30 of the Most Beautiful Sci-Fi Book Covers Ever Made

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Science fiction cover art has a bad reputation. Not without reason: much of it is pulpy, overly brash, or just plain scary — it’s kind of the name of the game. Yet there are also plenty of science fiction novels and collections that buck the trend and manage to be not only palatable to those that (for instance) love the insides but hate that naked green woman on the cover, but downright gorgeous. After the jump, a selection of some of the best, from vintage paperbacks to new and shiny hardcovers. Don’t see your favorite here? Do everyone a favor and add it to the list in the comments.

The Melancholy of Mechagirl, Catherynne M. Valente, art by Yuko Shimizu

The Separation, Christopher Priest (part of this lovely set of redesigns)

The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, Ted Chiang

The Islanders, Christopher Priest

Wild Seed, Octavia Butler

Another version of Wild Seed, Octavia Butler, equally gorgeous

Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Carol Emshwiller

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

Another lovely version of Oryx and Crake

Trafalgar Angélica Gorodischer

The Unreal and the Real, Vol 2., Ursula K. Le Guin

What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler

Aurorarama, Jean Christophe Valtat

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin

Beauty Belongs To The Flowers, Matthew Sanborn Smith, art by Yuko Shimizu

The Tar-Aiym Krang, Alan Dean Foster, art by Dean Ellis 1972

The Dancers of Noyo, Margaret S. Clair

The first edition of Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

And the even lovelier version we all know.

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne (hey, it was sci-fi at the time)

Red Planet, Robert A. Heinlein

The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, Harlan Ellison

The Alchemy of Stone, Ekaterina Sedia

Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks

Rainbow’s End, Vernor Vinge

Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon

The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard