Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review: 'Tomorrow and Beyond' edited by Ian Summers

4/5 Stars

“Tomorrow and Beyond: Masterpieces of Science Fiction Art”, edited by Ian Summers, is a large-format paperback published in 1978 by Workman Publishing. At the time, it was one of the few books about SF art available in the stores. Its 158 pages, some of which I’ve excerpted here, provide a good overview of art styles prevailing in the 70s for SF, fantasy, and horror paperbacks.

The images are reproduced with pleasing clarity in full color, and images are presented in a format in which many are given a full-page treatment, while others appear as blocks of two to four images on a page. The images are categorized by topic: astronauts, aliens, spaceships, symbolism, supernatural, etc., so there is a varied selection of genres. Many of the artists represented in ‘Tomorrow and Beyond’ will be very familiar to readers of SF during that era: Carl Lundgren, Brad Holland, Paul Lehr, Richard Powers, Boris, and Michael Whelan. There are examples of both realistic and abstract approaches to SF art, and even some sculpture and mixed-media pieces.

PC-based art creation and design software was still another 15 years away when the book was released, so the use of the airbrush was about as high-tech as one could get in the 70s. But there are some well-composed illustrations, rendered with skill and craftsmanship, in these pages.

The book’s main weakness is that the titles and publishing histories of the images are relegated to an Appendix at the back of the book, requiring the reader to do some back-and-forth page-flipping in order to see what book a particular illustration is associated with.

For readers of SF in the 70s, ‘Tomorrow and Beyond’ will be a pleasantly nostalgic trip back to an era when SF was still something of an oddball genre in the publishing industry, and art directors at the publishing houses had greater creative freedom than they perhaps have nowadays. You’re sure to see some illustrations that may have caught your eye on the store shelves way back in ’74 or ’77, and send you to or eBay to look up that forgotten paperback.

1 comment:

Dawid Michalczyk said...

I found this book on amazon and was wondering about the actual content of the book and found your review. Thank you for writing the review and posting a few page scans.