I’ve always liked artist John Harris’s work on John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series of books. Exploring the gorgeous new Titan Books collection The Art of John Harris — Beyond the Horizon not only made me an even bigger fan, it revealed that it turns out I’ve been enjoying his work for years without even knowing it.
If you’ve read any science fiction over the past four decades or so, odds are pretty good you’re familiar with Harris’s work, too. Since the mid-1970s, when he began taking on science fiction themes in his work — which he describes as “imaginative realism” — Harris has created art for books by a stunning list of writers, including Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Frederik Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, and Joe Haldeman.
(UPDATE: Oh, hey: Look who did the cover for the newest member of the Nebula Award-winning novels club, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.)
He’s done several Ben Bova covers — including the Jupiter art that I’ve always loved —
Harris’s work has also been commissioned by NASA, and appeared on Sinclair computer manuals in the early 1980s:
I’m not an art student or critic, but Harris’s art is a style that I find particularly inspiring and worth revisiting; It’s the kind of work that sets my brain off and fuels the imagination, and the sort of vision I’ve loved since I was a kid. Even with their kind of impressionistic feel, there’s the sense of a concrete reality to Harris’s spaceships, landscapes, and constructs. At the same time, they also often exist in wide, unexplained spaces that invite questioning and wonderment.
I could easily imagine myself looking through this book as a kid and losing myself for hours. (Heck, I could do that now — although one side effect of flipping through Beyond the Horizon is that I’ve remembered there are a ton of science fiction books I still want to read.)
Harris’s personal commentary throughout the sections offers some interesting insight into his own creative process and thoughts, and much of the book’s second half is dedicated to works inspired by a fictional history and culture of Harris’s own creation.
The 160-page book presents dozens of pieces, and the 9-by-12-inch format is great for taking in all their detail and wonder. If you’re looking for something to set your mind wandering and spark some inspiration, I highly recommend a trip Beyond the Horizon — and take the kids, too.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this book for review.