POWERS' WOMEN

Like any artist-for-hire, Richard M. Powers was occasionally called upon to draw pretty girls. Powers' women are invariably svelte and classically featured, more like goddesses than the conventional girl next door. Psychologist Carl Jung would call these women "animas," which is to say that they are not real women but reflections of the artist himself, archetypes from the unconscious that embody his worst fears and/or his highest aspirations.

THE SIRENS OF TITAN (Dell First Edition 1959)was Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s second novel, published - in paperback - at a time when the Establishment still considered Vonnegut to be just another sci-fi hack. Note the cover blurb which doesn't even hint at the book's satirical nature. Powers' classic cover is a remarkably successful blend of the abstract (those tower-like structures in the background), the surreal (the robot creature in the foreground), and the commercial (the scantilly-dressed space sirens).



PARTICLE THEORY (Pocket Books 1981) by Edward Bryant is a collection of SF-themed short stories. The detail above illustrates a story called "The Thermals of August" about future Colorado residents who ritually court and battle in mechanical hang gliders. Powers' cover painting, however, suggests something more. The woman in Powers' painting is half-human, half-bird. Her wings are not mechanical constructs but extensions of her body or - perhaps - her spirit. She is an angel, rising Phoenix-like from the flames below.


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