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Spectrum 16: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner

01/12/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Spectrum 16: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art edited in the USA - or Buy Spectrum 16: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art edited in the UK

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pub: Underwood Books. 264 page illustrated indexed softcover. Price: $29.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59929-034-8)

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If you're looking for an examination of Science Fiction, fantasy and horror art equivalent to the Best SF annual anthology then this book has to be in your must buy category. The Fenners give an examination of the state of play for genre art across all the mediums for the past year. This year is especially poignant as the industry has been hit especially by the recession. Then again, the arts tend to be the worst hit when money is tight.

Saying that, if you want to cheer yourself up and raise your spirits then get 'Spectrum 16' because not only do you get art from across the various fields but also a lot of it will give you if not a wry smile then definitely a chuckle from the humorous elements portrayed.

The 'Spectrum' books are the results of an annual competition, details on the website above, that picks the best of the submitted selected items of art in the fields of advertising, books, comics, concept art, dimensional (sculpture and three-dimensional in other words), editorial, institutional and unpublished. You don't only see the actual winners and runners-up but also a selection of the best of the rest. So even if you disagree with the judges, you can appreciate the difficulty they had choosing and that there is something here for everyone's taste.

Even displaying a small selection here by permission of the nice publishers had me stuck for choice. With the small size we use, I went for the more colourful choices that could be made out well more than a fair representation. I have to say that there is a lot more humorous pictures this time and I defy anyone to look in these pages and not find something to chuckle at, be it Alice playing croquet to the lobsters escaping from the house before dinner to an owl's council. The pictures are here to be studied and enjoyed with plenty for everyone's choice. The book also comes with a list of all the artists concerned and their websites if you want to pursue more of their work making this book a great showcase.

I really do hate picking favourites but if I had to pick then it has to be the sculpture that won the dimensional gold award of 'Elegant Medusa' by Akihito Ikeda which is absolutely stunning. I had a look at his website and its available in a variety of colours albeit a little expensive for my pocket but I can see it appearing on many a collector's bookcases, assuming you don't get jumpy with snake-women.

If you love artbooks then you can't afford to miss this book. It shows you what is out there from a variety of talent. It's the kind of book you expect to see publishers keep on their shelves when they are looking for artists to grace their publications. So delight in this book and praise that we have such a varied and interesting selection of remarkable artists out there.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 28 votes in the sci-fi charts

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