Cover to Cover: The Voyage of the Space Beagle

Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments »

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I haven’t read The Voyage of the Space Beagle yet.

I actually haven’t read anything by author A.E. van Vogt yet, even though I’ve got a few of his books sitting patiently in my pile of pulp sci-fi. This has more to do with my bad habit of grabbing more books than I can read at a time (where next thing I know I’m looking at a stack of unread novels and having a panic attack because SO MUCH TO READ) than any foot-dragging because, by most accounts. van Vogt is considered a master of the Golden Age of science fiction.

How influential was he? Maybe one of the most well-known anecdotes has to do with The Voyage of the Space Beagle, which includes the story “Black Destroyer” and has been credited as one of the inspirations for a little movie called Alien. And while the iconic creature designs of  H.R. Giger can’t be matched for personifying sheer, ferociously perfect terror, the astronaut-eating monster on this cover is nothing I’d want to mess with either.


Unfortunately, the cover illustrator isn’t credited anywhere in this 1963 edition, a common crime at the time. But a little digging reveals that the artist was most likely Richard M. Powers, a renowned sci-fi illustrator who did other work for the same publisher, including at least a couple more for van Vogt titles. If you’re ready to spiral down a rabbit hole of fantastic, 60s-era pulp art, do an image search for Powers and prepare to fall in love with your new favorite cover artist.

As a writer, van Vogt had his detractors. Many criticized his willingness to be ambiguous where both plot mechanics and story endings were concerned, but he also apparently inspired well-regarded sci-fi heavyweights like Phillip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison (a personal favorite of mine). A final verdict will have to wait until I’ve actually read the evidence for myself.

But will I ever get around to reading The Beast? Or The War Against the Rull? Masters of Time? Empire of the Atom or Future Glitter?

Back off, man — I told you, I’m gonna get to ’em. Eventually. The Voyage of the Space Beagle, though, will definitely be the first.

Hey, August Derleth liked it!


The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Cover illustration: Richard M. Powers (unconfirmed)
1963 edition (MacFadden Books)

Loading Facebook Comments ...

3 Comments on “Cover to Cover: The Voyage of the Space Beagle

  1. 1 rob! said at 4:52 pm on September 26th, 2012:

    How has someone not licensed the name “Space Beagle” for a series of CG animated kids movies? Sure, it would have nothing to do with the source material, but since when has that bothered Hollywood?

    “Ray Romano. Chris Rock. David Schwimmer. Ben Stiller. Space Beagle–Summer 2013. In space, no can hear a dog bark.”

  2. 2 jon briggs said at 6:48 am on September 27th, 2012:

    A stack of unread books?!! A stack? Like just one? And you’re having panic attacks?!! I just had to rent out storage space for all my stacks, transferring them a bit at a time. I’m lugging around a backpack full of Tim Powers. He just … he just writes so damn long!!

  3. 3 Maxo Romero said at 10:11 pm on September 30th, 2012:

    Rob: I’m pretty sure “Space Beagle” would feature a basketball playing pooch that solves crimes on the side. And, y’know, pees on your stuff. Oh, Space Beagle!

    Jon: Yes, a stack — SOME of us aren’t candidates for an episode of “Hoarders.” Actually, part of it is I really do want to read all of these books, and the more they accumulate the more I feel like I’m getting further away from it. And I haaaaaate that!

    Ha ha! I’m glad you’re getting a storage space — now I don’t have to worry so much that the cops are gonna find you buried under a pile of paperbacks.

Leave a Reply