Here’s a recent favorite of mine, S. M. Stirling’s The Sky People, due out in November. This is a book that benefitted from me being able to read, and pass on, a nicely detailed explanation of the world in which it and it’s sequel take place in. The story posits a serious scientific reason (within the confines of an SF story, of course) that Venus and Mars has evolved to be the Venus and Mars of the pulps - one a teaming jungle with primitive humans, dinos, and prehistoric mammals walking about, the other as a dusty dying planet with ancient dying civilizations.
I think Greg Manchess’ painting goes a long way to be pulpy-and-not, which is just the right tone. (But, boy, was it tempting to go over the top with this.) For the design, I just wanted to stay out of the way of the art. We kept the art in a panel since it helped to tone down the pulp aspect a bit further without hiding what a fun world the book would take place in. I am very excited to see what Greg will do with the sequel set on Mars.
I asked Greg to say a word or two on this project:
When I was a kid I spent countless hours staring at the art on science fiction book covers. I couldn't wait for the “space race” to get beyond the moon so we could do some real traveling to the outer limits. The Sky People gave me the chance to capture one of those far-flung frontiers I used to daydream about.
To get a better feel for the cover painting I was inspired by Vincent DiFate's book, Infinite Worlds, and went immediately to studying shots of steamy jungles. It was fun making up bizarre flora and placing a crippled spaceship amongst it. I have this thing for seeing stranded astronauts in unending landscapes and getting that feeling of dread that comes with the struggle to survive. I've painted spaceships that are crashed on the horizon while we see the hapless spaceman living in a camp of broken ship parts. Much like the stranded seafaring travelers of long past.
The movie, “Robinson Crusoe On Mars” fascinated me as a kid. All alone in a barren landscape. And now the second book in this series is coming up and it's about Mars! My inner child is about to eat dessert.