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Science Fiction and Fantasy


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Stephen Hickman, Illustrator of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Stephen Hickman has been illustrating science fiction and fantasy for over two decades. His work has been inspired by the masters of fantasy and science fiction writing — J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Clark Ashton Smith. His illustrations have been used as cover work for many contemporary writers, such as Stephen Brust, Tom Cool, Gordon Dickson, David Drake, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, and Steve Stirling. Hickman’s work has earned him critical acclaim.
Since 1976 Hickman has illustrated approximately 450 covers for Ace, Baen, Ballantine, Bantam, Berkeley, Dell, Del Rey, Doubleday, Phage Press, Tor, Warren Publications and others. In 1988 Hickman wrote The Lemurian Stone (Ace Books), which formed the basis for his Pharazar Mythos illustrations, The Lion Pavillion, is one example, and is also reproduced along with The Archers, in the 1994 edition of Spectrum.

In 1994 he was awarded a Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention for the United States Postal Service’s Space Fantasy Commemorative Booklet of stamps, the first official recognition by the government of the SF genre.

In 1996, Hickman created the Cthulhu statuette inspired by an earlier cover illustration done for H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Call of Cthulhu (Baen Books). The statuette was produced and distributed by Bowen Designs. A second edition is now available, as well as a bust of H.P. Lovecraft himself.


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Hamilton Institute of Exopaleontology long-range exploration ship/relic-piracy control cruiser Tripitaka approaches the GD Anolis binary star system. A 395 million year old space colony ruin was salvaged from its orbit around the current innermost planet (originally the fourth or fifth planet before the expansion of GD Anolis A into an unstable Type-K supergiant). The alien ruin would soon have been destroyed by the dying star if not preserved.


Welcome to Emerald City, an on-line magazine devoted to science fiction and fantasy literature, published by Cheryl Morgan. If you are new to this site you may find it useful to check the "About" section before diving in to the 'zine. Everyone else, thanks for coming back.

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Science Fiction
by Sean Axmaker In the movies, the term science fiction has been applied equally to genuinely speculative flights of fiction and any fantasy with a futuristic setting, a ray gun, an alien monster or a space ship.

2001: A Space Odyssey

By one reckoning, we can trace the birth of science fiction back to the pioneering days of film itself. Georges Melies's A Trip to the Moon is nothing if not a fantasy invigorated by a magician's delight in spectacle and camera tricks and a showman's sense of fancy, but this 19th century lark established the essentials of much of 20th century science fiction cinema: futuristic hardware, strange new worlds, weird monsters and dazzling special effects. Toss in adventure, and you've got the rocket-powered comic-inspired serials starring Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and, decades later, Star Wars (I mean, really, are the "scientific principles" really much more sophisticated?).

By another reckoning, however, you could peg the 1916 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the first film to visualize Jules Verne's visionary 19th century submarine, as the birth of a science fiction cinema that attempted to convince us that these fantastic worlds really could and, for a couple of hours, really did exist. This is the cinema spun (to a greater or lesser degree) from scientific extrapolation and social speculation, a cinema of utopias, dystopias and serious attempts to look at the dynamics between technology and society; a more rarified side of the genre can be seen in such disparate films as A Clockwork Orange (1971), Solaris (1972), The Road Warrior (1981), Blade Runner (1982) and Gattaca (1997).

It's all science fiction, an elastic genre that defies all definitions put to it. The term wasn't even invented until 1923, decades after Jules Verne and HG Wells inaugurated the genre with their speculative novels and, unlike such vibrant genres as the horror film and the western, developed no real cinema traditions until decades later.

Silent Science Fiction

In the silent era, you were more likely to find the future tackled onscreen in films from Europe than the US. Russian cinema used science fiction as a lens through which to view the ideals of socialism and the threats to that ideal, notably in the visually delirious space-opera spoof Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924), about a social revolution on Mars.

