers in the comments!


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