Monday, February 27, 2023

Pulp Fantasy Gallery: Hiero's Journey

Since this will likely be the last Pulp Fantasy Gallery post for a while, I thought I'd change things up a bit and go for something a little different this week. Sterling Lanier's 1973 novel, Hiero's Journey, is a work of post-apocalyptic science fantasy of which I am very fond. It also enjoys the unique distinction of being mentioned by name in both Gary Gygax's Appendix N and Tom Wham and Timothy Jones's foreword to the first edition of Gamma World. 

While I'll have a lot more to say about Gamma World over the course of the next week or so, right now I want to focus only on the cover illustrations to Hiero's Journey. Here's the original one, from a hardcover published by Chilton with artwork by Jack Freas. The cover would be re-used for a 1975 hardcover from Sidgwick & Jackson.

The following year, Bantam released a paperback edition as part of its "Frederik Pohl Selection" series. The cover artist is unknown.
1976 saw the arrival of yet another paperback, this time from Panther, with art by Gino D'Achille. This is the first cover that clearly depicts something from the novel. Note, too, the cover blurb invoking The Lord of the Rings, which, by this time, had become the gold standard for the broader "fantasy" genre.
Del Rey/Ballantine's 1983 edition is the one I owned as a kid. The cover is especially memorable to me, thanks to the artwork of Darrell K. Sweet. This cover would be re-used several times over the course of the next decade.
Thanks to the Science Fiction Book Club, the novel gets a new cover by Kevin Johnson in 1984.
A new Panther edition appeared in 1985, with yet another cover by Gino D'Achille, making him the only artist to illustrate the novel twice. Interestingly, his second cover looks to be a variation on the scene depicted on the 1976 edition.


  1. The '83 Sweet cover's the only one I've ever seen. Clearly did its job properly, I bought the book blind just based on curiosity about what the heck was going on to produce that scene.

  2. How did Sterling Lanier pronounce his surname? I can think of at least five different possible pronunciations.

    1. I honestly don't know. In my head, I'm always pronounced it lah-NEER, but I don't know if that's correct. (Much like I didn't know until about 10 years ago that Dave Trampier pronounced his surname TRAHMP-ee-ay.)

  3. I read a comment that Lanier's book also inspired the original D&D psionic system. Do you see any sign of that?