Here's another entry I cut from my art book, and the first one to be about an entire theme rather than a specific artist. Somewhat ironically, I opened this write-up by talking about how rare scenes set at night were, and that same rarity is why I wasn't able to find replacement artists when the ones I wanted fell through for a variety of reasons.
Nighttime is a rarer concept on ‘70s science-fiction covers than one might think. Perhaps publishers’ common mandate to keep things colorful dissuaded artists from the idea. Maybe it was confusion over whether “night” even exists on a planet where rotation speed, light sources, and atmosphere don’t match Earth’s. Still, it’s easy to see the quiet beauty in a silent alien night, when what you don’t see matters as much as what you do.
The domed outpost, always a popular motif, looks even more vulnerable in contrast with a beautiful but inhospitable darkness, as Steve R. Dodd and Alfred Kelsner both know.
Alien nights also justify flipping on the spaceship searchlights, increasing the exploratory mood, as in Chris Foss’s 1973 art for Isaac Asimov’s Earth Is Room Enough.
Michael Böhme serves up consistently amazing nighttime images, plunging a scene in darkness while outlining a mountain range in dewy light blue or a domed base in warm yellows.
One work, Pyramidenstadt, brings a night to life with countless stars, glowing foliage, and the twinkling lights of a pyramid city.
That's all I wrote for that entry!
I cut for a lot of reasons: I was never able to get in touch with Alfred Kelsner, due to both a language barrier and the fact he has no online presence whatsoever; I dropped Michael Böhme because his body of work (mostly '90s-2000s) was too modern; and Chris Foss's licensing fee was one of the pricier ones, so I cut any images that I didn't absolutely need.
I very likely could have gotten the Steve R Dodd, but (I believe) it was unpublished, as Dodd didn't have a long career, making his work a bit off topic for an art collection that aims to be a history of that era. I've linked to this in the past, but check out this short documentary about Dodd for more about him.
Even the one alternate image that I had thrown in – this stellar 1981 cover art by Ken Barr for Night of Masks, by Andre Norton – fell through when I couldn't get in touch with Barr's estate at all.
There are a few more night-centric sci-fi and space artworks that I could have turned too, but very few that actually capture that "alien landscape" feel. Here's an interesting uncredited one, a 1983 cover for The Spirit of Dorsai, by Gordon R. Dickson:
This 1976 Don Davis NASA concept is half-nightfall – which highlights how mallable the astronomical concept of "night" itself is.
Perhaps this late-70s Battlestar Galactica concept art by Ralph McQuarrie points out why nighttime sci-fi art is rare: I love McQuarrie so much, but this particular piece strikes me as very muddy!
Finally, here's a fun, undated Chris Moore. This one's more of an eclipse image than a nighttime one – and eclipses honestly deserve their own newsletter.
I have some more examples over on my "night" tag on Tumblr, if you want to keep looking at some great art. Just look how adorable this one is!