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October 1, 2011 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Chris Foss: The Joy of Starships (More Chris Foss here)
posted by Artw (35 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Chris Foss: the bane of the fourth edition of Traveller.

But other than that he's fine. I did not know he did so much work for Omni but I probably should have guessed.
posted by GuyZero at 3:53 PM on October 1, 2011


What did he do to Traveller?
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on October 1, 2011


He illustrated the 4th edition books. His work is fine, but it's not on sync with the source material in the least. Traveller is also basically only loved by grognards these days, who of course hate everything, so it was a bad combination.
posted by GuyZero at 3:57 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


er, in sync
posted by GuyZero at 3:57 PM on October 1, 2011


Hey, if you're good enoughto illustrate The Joy of Sex you;re good enough to illustrate an RPG.

Though, yeah, I casn see where that might not marry up. An actual Foss themed RPG would be great though - Classes would include Spaceship, Asteroid, Giant Robot and Bare Distinguishable Tiny Figure.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hey, if you're good enoughto illustrate The Joy of Sex you;re good enough to illustrate an RPG.

As long as we don't have to see The Joy of Sex: The RPG, I will accept your point.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:18 PM on October 1, 2011


You know, the illos in The Joy of Sex were an early formative experience but, WTF? He didn't read or even ask about the contents of any of the novels for which he drew covers? Fuck that guy. Crap like this makes me glad that I had to self-publish. At least the fucking cover has something to do with the book inside.
posted by localroger at 4:28 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


His hardcover collection is an absolute steal on Amazon.co.uk. Glee!
posted by rory at 4:31 PM on October 1, 2011


I'd always wondered why the covers of the Elijah Baley novels made no fucking sense.
posted by Leon at 4:41 PM on October 1, 2011


Localroger, I don't know if you were around in the 1970s or reading UK-published SF then, but as a young kid who was both, I loved that his covers weren't prosaic illustrations of scenes from the books. They added a whole extra dimension to the book as object, taking your imagination off to amazing places before you'd even opened the cover, and were beautiful to look at. When I saw my first American SF paperbacks in the early 1980s I couldn't believe how dull they were by comparison.

Here's another article with some more interview material from Foss.
posted by rory at 4:41 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird, i had a book called "Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD" from 1978 and from "Terran Trade Authority Handbook". Almost all the art looks like his, but don't see his name anywhere, not sure if they are the imitators he talked about. It's all pretty crazy like his though, and when i was young i really let my imagination go crazy to the images. Sadly, the "Key historical dates" didn't happen, as this year the lunar station is operational and next year work starts on Mars Station. ;)
posted by usagizero at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Joy of Sex: The RPG

Isn't White Wolf publishing that?
posted by Grimgrin at 4:56 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of know a guy that wrote a d20 version.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on October 1, 2011


Weird, i had a book called "Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD" from 1978 and from "Terran Trade Authority Handbook".

Man, I've been trying to figure out the name of that book for about two decades. It was such a weird, awesome book.

Isn't White Wolf publishing that?

Am I having sex with the darkness yet? I cast MAGIC MISSLE!
posted by loquacious at 5:01 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


IIRC Terran Trade Authority is imitators rather than Foss himself.
posted by Artw at 5:05 PM on October 1, 2011


I had the Spacewrecks TTA book when I was a kid, loved it. Have to go dig for it next time I'm at my parents.
posted by arcticseal at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2011


I remember the Spacewrecks one, too. My local library had a ton of those books. I'll have to see if I can find copies at my current local library.

If I'm recalling correctly some of the paintings were really surreal if not outright dark or disturbing, and most were serious daydream material. Others were more or less abstract or modern art painting barely covered by the disguise of being space opera art.
posted by loquacious at 5:10 PM on October 1, 2011


Some of the most Chris Foss-esque ones in those books were by Peter Elson and Colin Hay. Some of their pictures are absolutely wonderful, too.

Also I had a lovely Chris Foss jigsaw puzzle when I was little. I always liked how exactly the amount of pieces in it was given on the box. None of this rounding down to the nearest hundred rubbish.
posted by dng at 5:16 PM on October 1, 2011


For a guy that's pissed about people copying him, he seems to have no problem doing the same thing to others, like John Berkey.
posted by chronkite at 5:19 PM on October 1, 2011


loquacious, yes, I recall brooding stories about settler ships crash landing on arid planets accompanied by art of alien skeletons half buried in sand dunes.
posted by arcticseal at 6:36 PM on October 1, 2011


Another great post from Artw!
posted by KokuRyu at 6:40 PM on October 1, 2011


I've got a couple of TTA books here, and they do indeed include Foss' work, as well as striking imitations. His were always my favorites.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2011


With Foss, I think an author would have success in commissioning the cover and then writing the novel to suit. His work is the result of a top-tier imagination, and it would be a privilege and a delight to live inside his world, to flesh it out with story and song.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 PM on October 1, 2011


To be fair, as long as your novel is awesome and features a spaceship then most of the time a Foss cover is going to fit it.
posted by Artw at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2011


One for Iain Banks fans...

Clear Air Turbulence
posted by Artw at 9:23 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhere I have a copy of one of the TTA spinoff books--Space Patrol: The Official Guide to the Galactic Security Force. My younger self paged through it enough that the binding started to fall apart.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:00 PM on October 1, 2011


I love Foss! I'm not really surprised that he never used to read the books he was doing the covers for; from what I remember of that kind of SF you could put most of the books into the categories "spaceships", "robots" or "spaceships and robots" and pretty much any cover which got the basic elements of the category correct would have fit.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 10:15 PM on October 1, 2011


Clear Air Turbulence

Not Foss, but a couple of tries at the CAT from CP: 1 2. Lots of other well-executed Banksiana there too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 PM on October 1, 2011


Speaking of role playing games, Morrigan Press released a Terran Trade Authority RPG back in 2005 or so, complete with a forward by Stewart Cowley. In it, he states "There were four books and eight spin-off projects including an abortive film script between 1978 and about 1980."

More Terran Trade Authority love.

And speaking as an old grognard, Foss's art was the least of Traveller 4's problems.
posted by moonbiter at 12:42 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I saw one of his books at a friend's house when I was about 10, and was blown away. Spent about 5 years drawing them on every available surface - rows and rows of little lights, aerials, big numbers ... I don't think he as ever gotten the recognition for the influence he had. Have Diary Of A Spaceperson on the shelf now.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:15 AM on October 2, 2011


Haha, yes! Every book mentioned so far in this thread is sitting in a box in my dad's crawlspace, all mine. The hours I spent just staring and grokking that beautiful stuff...
posted by Meatbomb at 5:32 AM on October 2, 2011


Another TTA fan here. I spent hours and hours with that book as a child.

I just bought the Foss book and it's great.
posted by gen at 6:07 AM on October 2, 2011


With Foss, I think an author would have success in commissioning the cover and then writing the novel to suit.

i would love, love. love to see a movie in his 'universe', plot be damned, i could just stare at the screen for hours and hours. the less that is explained, the better. ;)
posted by usagizero at 6:39 AM on October 2, 2011


I suspect any of the novels of the British New Space Opera movement could be adapted into just that.
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on October 2, 2011


I like his spaceships, but I've never liked how... stripey... they all are.

I suppose it makes for a colorful book cover.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:31 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


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