Book/Magazine Covers (All) · Dean Ellis · Illustration Art · Look Here · Samuel R. Delany · Vincent Di Fate · Vincent Segrelles

Look Here: Seven covers for seven novels by Samuel R. Delany

Back in the 1970s, beginning (I think) with the first-edition paperback of Dhalgren, Bantam Books initiated a project to (re)print Samuel R. Delany’s novels under a unified design, which they also used for some other SF novels, such as Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. I have seven of Delany’s novels that were published under the new design in my collection, and of those seven my four favourites just happen to be among the ones for which I have been able to determine, with a tiny bit of sleuthing, the identity of the cover artist. My favourites are Babel-17, with cover art by Vincent Segrelles (well-known in comics circles for his series, The Mercenary); Nova, with art by Eddie Jones; Dhalgren, with art by Dean Ellis; and Triton, with art by Mitchell Hooks.

And here’s a fun bit of observational trivia. If you look closely at the cover of Triton, you’ll find that the artist, Hooks, has painted his dramatic, futuristic moon base from a model constructed of mundane props from around the house — small oil cans, chess pieces, a feathered dart, a dart tip, ink bottles, a shaving mirror, and so on — cleverly arranged on a tabletop.

Anyway… enough with the preamble! Here are my scans, displayed in order of their original publication; please note, however, that the dates in the file names are not the first-publication dates but the dates of the editions/printings of the books that I own:

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]

As you can see above, I have two copies of Triton in my collection. What I find interesting here is that the earlier printing, from 1976, has the title printed in a sort of metallic ink, while the later printing, from 1979, does not. Was this an aesthetic choice or a cost-saving measure for a book that was not selling as well as had been expected, given the runaway success of Delany’s previous novel, Dhalgren? I suspect the latter.

Dhalgren, The Einstein Intersection, and The Ballad of Beta-2 also have titles printed in “metallic” ink; The Jewels of Aptor, Babel-17, and Nova do not.


RELATED IMAGE (previously posted here):

6 thoughts on “Look Here: Seven covers for seven novels by Samuel R. Delany

  1. I loved these covers! Really beautiful stuff. The covers of 70s paperbacks were as exciting as the books!

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  2. Triton, Dahlgren and Nova were special books from my youth. My copies with these covers are long gone. Any suggestions on how to find copies for sale?

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  3. I don’t have any secret method, Jeff. I just do what everyone else does. If money is no object, or one is simply in a rush to have the books in hand, ebay and abebooks are very good choices. Value Village and the Salvation Army Thrift Store are a possibility, although in my experience, one has to make the rounds regularly — say, once a week, or once every two weeks — over a long period of time in order to get what one wants, and even then, many books remain elusive. And finally, if/when you travel, used-book stores in unfamiliar towns and cities are always worth a look; store locations and directions are generally very easy to find online these days.

    Good luck with your search!

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  4. One thing to keep in mind is that, if you only have a few books that you are looking for, it will certainly be more cost effective, despite the sometimes exorbitant shipping fees, to buy from ebay and abebooks. As for me, well, I tend to browse through thrift stores, etc., with a mental list of items that I will buy if the condition is good and the price is right, and that list includes not just books but picture frames, electronics, clothing, items that I can re-purpose for art making, and so on. Also, I just enjoy being in bookstores and browsing through junk. So for me, the cost of transportation is worth it. I save money, and I am entertained at the same time.

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  5. Hello,
    Somehow stumbled across the above and was fascinated. You may or may not know of my own versions of those Delaney covers (should be able to google them) done in the late 80’s. I had no knowledge of any of those covers you show, when I did mine, nor any guidance from the editor. I just went, as I always do by a gut instinct. And yet the mood definitely mirrors many of them, particularly Dahlgren. Thank you for sharing these. Very thought provoking.
    Best wishes, John Harris.

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