Sunday, April 08, 2007

Feast your eyes

If you dig fantasy and science fiction art, you can do a lot worse than to check out the CGSociety's CG Challenges. There have been twenty of these now, and for the seven most recent ones the winning image and a passel of runners-up are posted for your viewing enjoyment. Each challenge is built around a different theme. 'Grand Space Opera' is chock full of spaceships and floating cities and other coolness.

If you're more into biomechanical horror, check out 'MachineFlesh'. This is one of the runners-up, Francis Tsai's Reluctant God. I don't know why, but I love it. I can feel the cold and the wind; I wonder what these living signposts are pointing the way toward--or away from!

Incidentally, Ballistic Publishing put the Grand Space Opera and MachineFlesh entries into book form. Get the skinny here.

For something less scary and more whimsical, try 'Journey Begins'. This is also a runner-up, Clint Cearley's Children of Ten Twenty-Five. Probably the closest that anyone has come to putting my childhood into one two-dimensional image.

My favorite challenge is the latest one, 'Eon: Worlds Within Worlds', which features artwork inspired by Greg Bear's novel, Eon. Eon was one of the most important science fiction novels of the 1980s; it is possibly the most important hard science fiction novel of recent decades, and it may be Greg Bear's best book. An asteroid drifts into Earth's orbit. Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts explore the asteroid, which is hollow and contains a series of chambers that are many miles in diameter; the whole thing rotates to produce artifical gravity. Each of the first six chambers is dedicated to a different environment. The seventh chamber has no end; it is the terminus of an infinitely long tunnel of artifical spacetime called the Way. You'll have to read the book to get to the rest, and I highly recommend that you do, especially if you liked Rendezvous With Rama (the original, well-written book by Arthur C. Clarke, not the execrable Gentry Lee sequels).

The artwork in the Eon challenge lives up to epic visions of the novel. The image at the top of the post is yet another runner-up (for some reason the winners never appeal to me as much), Valery Plaksin's Flying Away. Better still, there are trailers. Yeah, you heard me. I wish I could see a set of cool trailers for all of my favorite books, but this is a great start.


As long as we're talking about cool art online, there is a ridiculous amount of anime art at the curiously-titled Point-Blank Gallery. I found it by Googling for Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's book Der Mond, which collects a ton of his art for Neon Genesis Evangelion and other anime series. The entire book is up at the Point-Blank Gallery, with every page available as a full screen or larger image. Dunno how long that will last, so get over there.

Get ready for some side-scrolling: all known bodies in the solar system larger than 200 miles in diameter are shown together here. You'll notice that Pluto is just one of a loooong series of rocky bodies floating around the outer solar system, and it is not the largest. Personally, I think that instead of bumping Pluto down from full planethood we should have bumped all the rest of them up. Bring 'em on! We're big kids, we can handle a solar system with 20 or 30 planets.

Finally, I gotta give some props to Bob The Angry Flower. Mike Taylor has been trying to turn me into a BATF fan since 2000. Mike, your seven lean years are over. And it all happened on the strength of this comic:

Oh no, I've just been hit by a Quit-Blogging-And-Get-Back-To-Your-Damned-Dissertation Ray!

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