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Jun 14, 2014

Other Futures

see the image credits for the elements of these photomanipulated composites
In my previous blog post six covers for the imaginary pulp science fiction magazine Future Science were unveiled. Here, I describe the remaining six covers for the year 2014.

I'm making modified versions of cover illustrations for some Astounding magazine issues that have passed into the public domain. In order to explore the idea that Grean the Kac'hin visited Earth in the 1930s, I'm inserting images of models who are playing the role of Grean. These models were photographed by Cathleen Tarawhiti and made available at deviantART under a Creative Commons license.

image source
For the February 2014 cover of Future Science, I started with the May 1931 issue of Astounding Stories.

In order to insert Grean into the scene, I used a photograph of model Tori Calderwood. As usual, I modified Tori's appearance slightly to create a hint of the alien.

see the original cover art
The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "Dark Moon". Part of the description of the alien "spider" from the story: "It stood upright on great hairy legs. The eyes shot forward on protruding antennae....Those jaws could crush a man to pulp."

The imaginary story title "Trapped in Preland" is a pulpish twisting of a concept from the Exode Trilogy. In my story Exode, the Prelands are a variation on the human form, crafted and designed by the pek. There is no place called "Preland". However, with poor Grean trapped in the web of this alien "spider", we can imagine her in some alien territory of prehistoric nightmares...a Preland.

image source
For the December 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the November 1931 cover from "Astounding Stories" and an image of model Emma McDonald (see this collection of Emma deviations). The original cover art by Wessolowski was apparently inspired by the story "Hawk Carse", "he of the spitting ray-gun and the phenomenal draw".

In the 1930s, every plot twist involved the appropriate type of "ray", including "a gravital ray, with strong magnetic properties". In the Exode Trilogy, my favorite plot device is the ultra-small zeptite.

see the original cover art
Grean has a swarm of endosymbiotic zeptites in her body that, among other things, allows her to change her facial features and the colors of her skin and hair. I modified the "skeleton" of the original cover to make a pixilated version. Grean's right hand was altered to make it look like she might be in the process of disintegrating into zeptite components.

Of course, if Grean can be reduced to her zeptite components, then the purple skeletal zeptite collection can surely be in the process of assembling into human form. The forming humanoid face on the skeleton is rather freaky...already giving poor Grean the evil eye.

The bearded guy in the lower right seems to be using radio telegraphy equipment from 1910 to force the zeptite transition upon Grean.

image source
For the October 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the October 1931 Astounding Stories cover art and another image of Emma McDonald.

The original Astounding Stories cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a story called "The Red Hell of Jupiter".

see the original cover art
In "The Red Hell of Jupiter", the Planetary Exploration Forces (PEF) confront the "pipe-like men" who reside in a fabulous city located in Jupiter's red spot. These alien beings are 12 feet tall and have large heads: "Set directly on the pipe-like body, as a pumpkin might be balanced on a pole, was a perfectly round cranium in which were glassy, staring eyes..."

In "The Red Hell of Jupiter", the PEF hero meets a humanoid slave girl from a moon of Jupiter.  In my modified cover, Grean is inserted into the scene in place of the slave girl; she hangs there behind the pipes that snake from the Red Sedron storage tank. The PEF hero, who looks like he is shining a flashlight on one of the "pipe-like men", is actually wielding a disintegrator ray in "The Red Hell of Jupiter". Since the imaginary pulp magazine Future Science is designed for family-friendly entertainment, I actually rebuilt a disintegated arm for the poor "pipe-like man" at the back of the scene.

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For the July 2014 cover of Future Science, I made use of the July 1931 issue of Astounding Stories. I again used model Tori Calderwood to represent my Exode Trilogy character, Grean the Kac'hin. The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "The Doom from Planet 4" by Jack Williamson.

see the original cover art
"Planet 4" is Mars and the naked character in the cover art is a shipwrecked sailor who swims to an island where a scientist has been developing advanced technology like the robot in the lower right corner of the illustration.

Grean, resting on a glass platform, gazes down upon the confrontation between the man and the machine. In the Exode Trilogy, a major plot device and example of "future science" are the submicroscopic femtobots made from hierions. Since Grean is a Kac'hin from the distant planet Luk'ru, I can imagine her as being significantly larger than the Earthling.

image source
For the March 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the cover art from the March 1930 issue of "Astounding Stories". To depict Grean in the scene, I used a photograph of Tori Calderwood.

see the original cover art
The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "Brigands of the Moon". In that story from 1930, the spaceship Planetara goes to the Moon in search of radium.

image source
The high observation
deck of the Planetara
For my alteration of the scene, I completely changed the scale of the spaceship, making it just large enough to hold Grean. In the original story by Ray Cummings, the spaceship is much larger. When Grean comes to Earth she is trying to make use of time travel technology to alter the course of events on Earth. Here, Grean is in a state of suspended animation, as good as dead, and being sent to Observer Base on the Moon. Can Grean use time travel to save her own life?

image  source
For the April 2014 cover of Future Science, I started with the July 1930 Astounding Stories issue. To represent Grean, I used another Tori Calderwood image.

