Flights of Fancy
Some of these futures are comfortably distant, and others were a tad silly to hypothesize even in the late 1970s when they were produced, but ah, the paintings, the paintings... With artists like Jim Burns, Angus McKie, and Colin Hay, one simply cannot go wrong! Below are covers, plus a small sampling of these books’ beautiful interiors.
And in addition to scans from my slightly tattered copy of Planet Story, here is the original painting that was reproduced on pages 40 and 41. The book doesn’t give a title per se, but Jim Burns, the artist himself, refers to it as “Into This Elysian Scene Plunged RRAGG” (Railroad and Ground Grader), so that’s good enough for me! Everything about this piece is classic Jim Burns: the richness of color, the movement in not only foreground and background but even midground, the abundance of detail from the skin texture, expression, and even wilting flower of the watcher, through the splashes of the thrown rock all about the boat and the gondolier's attempted escape, to the marble-like borders with concerned Pvt. Parrts above and alien musicians below—absolutely lovely.
For a better look at some of that gorgeous detail, see these closeups--
(Remember that Jim Burns offers signed prints of other works for sale, too! http://www.alisoneldred.com/thumbsJimBurns-Prints-0-1.html)
Of the “Terran Trade Authority” books by Stewart Cowley, Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD happens to be the first one that I got as a kid, and it ended up being my favorite as well. I literally cannot estimate how many hours I spent back then reading and rereading the piece, enjoying the illustrations, and sketching my own ship ideas...
Malcolm Edwards and Robert Holdstock’s Tour of the Universe is one of those books that wraps all the illustrations around a central plot. A couple wins a trip to the Magellanic Clouds, so we’ll see the news clippings of that, plus their quaint airline-style hard-copy tickets, colorful and crazy paintings of the places they go, and even receipts from the vacation. It’s a lovely ride, and now that I finally replaced my childhood softcover copy with a hardcover, I can post some decent interiors!