15 Objectively Terrible Sci-Fi/Fantasy Paperback Covers

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Colin Greenland’s Harms Way cover at left is nothing too terrible – it fulfills what a sci-fi cover is supposed to deliver: an illustration of what’s going on between the covers with a composition that creates a fair amount of interest to lure readers in.  That same book (at right) can also look like a cheap Harlequin romance and serve as a gross and shameful misrepresentation of the novel….. those are the type we’re going to look at today.  Enjoy.



I can only assume what’s in that syringe straightens a bad home-perm.


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I think a bearded man with lady-breasts with the body of a lion being dry-humped by a slug-unicorn giving birth to eggs bearing demon monkeys qualifies as “strange relations”, don’t you?


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One of Hitler’s scientists cryogenically freezes himself, thawing out in the 21st century.  What follows is as ridiculously lame as the cover would indicate.


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What kind of godawful alien is that lurking in the back?  Is it a floating bread roll with fangs?   This is not good.  Not good at all.


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I’m sure albino tiger-woman is not lifting this unicorn upon her back, but it’s still a dazzling piece of poor composition.



Heinlein’s Number of the Beast had nothing to do with stormtroopers , of course; but that didn’t stop this cover from riding the Star Wars gravy train.



Sorry, Kansas.  The gods hate you.



The covers on the Laser Books all had the same format: a big head in the foreground and something weird going on in the background. It’s like they discovered photobombing way before the Internet.

I should also mention that is by Kelly Freas, the man who created the look for Alfred E. Neuman in MAD.  He was also a sci-fi cover master – suffice it to say, this isn’t one of his better works.



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This ‘cosmic custodian’ should probably ease up on the eye shadow just a little if he wants to be taken seriously by the Prophets of Evil.


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You know you’re a badass when you literally use young women as your loincloths.  It can be a bit cumbersome, but it’s worth it.


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I haven’t the slightest idea what’s going on here, and not the slightest desire to find out.


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What’s with the obsession with the female backside in sci-fi/fantasy artwork?  I understand it’s a grand tradition starting with Frazettat then Valejo… but it could get a tad ridiculous (as with the cover above).


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…like I said – ‘a tad ridiculous’.


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The leaping tiger with the face of a bearded Sean Connery transcends the ability of human speech to convey its awfulness.  Truly a low watermark in the history of sci-fi covers and a fitting end to this list.

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