Arrakis. Dune. Desert Planet.
August 17, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

"I can envision no more perfect visual representation of my Dune world than John Schoenherr’s careful and accurate illustrations." –Frank Herbert
posted by griphus (17 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up looking at those images, before I even read the books, and I'm glad that I did. Whenever I visit Arrakis in my mind I picture Schoenherr's work. The scale and feeling of these illustrations are just perfect.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:00 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a real awe to 60s and early 70s SF art that exists between the in-your-face Weird Alien Stories quality of the era that preceded it and the prosaic yes-I-can-see-how-that-works technophilia that followed. A lot of it was like this, having both a majesty and mystery; a sense of both incomprehensible strangeness and very convincing scale. These are among the best of a very large lot. It's a pity that neither of the screen versions tried very hard to capture it. Hell, neither of them even tried to depict ornithopters. In terms of visual design John Carter of Mars succeeds better than either of them. Pity it fails as a movie in most other regards.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

(In fairness, I actually liked Lynch's Dune visually in its own right, but as a distinct work on its own: it doesn't satisfy my wish to see Dune as Herbert imagined it.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

It's a pity CGI doesn't work like old moviemaking did. There'd be great SF to be made out of John Carter's resources if someone could just buy all the props and costumes secondhand, rent out the sets, and shoot a completely different movie.
posted by griphus at 1:39 PM on August 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

Some of this artwork I hadn't seen before. It really captures the atmosphere of the place.
posted by arcticseal at 1:46 PM on August 17, 2013

John Schoenherr was truly amazing as an SF artist. I used to subscribe to Analog magazine in the mid-70s, primarily during Ben Bova's tenure, and Schoenherr's covers were hands down my favorites. Dune illustrations aside, I think my favorite was his cover for Gordon R. Dickson's "The Far Call"
posted by hwestiii at 2:01 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really dug his "Paul riding the worm" pic.
posted by Samizdata at 2:06 PM on August 17, 2013

These are the first representations I ever saw of sandworms, before I ever read the books, and they were what I imagined as I read the books.

As mentioned above, Schoenherr was a frequent cover artist for Analog, and his representations of science fiction were uncluttered with the sorts of doodads many sci fi illustrators stuck on their technology to make it feel futuristic. He had a great eye for representing scale, and so when he placed people into space or machinery, he really captured what science fiction does best -- not impress us with futuristic-looking gadgets, but instead make us marvel at possibilities.

I love this one, where a man in a space suit seems to be mountain climbing, but instead of there being ground below him, there is the vastness of space, as though, were he to lose his gripping, he would tumble away forever.

And there's this one, where a huge extended finger is twirling the atmosphere of earth, turning it into a hurricane.

He was great at drawing aliens, too, from this comforting octopus to this monk-like floating fellow. He had a lifelong interest in zoology and was extremely adept at painting animals, so he was, in so many ways, the perfect artist for Dune.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:08 PM on August 17, 2013 [9 favorites]

posted by Windopaene at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got a children's book for my daughter called Owl Moon and noticed how good the art was. Then noticed it was by Schoenherr. Awesome!
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:05 PM on August 17, 2013

And there's this one, where a huge extended finger is twirling the atmosphere of earth, turning it into a hurricane.

I'm pretty sure he's stealing a taste of Earth's creamy frosting.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:03 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Breathtaking, evocative stuff.

Obligatory link to Mike G's amazing Dune Mix.
posted by pixelrevolt at 8:06 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Apparently Schoenherr also did some "lad mag" cover illustrations, like most illustrators breaking into the industry at the time.

I also really liked Lynch's Dune, a lot of the visuals were definitely informed from Schoenherr's illustrations. However when reading it, I still see every character in my mind's eye as I originally imagined except for Paul Muad'dib. After seeing the movie, I couldn't imagine him as anyone other than Kyle MacLachlan.
posted by porpoise at 10:35 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

So that's what the ornithopters were supposed to look like!
posted by digitalprimate at 12:47 AM on August 18, 2013

That's interesting, porpoise, because the choice of MacLachlan is one of my problems with the Lunch version. I like him as an actor, but I feel he was much too old for the role - Paul is supposed to be 15 when the story begins. MacLachlan was 24 when shooting began.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2013

Calvin & Muad'Dib
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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