The Many Covers of the First Novel I Ever Read

Cover art by–I’m guessing–Dean Ellis

My father used to bring home the occasional book from work. He worked for a utility company, and guys who read on their breaks would leave books behind for others to read.

I remember being in bed sick for a couple of days. But without documentation, how can I know this is the case?

My father came home one day and gave me a comic book adaptation of The Invisible Man.

I  think it’s this one. Date seems about right.

He also gave me THE LAST PLANET by Andre Norton. I didn’t read it right away, but I was fascinated by the cover art showing a white starship coming in for a hard landing–this is actually what happens right before the book starts. The cover shows the backstory.

Previous covers were a lot less my style.

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While the one above is too old-fashioned (aka “old school”) the one below is by Richard Powers. It’s cool, but the original really fits the book beautifully, setting the tone of mystery that leads to an ending that’s pretty obvious to an adult. To a kid, I didn’t really understand it until much later.

I’ll mention it below this cover.

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The old faithful, “The deserted planet we crashed on is earth!” It kind of makes sense in context, he said weakly.

I haven’t read any others in the series, but Norton was pretty consistent, i.e. all her books are pretty much like all the others. She was a big seller, but since her audience was of kids who liked sci-fi, she got zero critical attention for most of her long career. I suspect she’s known by a lot more readers than many other writers. Just check out her publishing history. The woman wrote cleanly and effectively i.e. she churned ’em out.

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Not a bad cover to show some diversity–the crew is made up of aliens and humans, ala the later Star Trek show you might be familiar with.

The latest cover I’m aware of is actually the one closest to a scene in the book.


THE LAST PLANET/STAR RANGERS is a fun book, nothing you need to read. The cover is still the standard for book covers of adventure sci-fi for me. It makes me hope the book inside is going to live up to the cover.

This one did.