Feb 02

You're not allowed to see our diagram! Go sit on the naughty box!Click for full image

Phil A’s Art Direction: We’d like a bunch of mismatched photo-referenced people all standing around looking bored on some kind of…planet, or something. And one of them has to be the lead singer from Mott The Hoople.
Published 1994

Many thanks to Phil A!

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 5.89 out of 10)

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41 Responses to “The Giant Book of Science Fiction Stories”

  1. Ian Sales Says:

    That’s a Jim Burns piece, originally from the book Planet Story: art by Burns, text by Harry Harrison – who reportedly refuses to admit he wrote it. Given that the heroine is called Styreen Fome, I’m not surprised…

  2. admin Says:

    Good spot Ian!

    Here’s the original art work:

    Apparently it’s done the rounds too! According to a facebook follower, “It was used for Game Workshop’s “Traveler” range of figures back in the late 70’s – early 80’s. I thought it evoked a future ambiance rather well.”

  3. Ian Sales Says:

    I remember it on that Citadel Miniatures 15mm Traveller set. I think I even owned it – but then I lent it to someone to paint the miniatures for me and never got it back.

  4. Seamyst Says:

    Is it just me, or does the perspective seem way off?

  5. THX 1138 Says:

    Yeah, and the image is so busy that it’s hard to concentrate on what it’s supposed to be showing. It’s a headache-inducing cover if you stare at it too long. Or maybe it’s the sci-fi equivalent of a magic eye picture?

  6. Kathleen Says:

    most of the cover is just your average “worst” – 3 different fonts for no reason, mismatched randomness – but those boobs really turn it up to 11. no way I would take read it on the train. good god.

  7. CarrerCrytharis Says:

    Good Lord, we own this. My dad bought it back in the early 90s.

    I didn’t read much of it — one of the stories was about a mutant who used the power of cancer to turn into a bomb? Or something. It was weird.

  8. A.R.Yngve Says:

    The Giant Book of

  9. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @admin – All right, on the back cover, centre, back and just right of the bird in green. I think that’s the only lady wearing something not terrible.

    It looks as if she’s on the bomb disposal squad, doesn’t it? And her partner’s a bit new on the job.

  10. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    I do like how the 1st Pilot’s helmet reads, “1st Pilot.” You know how important it is to clear up any ambiguity.

  11. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “All right, everybody… just one more step, and we’ll get connected to our new broadband service… dammit! Let’s start over…”

  12. Arghstick Says:

    I’ve got a book in my collection with that same image used on the cover:

  13. NGpm Says:

    I love the font for the “1st Pilot.” It’s just so “newspapery.”

    Also, I wonder what kind of quality pilot she is considering that’s her combat jet thingy blasting by the window. Maybe that’s why they did the crop job for this cover. Maybe crop isn’t the right word.

  14. Phil Says:

    Arghstick, I note your book has a “special introduction by Isaac Asimov”. In which, no doubt, he explains why he’s inside the same cover art for a second time.

  15. Dalton H. Says:

    And now for something completely different!

  16. Mister Skiff Says:

    OK, some erroneous info here, this image wasn’t in Planet Story at all, it was originally from Harry Harrison’s Mechanismo.

  17. Archadvocate Says:

    Heh. I’ve got this book. Because of the way its been cropped I always assumed these guys were trying to repair a crashed spaceship. When you see the whole art it looks more like the sort of half deserted nightclub which appears in soap operas, with the handyman trying to fix the PA. 1st pilot’s holding a sci-fi version of one of those lights in cages used in garages.

  18. Wayne Says:

    Burns at his best! Knock it all you like it.. it’s a masterpiece of sf art. I found the character descriptions a real hoot in the book Mechanismo.

    And the perspective is correct..

  19. Bert Says:

    Is she checking out an iPad?

  20. Simon Says:

    I *think* it was also used in Tour of the Universe by the late and very great Rob Holdstock and Malcolm Edwards, now publisher of the Orion Publishing Group (and my boss). This is based only on recognising the picture and a 30 year old memory so I may be wrong. #Pointless trivia

  21. Simon Says:

    Have just read end of thread. Damn! Mechanismo! That was the one. Had a cool (well I thought so then) pic on the cover of a female robot protecting a huge starship that had clearly been modelled on a F4 Phantom. #Evenmorepointlesstrivia

  22. Lindarama Says:

    I remember this book cover, principally because of 1st Pilot’s giant norks! Now to find the book on my shelves…

  23. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Note the sulking, resentful expression on the male astronaut in the foreground.
    He’s thinking: “Why is everyone ogling HER tight-fitting sexy space-suit… it shoulda been ME in a tight-fitting sexy outfit, then they’d notice me…”

  24. Ian Sales Says:

    Damn. I just checked my copies of Planet Story and Mechanismo, and yes, it’s from the latter. My mistake.

