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The Acrylic Age of Science Fiction
November 14, 2010 1:30 PM   Subscribe

MANCHU Starships - wonderful old school SF paintings by French illustartor Philippe Bouchet.
posted by Artw (33 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh hell yes. I'm going to plaster these all over my walls and read nothing but Iain Banks books forever.
posted by griphus at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Iain M. Banks, that is.
posted by griphus at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is some serious sensawunda.
posted by kipmanley at 1:45 PM on November 14, 2010


*The Lady's response to the visuals has been censored as too graphic for sensitive young minds in the audience*
posted by The Lady is a designer at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Badass.

Anybody else now thinking fondly of the Usborne Guide to the Future?
posted by pts at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Excellent. I think what I like about this style of SF art (as originally exemplified by Chris Foss and his contemporaries) is the way that, beyond a basic design aesthetic, why the thing you're looking at looks the way it does is something left pretty much to the imagination. The illustrations on book covers rarely bore much relation to the stories themselves; they were more of a visual B-movie to the novel's main event.

pts, I was actually remembering Spacewreck, one of the Terran Trade Authority books that I loved as a kid.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2010


As a pre-teen in the 70's, I used to spend hours and hours in bookstores and at novelty shops looking at books and posters of this style of art.

Thanks for the link, Artw!
posted by LinnTate at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2010


Holy cats, the Terran Trade Authority books sound amazing. Thank you for bringing this knowledge into my life.
posted by pts at 2:11 PM on November 14, 2010


Oh god these are yummy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:15 PM on November 14, 2010


These bring back memories of the TTA books, but these are actually better - I get a better feel for the massive SCALE of these things. One can hope we can actually build these things someday...
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:37 PM on November 14, 2010


Kudos to le morte for the best reference yet. The Terran Trade Authority is probably one of the best shared-universe sci-fi art projects ever. If you can find the original versions of the books, with paintings as opposed to the (IMHO much crappier) computer art versions in the recent re-releases, get those.
  • Spacecraft: 2000-2100 AD (orig; new 'CGI' version is '2100-2200 AD')
  • Spacewreck (as mentioned earlier)
  • Great Space Battles
  • Starliners
Others have collected TTA info over the years. The new versions are up on the web too, and despite my bias towards the originals we shouldn't discount them! TTA art has influenced many, including the game Homeworld and the needs-no-intro Babylon 5.
posted by thecustodian at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Spaceships make people happy.
posted by shothotbot at 2:59 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mmm, yes. These remind me of the Vincent di Fate (I think) cover illustrations that fired my imagination so much as a kid.
posted by hattifattener at 3:00 PM on November 14, 2010


This reminds me of Jeff Russell's STARSHIP DIMENSIONS
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although, this one bothers me a little. There's a ring of technowhatever around a really dense object like a black hole or something. Partial Einstein rings and everything, very nice. But the far side of the (artificial) ring isn't distorted at all, even though stars with a greater angular separation from the dense object are clearly showing distortion. There may be a slight inaccuracy in my sf-porn! I am outraged!
posted by hattifattener at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's because it's surrounded by Red Matter!
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on November 14, 2010


A wizard sentient AI did it.
posted by griphus at 3:12 PM on November 14, 2010


A wizard sentient AI monolith did it.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I used buy and read French hybrid choose-your-own-adventure/D&D books based entirely on this guy's cover art.
posted by furtive at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2010


This is awesome. Takes me back to being a kid and using my pocket money to buy old sci fi books at church hall jumble sales, looking at the covers and thinking, "I hope this is really cool!"
posted by carter at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2010


Absolutely terrific, thanks ArtW!
posted by smoke at 3:19 PM on November 14, 2010


I get exactly equal amounts of joy from the idea of "old school SF" and these actual images themselves, but the joy springs from very different parts of my brain.
posted by penduluum at 3:40 PM on November 14, 2010


As a pre-teen in the 70's, I used to spend hours and hours in bookstores and at novelty shops looking at books and posters of this style of art.

This. The artwork was great, even when it was fronting for really terrible books.
posted by Forktine at 4:17 PM on November 14, 2010


Although, this one bothers me a little. There's a ring of technowhatever around a really dense object like a black hole or something. Partial Einstein rings and everything, very nice. But the far side of the (artificial) ring isn't distorted at all, even though stars with a greater angular separation from the dense object are clearly showing distortion. There may be a slight inaccuracy in my sf-porn! I am outraged!

OBVIOUSLY, what the designers of the technowhatever-ring did was design the ring with a counter-distortion so that it would appear undistorted from the intended vantage point. Like designing buildings that aren't perfectly rectilinear so that they appear to the eye to be rectilinear.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:38 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like designing buildings that aren't perfectly rectilinear so that they appear to the eye to be rectilinear.

People do that? Amazing.
posted by Hoenikker at 5:18 PM on November 14, 2010


People do that? Amazing.

The Ancient Greeks did it with the Parthenon. There's a whole episode of Nova about it.
posted by griphus at 5:24 PM on November 14, 2010


I really lucked out a couple of years ago and managed to buy a first edition copy of Spacecraft: 2000-2100 AD, in mint condition, at a library sale for $1.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:57 PM on November 14, 2010


Ha-HA I just today finalized the archaeological excavations of my Terran Trade Authority and other seventies SF art books ha-HA I say
posted by mwhybark at 10:36 PM on November 14, 2010


woops, my mistake, not canon TTA but similar and possibly directly inspired by, including "Space Wars: Worlds & Weapons" with a Foss foreword. These books often included engineering drawing-style side elevations of this or that improbable structure and to my thirty-year-on eye these drawings often seem to refer to miscellaneous improbable Archigram projects.
posted by mwhybark at 10:48 PM on November 14, 2010


This one looks like an eerie pre-echo of Freespace 2
posted by Sebmojo at 12:28 AM on November 15, 2010


I had a "Galactic Encounters" book when I was a kid; too young to read the book itself very well (was 4 or 5; an early reader, and my parents thought that meant I understood at a high-school level) but I endlessly studied the art and the side-elevation diagrams mwhybark mentions. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I realized that the art was repurposed from other sources. I'm sure my mom has that book somewhere in her basement...
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:27 AM on November 15, 2010


We're never getting off this ball of dirt, are we?
posted by odinsdream at 8:21 AM on November 15, 2010


Well, we do seem to have stalled a little.
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on November 15, 2010


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