Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick Award-winning author – and friend of SF Gateway – the excellent Paul McAuley has just posted a collection of covers from 1970s British SF paperbacks depicting spaceships. And as anyone reading SF in the ’70s and early ’80s will tell you, that can mean only one name: Chris Foss.

We recommend you go have a look at Paul’s post – and also stop by Alastair Reynoldsblog for his take on the importance of Chris Foss to British SF in general and to Al’s induction into it, in particular. I’d agree with Al on both the allure of a Foss cover and the fact that knowing what was depicted on the cover was vanishingly unlikely to appear between the covers was so much less important than the sheer sense of wonder Foss evoked.

I’ve mentioned The Testament of Andros and its stunning cover before – classic Foss – but the cover that burns brightest in my mind is probably still Foundation. Do any of the scenes depicted on Foss’s wonderful triptych of covers for the Foundation trilogy actually happen in the books? No. No, they don’t. Does that matter? No, it doesn’t. Did those covers with their magnificent spaceships – all rivets and visible panels and patches of colour – hanging suspended in glorious disbelief in the aether make my pick up a book whether I’d heard of the author or not? Hell, yes!

Chris Foss will be one of the guests of honour at next year’s London Worldcon, and while I’m sad beyond words that Iain Banks won’t be there as he should, I’m more than a little excited at the prospect of encountering a living legend of SF art. Who knows, I might even make my first ever purchase from the art auction . . .


POST SCRIPT: It would be terribly remiss of me not to point out that Paul McAuley has a new book out in a few weeks – Evening’s Empires is the fourth in his superb Quiet War series and is available in hardback, trade paperback and as an eBook – and Alastair Reynolds also has a new book imminent: On the Steel Breeze, set in the same future as 2012’s Blue Remembered Earth, will be published later this year, also in hardback and as an eBook.