Friday, July 19

Andrew Kay it will come as no surprise, is living in a parallel universe

- November 24, 2011

In a previous existence many years ago part of my job was to art direct book covers for science fiction. I made the immediate mistake of referring to them as sci-fi but the chief editor of the genre Malcolm soon put me right. “Sci-fi is film,” he announced ,“we call it SF, pronounced ess eff.” I resisted the urge to tell him to ess eff off.

“These guys could create alien landscapes, space-craft and monsters with thrilling realism”

After I while I got the knack of it and rather enjoyed working with the specialist illustrators who dominated the market. These guys, and they were mostly male, could create alien landscapes, space-craft and monsters with thrilling realism and I admired their artistry. They were also brilliant at drawing cities of the future.

One day I had taken delivery of a particularly good city of the future and sat at my desk admiring the artwork. After a few moments I started to notice some familiar things in the landscape. There was a tower that was quite clearly modeled on a technical drawing pen, a smaller building that was a bottle of Tipp-ex and a complex of buildings that was the cluster of cylinders that formed the desk tidy that I used.

Quite clearly the inspiration for the city had been the artist’s desk and the clutter assembled there. Not that it mattered, it was still a great illustration but it did clear up a few questions that I had often pondered.

From that point on I would studiously look at ess eff artwork to spot the sources and I will say that it was a common thing; many of the artists took household items and used them to draw from.

So why remember this now? Well Mr R talks in his sleep, often waking me to ask a question. He is a science fiction game player and loves the art so it clearly is often in his mind. Last week at three in the morning he woke me and with total clarity asked me this: “So what universe are we in now?” Unsure of how to respond, for fear of distressing my sleeping partner, I responded gently, “The same one as when we came to bed.” He smiled and went back to sleep.

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