Homo hydrogenensis n a new stage of human existence characterized by ontological insecurity in a nuclear world. Also known as 'Eniwetok man' after the Pacific atoll requisitioned by the USA for atomic weapons tests following World War II. The term was coined by J G Ballard in his short story, The Terminal Beach (1964).

In the mid-1960s Penguin's chief editor, Tony Godwin, decided popular fiction needed a separate art director and over a pint in a pub one day (or so the story goes) he gave the job to a young illustrator at The Sunday Times Magazine named Alan Aldridge. Aldridge had already done some freelance Penguin covers and would go on to work with Andy Warhol, Elton John, The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones, but when he arrived at Penguin in March 1965 he was still in his early twenties and yet to make his mark. One of his first Penguin covers was for My Enemy's Enemy by Kingsley Amis, which includes the science fiction story Something Strange.

KINGSLEY AMIS Something Strange, 1965 My Enemy's Enemy (2346) by Kingsley Amis

Seven short stories, first published as a collection in 1962.

Published by Penguin Books September 1965 with a cover illustration by Alan Aldridge.

Includes the sf story Something Strange, which had been published in The Spectator
in November 1960 and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in July 1961.

As a subseries of the fiction list sf also passed to Aldridge and twelve months after his arrival the covers of the Penguin sf series underwent a radical transformation. The layout of the logo and typography was similar to the Marber grid but the grid itself had gone, and apart from two reprints the pairing of sf with modern art went too. In its place came black covers and a window offset towards the lower right corner for the artwork, which now featured a variety of photographic styles and coloured illustrations.

FREDERIK POHL Alternating Currents, 1966 Alternating Currents (2452) by Frederik Pohl

Ten short stories, first published as a collection in 1956.

Published by Penguin Books March 1966 with cover photography by Erich Hartmann.
The Children of the Night replaces Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus in the 1956 edition.

The Children of the Night
The Ghost-Maker
Let the Ants Try
The Mapmakers
Rafferty's Reasons
Target One
Grandy Devil
The Tunnel Under the World
What to do Until the Analyst Comes

Some covers worked and some didn't, but either way Aldridge's black magic had a disturbing effect on the penguin logo, which suffered an unpleasant identity crisis. First it abandoned its roundel to float wraithlike on the cover of Alternating Currents, then it began to re-materialize on Edgar Pangborn's Martian chronicle A Mirror for Observers. Following that it changed from purple to orange and was then born again as a black-and-white bird in a fat new roundel where it lay, somewhat psychotically, in an egg-shaped pool of orange yolk. But it never settled and its appearance changed from book to book, as did the colour of the sf banner.

EDGAR PANGBORN A Mirror for Observers, 1966 A Mirror for Observers (2454) by Edgar Pangborn

First published 1954.

Published by Penguin Books April 1966 with cover photography by Stokes/Common.
CYRIL JUDD Gunner Cade, 1966 Gunner Cade (2460) by Cyril Judd

First published March–May 1952 as a three-part serial in Astounding magazine.

Published by Penguin Books June 1966 with cover photography by Ian Yeomans.

Someone must have pointed out that apart from a story in the first « Penguin Science Fiction » anthology there were no female writers in the series because suddenly two turned up, like buses. First to arrive was Judith Merril who co-wrote Gunner Cade with fellow American Cyril Kornbluth under the pen-name of Cyril Judd. And right behind Merril was Susan Cooper, whose debut novel Mandrake is a curious treatment on the theme of planetary consciousness, set against a backdrop of nuclear proliferation and Cold War paranoia.

SUSAN COOPER Mandrake, 1966 Mandrake (2491) by Susan Cooper

First published 1964.

Published by Penguin Books August 1966 with cover photography by Michael Busselle.
J G BALLARD The Terminal Beach, 1966 The Terminal Beach (2499) by J G Ballard

Twelve short stories, first published as a collection in 1964.

Published by Penguin Books September 1966 with cover photography by Enzo Ragazzini.

