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Hardware: The Definitive SF Works Of Chris Foss

01/08/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Hardware: The Definitive SF Works Of Chris Foss in the USA - or Buy Hardware: The Definitive SF Works Of Chris Foss in the UK

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pub: Titan Books. 240 page illustrated hardback. Price: GBP24.99 (UK), $34.95 (US), $40.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-698-9.

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My first reaction that there was a new Chris Foss artbook coming out was, ‘About time.’

If you own British Science Fiction paperbacks from the late 60s-70s, then you will have a decent representation of Chris Foss’ book covers in your collection as he did the art on the books by Isaac Asimov, E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith and A.E. van Vogt, James Blish, Edmund Cooper, Harry Harrison and numerous anthologies. Much to my surprise from looking at the paintings here was how many ‘Perry Rhodan’ book covers he also painted. As the three introductions and interview in the book point out, he didn’t read the books but just painted an exotic spacecraft, robot or occasionally a building, often into modern day scenic background, either in flight or in collision. Any significant changes was in background colour so each book in a series could be told apart from the next one. What you couldn’t mistake was that it was a Chris Foss book cover that attracted the eye and the author’s name that ensured you bought the book which probably explains why I missed so many of the ‘Perry Rhodan’ books.

Calling this book ‘Hardware’ puts the material in context as to how little other work is included here. Saying that, the few pictures showing his World War II Spitfires and trains shows how much more could be shown. Imogene Foss’ interview with her father clearly points out that he has done a lot of other work, especially in the pre-production of an aborted ‘Dune’ film project and Ridley Scott’s film, ‘Alien’. You only have to look at the Nostromo and see it reeks of Foss’ design. In fact, if I have to be critical at all of this book, then I wish we had seen more although I’m sure as this book quickly sells out that like-minded people at a certain publisher might decide to follow this book up taking in picture so to speak as well as see what he did in sculpture.

One of the great joys of this book for me was picking out the covers of books, sans blurb, that I have in my collection. A minor niggle was having to read the titles sideways but this never deters from the art. Indeed, it you missed out on his earlier ‘21th Century Foss’, then this book will clearly make up for it.

Like all of Chris Foss’ work, this book reeks of ‘Buy Me!’ as I want to see the worlds he creates with his art. Now is your opportunity, so grab before you end up with a second edition.

GF Willmetts

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