Spacecraft & Superboosters

© Chris Foss courtesy

How often have you read a book and made an effort to find out who was responsible for the cover? If you can say you have than you are a better person than I am.  I will definitely be looking at book covers more as the art that they are and less as something that just merely exists a lot more often, and I have this book and the art of Chris Foss to thank.

© Chris Foss courtesy

Chris Foss is a British artist that has done a lot of art for book covers; mostly science fiction books. He also illustrated the book The Joy of Sex, but we’re here for his science fiction work.

Hardware is a great book that spans from some of Foss’ early personal work (from the early 60’s) to work he has done in this decade, including a good amount of stuff he did in the 90’s (I mention this because a book of Foss’ art was released in 1990)



  • The paintings are a lot brighter than you’d expect for the subject matter. When you think of space you usually think of dark and dull, because of the infinite blackness of space, but Foss doesn’t follow that idea. He uses a lot of color within his spacecraft. He seems to especially love the use of yellows.
  • Although a lot of the work he did for Isaac Asimov’s work are favorites of mine, you can tell that Foss didn’t hold back or save anything for a specific author/project. He was all in every time.
  • You can also tell that a lot of science fiction concept artists were inspired by Chris Foss’ work. The cover to E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Triplanetary reminds me a lot of a larger version of the ship Serenity from Firefly. And as Rian Hughes points out in the introduction the cover to A.E. Van Vogt’s Moonbeast looks like the precursor to an Imperial Star Destroyer. I would also like to point out that I think the spherical ship done for M. John Harrison’s The Machine in Shaft Ten and Other Stories looks a lot like a smaller version of the Death Star.
Hardware is a great art book, and one you should definitely own. I spent a couple afternoons losing myself in the images on these pages. There’s just so much to imagine from an image of a machine that has had so much thought and care put into its creation. Collecting the work from such an important artist in the sci-fi genre I’m going to say that this belongs on your coffee table next to the work of other great artists like Ansel Adams and Roy Lichtenstein.
I’d like to thank Chris Foss and Titan Publishing for teaching me that even though there’s more to a book than its cover, there’s more to the cover than you’d expect.

© Chris Foss courtesy

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