A Question of Re-entry
The Drowned Giant
The Illuminated Man
The Reptile Enclosure
The Delta at Sunset
The Terminal Beach
Deep End
The Volcano Dances
The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon
The Lost Leonardo

If a picture paints a thousand words then the one on the cover of The Terminal Beach adds a thirteenth story to Ballard's dozen for here is a typical seaside scene, a day on the beach like any other until the moment of the photograph. For the camera has captured a man-made hell and the brief buckling of space and time as a thermonuclear explosion fuses sand and sunbathers into a single vitrified image. Ballard, however, did not see it like that and described the cover as 'a dismal flop'.

FREDERIK POHL Drunkard's Walk, 1966 Drunkard's Walk (2521) by Frederik Pohl

First published June–August 1960 as a two-part serial in Galaxy magazine.

Published by Penguin Books October 1966 with a cover illustration by Kenneth Randall.

Drunkard's Walk is a futuristic farce in which immortal telepaths use mind control to force any 'normals' they regard as a threat to commit suicide. When a young, happy and popular professor of mathematics is targeted he discovers that the way to fend off such attacks is with a bottle of whisky, thus setting up perhaps the daftest dénouement ever written as the professor and police stagger around like the Keystone Cops in boozy pursuit of the sinister superhumans.

ROBERT A HEINLEIN The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, 1966 The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (2510) by Robert A Heinlein

A novella and five short stories, first published as a collection in 1959.

Published by Penguin Books November 1966 with a cover illustration by Alan Aldridge.

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag
The Man Who Travelled in Elephants
—All You Zombies—
Our Fair City
—And He Built a Crooked House—
ALFRED BESTER The Demolished Man, 1966 The Demolished Man (2536) by Alfred Bester

First published January–March 1952 as a three-part serial in Galaxy magazine.

Published by Penguin Books December 1966 with cover photography by Lester Waldman.
FREDERIK POHL and C M KORNBLUTH Wolfbane, 1967 Wolfbane (2561) by Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth

First published October–November 1957 as a two-part serial in Galaxy magazine.

Published by Penguin Books February 1967. The cover photography is unattributed.
RAY BRADBURY The Day it Rained Forever, 1966 The Day it Rained Forever (1878) by Ray Bradbury

1966 reprint with cover photography by Romek Marber.

A reprint of The Day it Rained Forever in 1966 replaced the Max Ernst painting on its previous cover with a photograph of coloured dolls' faces peering like prisoners through a bottle-glass window. What this was meant to signify is anyone's guess, although the creator of the Marber grid presumably knew since he was the man behind the camera.

OLAF STAPLEDON Last and First Men, 1966 Last and First Men (1875) by Olaf Stapledon

1966 reprint with a foreword by Brian Aldiss.
The cover illustration is by Dennis Rolfe.

The 1966 reprint of Last and First Men replaced the dreary cover that launched Penguin's sf series three years earlier and corrected the blurb on the book's back cover so the timescale of the story was two billion years instead of a mere two thousand. However, the blurb now seemed to be referring not to the new cover but something else entirely. 'The infinite and icy perspectives of a surrealist painting give form to Stapledon's vision of the future', it said, as if recalling the alien landscapes of Yves Tanguy used for Hal Clement's « Mission of Gravity » and J G Ballard's « The Drowned World ».

Stapledon's novel deserved a work of art and perhaps this had originally been intended, although the little silhouette of a man etched against a low Sun neatly captures the scale of Stapledon's story, from the first man staring at the Sun as it rises across the savannah to the last man standing as the same star sets two billion years later.

FRED and GEOFFREY HOYLE Fifth Planet, 1967 Fifth Planet (2244) by Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle

1967 reprint showing a detail from The Flavour of Tears (La saveur des larmes, 1948) by René Magritte, at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Brussels.
HARRY HARRISON Deathworld, 1966 Deathworld (2095) by Harry Harrison

1966 reprint showing a detail from Citron (circa 1952–57) by Pavel Tchelitchew.

Aldridge's experiments with different banner and logo colours finally paid off on the 1966 reprint of Deathworld. For this he brought back the black and white penguin but placed it in a mauve roundel with a white border and matched it with a banner in the same cool mauve. This softened the monochrome glare of white typography on a black cover and restored a sense of balance which the other covers lacked. The use of black, white and mauve brought together for the first time the distinctive livery that would become synonymous with Penguin sf covers in the years that followed.