Oct 23, 2013

Book Review: Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss

Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss

If I had to describe modern Science Fiction in a couple of words, I would say that it is gritty, dark and monochromatic. Like any other art genre, SF art has gone through a variety of different visual phases. The modern genre is absolutely exploding in all media from video games to film, Sci Fi is firmly cemented in the mainstream style lexicon.

My previous exposure to Chris Foss' work has mainly been seeing it in small format, gracing the cover of any number of pocket sized novels from the 70's. The sort of books you would see in large stacks in the Sci Fi section of your local used book store. So when I first opened this lush and large format coffee table book, I knew immediately that I was in for a visual treat.

Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss immediately evokes an emotional response. His illustrations featuring large space craft or distant worlds are rich with visual storytelling. The colors are bright and his tone speaks of an optimism found in an era where the global space program was filled with nothing but opportunity.

Working in a pre digital age, the art is naturally textured and the presence of the artist's hand is felt on the construction and execution of each piece. One major complaint about modern SF and Fantasy illustration is that fact that the sheer volume of it being produced creates an environment of sameness. Artists are influenced by familiar themes and tropes because they cant help but to be over exposed to them.

Lucky for us, Chris comes from an era before all this. The words he creates are heavily influenced by the visual language of post WWII Britain.. His spacecraft look like they could have been natural evolutions of great colonial battleships or some strange offspring born of the birth of automation. The ideas are unhindered, making the visuals fresh.

In the end, I found that this book was very different from the rest of my collection in every positive way possible. I enjoyed looking at space illustration that was filled with a confident optimism, and if that appeals to you, then this is definitely a must buy!