Ducking into used bookstores over weekends and after work, I have become a bit of a sci-fi paperback junky. I love the feeling of rummaging through stacks of forgotten paperbacks and discovering that hidden gem of a cover. There is just something about the idea of the future as illustrated by artists of the past that I find fascinating. If you do enough digging you can come away with some great covers for under a few bucks. Recently I began scanning and cataloguing my finds and this has led me to the idea for a new blog series I will be posting here on Sundays. Every week my post will be inspired by one of the covers I own or a new find. Some of these may be well known while others more obscure. I look at this as a way to learn about and resurrect some of the great cover illustrators and designers of the sci-fi genre. If you have suggestions or your own favorites, leave a comment or contribute to the collection of covers with a nice straight on shot of your find and tag it #Sundayscifi on Instagram. I started the tag off with a few of my own images but I would love everyone to include their finds.
To start the post off, I am featuring one of the better known artists of the sci-fi genre. Most know John Berkey for his illustrations for Star Wars, but he holds a massive catalogue of varying types of work. Beginning in the 1960s, he was commissioned by NASA to further their space program as part of their efforts to travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and ultimately to the moon. No matter the type of work, I consistently love his use of color. My personal favorite thing about his work are his spaceships. The details of his images draw you in and you can get lost looking at every tiny detail he includes.
So I met photographer Jeremy Cowart years ago and just like most of the people that get the chance to meet him, I was instantly inspired. His huge heart and love for art and people is obvious. One thing that has always impressed me about Jeremy is his ability to make an idea come to life. He thinks it and then he does it. That’s why when he told me he had an idea for an app I was instantly intrigued. So try to follow this… Jeremy the idea guy had an idea, that idea came to life as an app that helps you create and share ideas. It’s called OKDOTHIS and it’s awesome. I’ve had the opportunity to beta test the app for the last few months and I am kind of addicted. Basically everything begins with an idea which they call a “do” – you submit your “do” to its proper category and then anyone in the community can also do the “do”… and the “do’s” are unlimited. I highly recommend this super fun photo sharing app!
Being someone that loves to doodle all day and create little simple worlds from my imagination, Wilmer Murillo‘s illustration work stuck out to me instantly. Wilmer is a Honduran graphic artist and illustrator currently living in Taiwan. He cites ancient cultures, mysticism, and sci-fi as some of his influences and I think that really comes across in his art. It’s like a Mayan culture was transported to another planet where the only language is downtempo electronic music. Wilmer’s colorful take on central American art is a breath of fresh air. Check out his website for more and you can even purchase his incredible illustrations on Society6.
P.S. Check out this new track from some of my Nashville/LA friends Wild Cub & Madi Diaz.
Sam Smith is one of my favorite designers and an all around great guy. Living in Nashville he produces many posters for the independent theatre The Belcourt. I’m always impressed with Sam’s ability to use simple shapes and warm colors. His art is anachronistic, moving and always makes me take a second look. Check out more work on his website and don’t forget to take a look at the numerous covers and packages he has created for The Criterion Collection.
Like Fuji has been doing for the past few years with their X-series cameras, it seems Nikon wants in on the growing retro-inspired camera market. Nikon’s offering, however, comes across as a lot more serious than anything Fuji has released so far. The ‘Made in Japan’ camera uses the same full-frame 16.2 megapixel sensor and processing engine as their flagship D4 housed within a robust, dust and water resistant body. Interestingly, the camera omits any video capabilities and focuses on providing the dedicated photographer a dazzling array of mechanical dials. Just look at them – they’re beautiful!
Of course, this package doesn’t come cheap. Pricing is set at $2,746.96 for the body-only, and $2,996.95 with a special edition 50mm f/1.8 kit lens. You can expect this price to drop sometime after Christmas, but you have to wonder how willing people will be to buy the 16mp DF over the the fully-professional, 36mp Nikon D800e ($2,996.95 body only) or the now-oil-spot-free D610 ($1,996.95).
Alexander Kopatz is a biologist and wildlife researcher from Svanvik, Norway, who I’ve been following for sometime now through his blog, GO 70° NORTH. I love the way his nostalgic and subtle tones match the stark and expansive landscapes he works in. Highly recommended that you follow him on his blog or updates through his Facebook and Instagram.
Over twenty years in the making and set for a 2018 launch, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the single most advanced space telescope ever constructed. Successor to NASA’s beloved Hubble Space Telescope, JWST has been purpose-built for studying the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to give astronomers an ability of seeing past clouds of dust and gas and further back to the beginning of the Universe than we ever have. How far? According to NASA the JWST will see the Universe’s very first star formations taking place only 100 to 250 million years after the Big Bang. Such distant and precise observations promise to unleash a torrent of new discoveries and unlock fundamental quandaries about the origin of the cosmos and life in the Universe.
A few interesting facts:
• JWST’s primary mirror is a 6.5 meter diameter gold coated beryllium reflector that is too large for contemporary launch vehicles, so the mirror is being composed of 18 hexagonal segments (as seen above), which will all unfold after the telescope is launched. Why Hexagons? It’s beyond my comprehension, but supposedly this has something to do with hexagons having a perimeter less than that of a square over a given area, which translates to a gained efficiency for steering the mirror segments and focusing the telescope.
• The telescope will maintain an L2 orbit, meaning that it will orbit in earth’s shadow and around the sun, not the earth. The idea here is to eliminate all possible heat / light sources, such as Earth’s heat-shimmer, and keep the telescope as cold as possible. How cold? Extremely. Cold. The JWST’s mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) will operate at a set temperature of 7 Kelvins, or -266° C / -447° F, through the use of a helium refrigerator, or cryocooler system (source).
• Although JWST’s primary goal is to study the first galaxies or stars that formed after the Big Bang, the telescope is also capable of measuring the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems within our Milky Way and will investigate the potential for life in those planetary systems.
• When launched, some scientists suggest the telescope will represent a greater technological achievement than landing on the moon.
First discovered by the Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s, NASA has recently released new images of the mysterious hexagon-shaped storm on Saturn’s northern pole. Taken with their Cassini Spacecraft, visible light images like this were not originally possible when Cassini arrived at Saturn back in 2004 due to the entire northern hemisphere being in winter solstice.
The hexagon measures 25,000 km (15,500 mi) across, with each side being 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long. As the above image demonstrates, it’s wide enough to fit nearly four earth’s inside of it.
The hexagonal ring itself is created by a jet stream, while the center contains a spiralling vortex of clouds. Scientists say that the storm reaches speeds up to 354 km/h (220 mph).
In short, we can’t figure it out. Namely, scientists don’t currently understand where the storm obtains and expels its energy, or how/why it has stayed in such an organized shape for so long.
You can read more about this hexagonal goodness here and view more images here.