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

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.

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

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

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The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, Ted Chiang

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The Islanders, Christopher Priest

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Wild Seed, Octavia Butler

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Another version of Wild Seed, Octavia Butler, equally gorgeous

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Thuvia, Maid of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

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The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Carol Emshwiller

Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

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Another lovely version of Oryx and Crake

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Trafalgar Angélica Gorodischer

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

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What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler

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Aurorarama, Jean Christophe Valtat

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A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin

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

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

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The Dancers of Noyo, Margaret S. Clair

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

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And the even lovelier version we all know.

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The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

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

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Red Planet, Robert A. Heinlein

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

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The Alchemy of Stone, Ekaterina Sedia

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Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks

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Rainbow’s End, Vernor Vinge

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Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon

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The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard