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Sentury II by Syd Mead

01/03/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Sentury II in the USA - or Buy Sentury II in the UK

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pub: Titan Books/Design Studio Press. 175 page horizontal square softcover. Price: GBP 39.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-85768-114-0.

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Designer Syd Mead is known to my generation for his work on the films ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, ‘Bladerunner’, ‘TRON’, ‘2010’, ‘Short Circuit’, ‘Aliens’, ‘Time Cop’, ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ and the more recent, ‘Mission Impossible-3’ – an example of his work being in this book. If you want a practical designer, then you go for Syd Mead. His work has been in demand across all the media since so inevitably a lot of you folk might have seen his work without realising who did it. Whether its buildings, cars, aircraft and spacecraft, there is a distinct clean style about his work combined with a lot of detail that you look at and think, that might actually work. Syd Mead at his best is a visionary with an eye to the future. It isn’t just in our genre that he is prized but also by major industries like Ford and Honda, who are featured in this book, often wanting to see what he will do to some of their more classic designs. Even Hot Wheels purloined his talents.

Summing up Mead’s work is very difficult. It’s obvious that he like spacious buildings and his cars enjoy large wheels and just when you think you’ve caught his essence then Mead turns out Japanese Gundam giant robots, taking into account what they want plus enough variants so they can be distinguished from each other.

This doesn’t mean all of his work gets used. Mead shows the design work for a computer game based off the new ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series which was never finished to games that were like ‘Bounty Hounds’ and ‘Tron 2.0’ which are. The same applies to early work for films like ‘The Core’, ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘A Sound Of Thunder’. If there’s a design, then Syd Mead is doing it either for paying clients or just for himself. I liked the end section where he shows him cartooning, a side to Mead I wasn’t aware of until now.

I’ve been hoping for an age for the first ‘Sentury’ book to have a re-issue, mostly cos of its high price in the secondary market putting it outside of my pocket. However, a second ‘Sentury’ is better than no ‘Sentury’ in my collection and I suspect this book will be grabbed as soon as people see its name, so don’t get caught missing a first edition if you want one of Syd Mead’s books in your collection.

GF Willmetts

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