Science Fiction/Fantasy Art Book Review


(2005) Jim Burns, Titan Books, 12.99, hrdbk, 80pp, ISBN 1-845-76133-2

This is more of a 'sketchbook' than an actual art book, though it does have reproductions of some 29 of Jim Burns' book covers. Like me you've probably got a load on your shelves, so popular has Jim's art been over the years. Among others this contains Jim's covers to Philip Jose Farmer's The Lovers, the six Venus Prime books of Clarke and Preuss, Richard Calder's Malignos, Colin Greenland's Seasons of Plenty, Moorcock's The Dreamthief's Daughter, and The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge and Great Balls of Fire by Harry Harrison (I think a version of this last was also used as the cover to one of three 'Steeleye' book). Burns has won the Hugo for art twice, and been nominated a further ten times, and there have been at least two previous books of his art, Transluminal and Lightship. He has worked extensively for publishers Sphere, Bantam and Ace, but Jim has also exhibited his work at conventions and the like, never forgetting his fannish roots. Jim cites Dan Dare as his earliest influence - he would have been the perfect age, having been born in 1948 - though the real life 'space race' of the late fifties and sixties comes a close second. Aside from his books covers Jim has also worked extensively on films, including ten weeks in Hollywood on Bladerunner. Most of the pictures in Imago are of Jim's favourite subject, sexy women in science fictional or fantastic universes, a lot of sketches plus sequences of digitally treated art. The book is a bit light on text, though there's a fairly detailed biography, but that's OK - who wants a load of text cluttering up the place when you're looking at the work of an artist? The printing is very good and, though this volume is a bit slim, it's very reasonably priced. Jim's art is photorealistic with very vivid colours. He has had many models, including his wife and a daughter, and it is fascinating to discover what props stood in for SF weaponry - an electric drill and a camera tripod, for instance. This book will appeal to many, but especially long-time British SF fans who will have come to know both the work and the man well from his several convention appearances.

Tony Chester

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