Fritz Lang's most famous contribution to the genre is surely Metropolis (1926), a film more allegorically than scientifically based and indebted to the epic scale of his adaptations of Wagner's operas. It's a magnificent, visually mesmerizing spectacle that subscribes more to alchemy than science. More genuinely visionary are The Woman in the Moon (1929), a trip to the moon and a mix of space opera and spies that anticipates not merely the modern rocket and zero gravity, but also created the now iconic countdown; and Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922), where world domination is accomplished through technology and the control of information. The tradition was carried on into the German films of the early sound era, such as the 1933 The Tunnel (which was remade in Britain in 1935) and F.P. 1 Doesn't Answer (1932).

The 30s, 40s and 50s

In 1930s America, you were more likely to find mad scientists than serious scientists: Frankenstein (1931) and its sequels, The Island of Lost Souls (1933; from Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau), The Invisible Man (1933) and Dr. Cyclops (1940), the entertaining "shrinking human" thriller with Albert Dekker. On the other end of the spectrum were the space-age adventure serials inaugurated by Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, comic strip pulp brought to the big screen with two-fisted heroes piloting bulbous rocket ships.

One truly speculative film of the decade is Things to Come (1936), the ambitious, rather archly serious adaptation of the HG Wells novel The Shape of Things to Come. Co-scripted by Wells himself, it's clunky and slow, his stilted dialogue better read than said, and his ideas are hardly revolutionary: the film places its hope in science and enlightenment to battle the forces of war and barbarism. It's more famous for the fantastic futuristic designs by director William Cameron Menzies - the glass and chrome and sparkling white surfaces on sleek art deco designs of our idealized destiny set against the bombed-out rubble of the holocaust that awaits us if we don't change our self-destructive ways.

In one sense, nothing really changed in the 1940s. The movies gave us more mad scientists (notably in the Universal monster movie sequels) and comic book serials (including the superhero cinema of Batman, Captain America, and Superman): sci-fi as pulp juvenilia. In another sense, the 1940s changed everything: WWII brought a genuine madman to the brink of world domination, introduced rockets in the form of deadly missiles and unleashed the power of atomic energy in a mushroom shaped cloud. All that simply didn't make itself felt in the movies until the next decade.

The 1950s was the golden age of American science fiction. The decade brought forth such masterpieces as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Thing From Another World (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), Forbidden Planet (1956), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and, from Britain, The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown) (1955) and Quatermass II (aka Enemy From Space; 1957). Finally, Hollywood was creating its own traditions and finding its own uniquely American sensibilities.

Left to its own devices, Hollywood favored spectacle over speculative fiction, which can be seen, for example, in Disney's thrilling live action version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), the not-quite-as-thrilling but gorgeously designed Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), the retro-futurism of The Time Machine (1960) and the inner-space trip into the human body Fantastic Voyage (1966). But science fiction has always been more accurate at reflecting the conditions of its own time than predicting the details of things to come, and 1950s SF cinema is rife with anxiety and paranoia.

Watch the Skies!

It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to see the alien invasion films as a veiled reference to the Red Menace, at least not in films like I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958) and Red Planet Mars (1952; now there;s a giveaway of a title). "Watch the skies," is the warning given the audience at the end of The Thing From Another World (1951), Howard Hawks's paranoid portrait of an isolated group of soldiers and civilians in an Arctic research station fighting the savage alien survivor of a UFO crash landing. ("An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles!") Taut, tense, energetic and bubbling with vivid characters who band together despite clashes, it's classic Hawks (whose fingerprints are all over the perfectly structured, crisply directed ensemble piece, though he only takes credit as the producer) and the first great alien invasion film.

Less allegorical is War of the Worlds (1953), the George Pal-produced adaptation of HG Wells's legendary novel, which he updates to modern day California and fills with sleek, sinister looking jet-like flying saucers in place of the spider-like walkers of the novel. Created on a large canvas, it was one of Hollywood's first attempts to take science fiction seriously (it helped that it came from a respected work of literature) and remains a landmark of the genre. In its wake came Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), famous largely for Ray Harryhausen's images of flying saucers crashing into landmarks in our nation's capital, and such low budget invasion thrillers as Target Earth (1954), in which Earth is invaded by giant robots and the best special effect is the unsettlingly empty city, and Kronos (1957), with its single, skyscraper-sized robot, a giant battery propelled by pile driver feet across the desert. ...


LET'S SPEAK ALIEN - In Ten Easy Lessons
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