Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Beyond Science Fiction (Michael Whelan)

Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan
Michael Whelan
Baby Tattoo Books
Nonfiction, Art
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: One of the great names of science fiction and fantasy illustration, Michael Whelan has left an indelible mark on genre art... but there is more to his body of work than his iconic book covers. This collection, from an art exhibition, shares his older, familiar pieces and newer works, as he explores his personal brand of peculiar imagery. Presented with a foreword by Robert Williams.

REVIEW: In the off chance I ever manage to write a book worth selling, I still dream of having a Micheal Whelan cover for it. Though he is technically retired, that dream remains a dim possibility: he still does the occasional cover commission, as for Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series and Tad Williams's new Osten Ard books (the latter not included in this compilation.) Mostly, though, Whelan has moved on to visions from his own mind, visions that utilize his ability to realistically render impossible worlds to create some mind-twisting scenes: a child climbing a tubular ladder to nowhere, figures ascending a staircase of impossible scale toward enlightenment, a girl climbing the crumbling ruins of a world not unlike our own, bubble-encased flames adrift through peculiar landscapes, and more. His work remains astounding - if anything, he's only growing more impressive beyond the world of illustration, improvement dramatically illustrated as older works from the 1970's and 1980's are shown with his most recent output. My only real objection is that this book should've been larger, to better do justice to Whelan's details and the textures that tempt one to run one's finger over the page, checking if it's just paper or something deeper. If you're a fan of his art, or just love imaginative realism, this is a must-have book for your collection.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Myth and Magic: The Art of John Howe (John Howe) - My Review
Fantasy Art Masters (Dick Jude) - My Review
The Art of Michael Whelan (Michael Whelan) - My Review

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