Friday, May 24, 2024

The New Visions

'The New Visions' 
Introduction by Frederik Pohl
Doubleday, 1982
'The New Visions' was published by Nelson Doubleday / Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) in 1982.

This rather obscure little book, of only 87 pages, provides 46 paintings made by various artists for SFBC titles in the 1970s and early 1980s. Accompanying each artist's contributions is a self-penned bio sketch and portrait. Each painting is labeled with the title of the book for which it was commissioned.
The Introduction, by Frederik Pohl, is readable (there is an amusing anecdote involving artist Boris Vallejo), and provides an author's perspective on the value of cover art as a component in publishing.

As science fiction art books of the New Wave era go, 'The New Visions' is quite forgettable. Its 10 1/2 x 7 1/2 dimensions make it too small to really display the artwork very effectively.
Some of the contributors represent 'big names' in field of sci-fi art as it was in the late 70s and early 80s, such as Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, and Michael Whelan. 

However, many other contributors are lesser known, and their pieces aren't particularly memorable. 
Quite a few of the outstanding artists who were active at this time, such as Tim White, Chris Foss, Chris Moore, Peter Jones, Darrell Sweet, Angus McKie, and David Schleinkofer , aren't profiled, for the simple reason that they weren't commissioned by the SFBC to provide art. That means that most of what's pictured in 'The New Visions' is rather perfunctory stuff. Lots of emphasis on figurative styles, which, as of 1982, were still dominant in sci-fi illustration (although tastes were changing).
Had it been more conscientious in its execution and design, there's a possibility that 'The New Visions' could have been a good representation of the sci-fi art of its times, but it instead comes across as something hastily churned out by the Doubleday staff.
Those with an interest in sci-fi and fantasy art from the New Wave era are directed away from 'The New Visions', and instead towards Ian Summers's 1978 title 'Tomorrow and Beyond', which is markedly superior (and has copies in good condition available for under $20). 

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