    Simon, I looked in Tour of the Universe, but I couldn’t find it. There are several by Burns in the books, but not this one. Although one is similar – but has much more people in it, and is by a different artist.

  25. JESI Says:

    i cant stop looking at that boob. just the one. the glowing one.

  26. JohnBobMead Says:

    Sounds like the artist made out like a bandit, what, three/four books using the same picture? Can’t beat that for return on investment!

  27. andyl Says:

    Would it be wrong to admit that I actually have a print (only a small one though) of this hanging on my wall (the full painting – not the cropped section used for the book cover)?

  28. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    I bought a bigger monitor about three months ago, and, I must say, this cover looks much gianter on it. I’m so happy I’ve upgraded. 🙂

  29. Tat Wood Says:

    I often wondered what Gerald Harper did after ‘Hadleigh’. There he is, lurking at the back hoping not to be recognised.

  30. Tat Wood Says:

    @Simon & Mr Skiff: weren’t ‘Mechanismo’ and ‘Tour of the Universe’ among the many compilations of cover-art, unused artwork and sketches with a narrative that they put out in the early 80s? I recall one of Chris Foss emptying his bottom draw to make ‘Diary of a Spaceperson’.

  31. Perry Armstrong Says:

    It looks like they’re having a rummage sale!

  32. anon Says:

    @Ian: It could be worse: The first name could have been “Styra”.

  33. B. Chiclitz Says:

    I guess, since it’s a book for giants, the original must be, what, 4′ X 6′ or something? Just imagine that glowing boob on such a scale . . . .

  34. anon Says:

    Is that what first pilots do? And I thought TSA was bad!
    I’m now glad the pilots get locked behind a bullet-proof door and that they don’t allow kids in the cockpit any more.
    And is that why they call it that?! Ewww!

    @B. Chiclitz: I wonder if there is some private collector with walls filled with these book covers as fullsize paintings. I wouldn’t necessarily want to meet the person, though.

  35. Jim Burns Says:

    An artist speaks! You know….I reckon you haven’t really made it as an Art God unless you get something posted on this rather delightful, keeps-my-feet-on-the-ground site! It’s almost 40 years ago I painted (assembled?) this piece ….and yes, those were the days of randomly sourced, occasionally photographed by myself models. I hope I’ve moved on since! The publisher Pierrot…well I owe a lot to them really…principally because of Planet Story and a two year ‘monthly salary’…a gift to an impoverished artist still on the lower rungs of a very stop-go career and a young family to feed. But there were other Pierrot commissions …and Mechanismo was one.
    Yes…the painting was subsequently used again a few times…which I should add earns the artist EXTREMELY modest second rights fees! Funnily enough…and by popular demand…I’ve recently been selling big giclée prints of this one. Indeed today I am putting one in a big tube and sending it off to a collector of such things! It makes me wonder if I’ve moved on at all really…given that my most popular prints are these old efforts from the late 1970s. This one and the ‘Gaussian Fighter’ cover art for the book (no Simon’, the floating sentry it isn’t female!….but full marks for picking up on the F4 Phantom influence…although there’s as much F105 Thunderchief as Phantom)
    So…cheers everyone…it’s a privilege! Believe me…I know one or two artists who haven’t made it to this site…and they seriously feel very left out!

  36. Tag Wizard Says:

    Welcome to the site, Jim Burns. We bestow on you the “artist in the comments” tag.

    Those who understand this place know that we only laugh at the covers we truly love.

  37. Bibliomancer Says:

    @Jim Burns – Welcome to the site. And thank you giving us some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of the cover art business.

    Tell you artist friends who haven’t yet appeared to paint something for Baen Books. We will get to all of them eventually.

  38. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Jim Burns—add another voice of welcome. One of the things I think we get is that the artist is often enough as much of a victim of the system as the reader.

  39. Jon Says:

    @Jim Burns – and yet another voice of welcome! I remember some of your “Stainless Steel Rat” covers; I thought them very evocative of the hijinks of the series.

  40. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Thanks for thinking of us, Burns! 🙂

  41. Tom Noir Says:

    Honestly the art is fine (hoping that doesn’t disappoint Mr. Burns too much) and it’s mostly the victim of a bad crop job. Some clever designer decided they could cram a small rectangle of the piece onto a cover, festoon it with fonts, and people would still be able to visually parse it. Sorry, doesn’t work like that.

    Once you see the original in all its glory, with room to breath and everything, it totally works. Well – maybe except for those 70’s sideburns! heh

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