The original cover art for the July 1930 Astounding issue was inspired by "Earth, the Marauder". On the cover is a globe, showing Earth of the future, with no oceans....the water having been "disintegrated".

see the original cover art
In that future Earth, as imagined by Arthur J. Burks, the people lived long lives lasting many centuries. Earth was covered by a single city, eight miles deep.

In the Exode Trilogy, Earth faces a different problem: global warming and rising sea levels. The globe depicted on the cover is an interesting element in "Earth, the Marauder". Burks imagined that it functioned as a sophisticated communications device. When focused upon with a magnifier, each of the billions of inhabitants of Earth could be individually seen and heard.

In the Exode Trilogy, Grean must engage in time travel, using technology made possible by sedrons, to save Earth from catastrophic sea level rise.

Future Science
Trysta and Ekcolir
I'm in the process of sketching out the structure of Trysta and Ekcolir, the first book in the Exode Trilogy. The events of Trysta and Ekcolir are largely confined to the Reality that preceded the world as we know it. Understanding how information from that Reality reaches us has been a major challenge for me.

I've been having fun with the idea that some science fiction stories that were written in the Ekcolir Reality found their way into our Reality. I first imagined that Thomas would be the vector for transporting science fiction from the Ekcolir Reality to the Buld Reality. I originally imagined that he would simply carry his memories over into our Reality, but what if there were actual physical artifacts such as books or magazines that Thomas was able to bring into our Reality?

And why stop there? Before the Ekcolir Reality was the Foundation Reality. In the Foundation Reality Grean was engaged in a struggle against the positronic robots of Earth and she was not able to indulge in the luxury of acting delicately so as to not allow herself to be noticed by Earthlings. But how might Earthlings explain to themselves the appearance of Grean the Kac'hin among them?

alien beings, tentacles
and giant bugs
With that question was born the whimsical pulp science fiction magazine Future Science. It is tricky to illustrate Grean's struggle against positronic robots since both Grean and the robots have no difficulty taking on human form and passing themselves of as Earthlings. However, for the pulpish covers of Future Science we can imagine Grean in dramatic confrontations with visually distinctive alien creatures and strange monsters.

The three Future Science covers to the right include classic pulp science fiction monsters that are tormenting poor Grean, the damsel in distress. I suppose someone has done a statistical analysis to determine if more Sci Fi damsels in distress from the 1930s were tormented by tentacles or by insect-like aliens.

green slime
In the Exode Trilogy, Grean is well equipped to deal with the dangers that she must confront. She has at her disposal the mighty technology of the Huaoshy, so it is hard for me to imagine her getting into the dire situations depicted here. However, with Grean in these pulpish positions of weakness, I did contemplate making these covers even worse!

For the cover, I did not want Grean actually getting slimed.

Grean in the tank
For the scene with the "Red Sedrons", I did not want to put Grean into the Houdini pose inside the tank.

But here it is (image to the left) with a more horror-tinged approach to the scene. This version of the scene also removes a tentacle-like arm from the alien, the arm having been blasted off by the disintegrator ray gun, leaving the alien's appendage draped over the rim of the tank.

Worse still, the alien on the far right in the scene is really getting his face disintegrated by our hero's disintegrator beam.

This version is more pulpish, but the editor for Future Science rejected the gore.

spidy claw
Similarly, to heighten the sense of horror for the February cover I could have had the giant spider-like creature in physical contact with poor Grean.

Size Matters
One of the major Sci Fi "tricks" used in the Exode Trilogy is to imagine that ancient aliens like the Huaoshy have advanced technology that goes far beyond the possibilities of miniaturization that are to be expected for nanotechnology. 

Grean the giant
There were three of the Future Science covers for which Grean got to live large. If the pek are artificial life forms composed of zeptite components, we can ask: just how small of a bodily form might the pek be able to adopt? None of these three scenes (in the image to the left) would be impossible to account for by saying that Grean has a normal human body size and the depicted "little people" are artificial life forms that might be confronted by Grean during her adventures in the Hierion Domain.

Giant artificial life forms
Of course, if the pek can adopt small bodily forms, then they should have no problem going the other way. For the two Future Science covers shown to the right, we can imagine that Grean is visiting Archive Worlds in the Hierion Domain where she will feel small because of the grand scale of the artificial life forms that reside there.

The Final Four
The top 4 covers
There are the four Future Science covers that I like the best. One of the strategies that I used in constructing these covers was to give Grean a slightly non-human appearance. Grean is Kac'hin, and imagine that the facial features of unmodified Kac'hin are outside of the bounds of the normal appearance of Earthlings.

The easiest modification for me to make to a model is to enlarge the eyes. Sometimes I can play with the color of the eyes and give a pulp Sci Fi eye glow to Grean. I did not want to make the appearance of Grean in these Future Science covers too freaky.

Next cover image: first draft of a retro Future Science cover that depicts Grean's confrontation with R. Fengtol.

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