Worlds Of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe Of Science Fiction Art by Forrest J. Ackerman with Brad Linaweaver (book review).

When I saw that Forrest J. Ackerman was the co-author of ‘Worlds Of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe Of Science Fiction Art,’ I braced myself for a deluge of puns. Surprisingly, Ackerman keeps it understated in the introduction and doesn’t even claim credit for coining the term ‘sci-fi.’ The majority of the text is penned by Brad Linaweaver across four chapters, although Ackerman introduces only three of them. The book’s main draw is the covers of 275 US magazines, most of which were new to me. The rationale for dividing the book into four chapters seems a bit arbitrary, as each chapter starts with a subject—locations, travelling, robots, and war—before branching out or stretching the concept.

Chapter 3 focuses on robots. Here, Ackerman and Linaweaver argue that in the early days, people didn’t necessarily want humanoid robots, as depicted in ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’ by Karel Capek. Instead, they wanted robots to look like, well, robots. An amusing error crops up on page 121, where Eando Binder is described as a ‘husband and wife team’—news that would likely have surprised brothers Earl and Otto Binder.

Ackerman bows out of introducing Chapter 4, which is about science fiction wars, due to his own involvement in the subject matter. Anyone—or any alien—perusing the cover art would likely sense a feeling of xenophobia as humanity is put under threat. Notably, on page 163, there’s a ‘Thrilling Wonder Stories’ cover that inspired the Jimmy Olsen cover featuring the Turtle Man.

If you’re keen to explore a rich array of early magazine and some book covers from the 1950s, this book is a visual treat. Much of the art is identified, and it all exudes a certain charm. If you’ve been collecting science fiction art books and haven’t snagged this one yet, it’s definitely worth adding to your collection.

GF Willmetts

September 2023

(pub: Collectors Press, 2004. 176 page illustrated large hardback. Price: varies. ISBN: 1-888054-93-X)


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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