Posts Categorized: Art

Art by Simon StålenhagArt by Simon Stålenhagvarselklotet_verge_super_wideArt by Simon Stålenhag

Welcome to rural Sweden, sometime in the late ’80s. Citizens go about their mundane lives and children explore the countryside. But something isn’t quite right. Robots and hovercrafts are commonplace, and decaying science facilities sprout from the harsh Scandinavian landscape. There’s even a rumor circulating that dinosaurs have returned from the dead after some failed experiment.

As a huge fan of Valve’s Half-Life series, and particularly Viktor Antonov’s relentlessly haunting, but startlingly believable, visual direction and world building for a dystopian future, I was immediately drawn to Stålenhag’s art. Where Antonov’s vision was used to flesh out a videogame that, for the most part, requires the lead character to shoot his way to safety, Stålenhag explores a similar world, Sweden, post-disaster, and takes a snapshot of what civilian life might be like under those conditions.

In a profile of his work by Dante D’Orazio, Stålenhag explained that “the only difference in the world of my art and our world is that … ever since the early 20th century, attitudes and budgets were much more in favor of science and technology. D’Orazio described Stålenhag’s world and a future that looks, in many ways, like our present. “Despite developments in robotics and ‘anti-grav’ technology, the difficulties of the modern human experience haven’t changed,” D’Orazio said.

Stålenhag juxtaposes the looming threat of the decaying glory of a dystopian far future with the mundanity of everyday life, that effectively illustrates the idea that life happens no matter what else is going on around it. Children are featured in many of Stålenhag’s paintings and its through their eyes that we are shown the grandeur and lost history of a world that crumbled under its own weight.

More of Stålenhag’s artwork can be found at his profile on The Verge, or by visiting his portfolio.

Breach Zone by Myke ColeBreach Zone by Myke ColeBreach Zone by Myke ColeBreach Zone by Myke Cole

When Fantasy Faction debuted the cover for Myke Cole’s Breach Zone last week, I was struck by the impact of the cover. Not just by the impactful art from Larry Rostant, or the aggressive pose of the woman, but, that, well.. there was a woman. Cole writes military fantasy (science fiction?) and the covers of his past books have featured male-heavy casts aimed to appeal at a particular crowd of reader. I’m still not terribly sure what I think about the cover, so I reached out to Cole and asked him for his thoughts on the new cover and, specifically, the inclusion of a woman. Read More »

The Broken Eye by Brent WeeksThe Broken Eye by Brent WeeksThe Broken Eye by Brent WeeksThe Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

Some part of Weeks’ original (and screamingly fast) success is the result of the bold and unique (at the time, one must remember) covers for his original trilogy. Generally, a publisher is able to bring this sort of branding along with an author, but the hooded man (and the minimalist cover style) became so popular that Weeks brand was essentially stolen by the genre at large. Seriously, blame him for the hooded man, for he unleashed that demon on the world. Orbit has done a great job of evolving the look of the series to feel unique and impactfully branded, despite incorporating one of the most (nay, the most) overused tropes in Fantasy covers. The hooded man is prevalent, but the bold (and series-appropriate) splashes of colour, contrasted sharply against the black background, is striking and immediately recognizable as a Weeks book. Read More »

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

So, let’s talk about the recently revealed cover for The Way of Kin— err… wait, I mean Words of Radiance, the second volume in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. I won’t ever blame you for mistaking the two books, so, please, afford me the same luxury.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about one of publishing’s biggest catch-22 arguments. Fans have cried ‘foul’ time-and-again when publishers step in and change the style of a series’ covers midway through. It’s great when a completed series gets a re-issue, but, I think I can speak for most fans when I say that it’s nice to have a matching set of books on your bookshelf. On the flip side, though, there are a lot of cases of lazy design work, with the publisher, or at least the art department, jumping on board with what worked in the past and riding it until it keels over from exhaustion. A good example of this is the early cover for Brent Weeks’ The Black Prism. Orbit found huge success with Weeks’ first trilogy, in large part because of the striking covers. Back then, the hooded dude was still waiting tables, just trying to catch a break. Now, he’s everywhere, we’re sick of him, but he established a strong brand for Weeks and his Night Angel Trilogy. The first cover leaked to the public looked like a sequel to Weeks’ first trilogy even though it was an entirely new series. The cover was changed before publication. And then a new cover was issued for the recent trade paperback edition of the novel. It’s gorgeous. Orbit has done a great job of recognizing the need to create a strong brand for Weeks, but not at the expense of driving the concept into the ground. Read More »