A Celebration of Foss
by, July 11th, 2011 at 07:15 PM (814 Views)
I have been reading SF for nearly 40 years now. It can be hard to realise in these days when SF is seemingly everywhere and even part of the mundane furniture of our daily lives, that in the 1970ís UK SF books were fairly uncommon and their covers were often a weirdly abstract thing.
However it is without a doubt that had it not been for Chris Fossís covers I might not have been the fan I am now.
I also blame my Dad. Though we could not afford many books to buy (I was a library-based bibliophile), he did have some tantalising books in the bookcase that I would occasionally get chance to look at.
Some of the covers there were Ė well, odd.
Blurry abstract colours and shapes that seemed to have escaped from a disco light box. To my ten-year-old self they were not of interest at all.
However also there was some Foss. I can still remember them now, and in particular the Panther edition of Second Foundation, with the blue and green fish-like spaceship on its cover. Now here was a spaceship!
Regardless of the bookís contents, I would spend ages looking at the detail, the vibrant colours. Here was a book that was proud to have a HUGE spaceship on its front. Loud, bold and stubbornly unlike those sleek streamlined US spaceships such as that of the Hugo Awards.
And then, one day, quite a long time afterwards, on reading the back cover I realised that this was the third in the series, not the first. Looking through the other books on the shelves I found a copy of the second book, Foundation and Empire. This cover was also equally impressive with its huge conning tower, impressively detailed and epically scaled. Most impressively of all, it was then that I realised that the tail of the spaceship on Second Foundation was here on the cover of Foundation and Empire. I put the two together and: voila! A bigger Foss picture!!
The addition of Foundation, made this grand vision complete. An epic picture for an epic series.
I then started to read the books. Naturally, I loved them. And at that point my love of things Foss began.
Having read and enjoyed the Foundation Trilogy, I started to hunt down books recognisable by their Foss covers. This was most of Asimovís books in print at the time: Currents in Space, Pebble in the Sky, The Gods Themselves. The Early Asimov was a clear favourite, especially as it had three covers for the three volumes, my favourite being the spaceship container carrier on the cover of Volume One. There was also the lovely green background of The Martian Way, the lurid orange of the detail of Buy Jupiter, the red background of The End of Eternity, the robot of The Bicentennial Man Ė the combination of Foss and Asimov were to me a sign of quality and entertainment, where the covers justified the novel. I saved and spent pocket money, rummaged through second-hand bookshops and market stalls, and religiously borrowed (and re-borrowed!) books from my local library.
This led to the Doc EE Smith Lensman series. I enjoyed these less but the covers were still undeniably Foss. But from there I was clearly hooked. Arthur C. Clarke, AE van Vogt, all were bought for the Foss covers.
I still own some of those books today. Though my tastes in SF have broadened, I still get a thrill from those covers. I will still buy a book with a Foss cover if it is one I havenít got. I still have my treasured copy of 21st Century Foss, which took me a while to save up for in the early 1980ís, which was, I think, my first Ďproperí art book.
So: thank you, Chris. You opened up a world of entertainment and excitement to me which has not become less exciting in all this time.
Though your covers are seen less these days (unless they are on my bookshelves) your vivid images still excite and create that sense of wonder in an otherwise more cynical adult.
Would it be an understatement to say how much Iím looking forward to the new book, Hardware? Probably. But my orderís in: I canít wait.