Tuesday, 6 March 2012

GALACTIC ENCOUNTERS: ALIENS IN SPACE - AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE INHABITED GALAXY

Intercontinental Book Productions hardback, 1979. Cover painting by
Bob Layzell.

"One of the more significant developments in human history, and without doubt the most dramatic in terms of mobility of he species, was the introduction of the first Hyperdrive engine by Henri DeVass in 2027 AD. Within a short space of time this device had transformed Man's attempts to explore his extraterrestrial environment, and the doorway to the stars was open. 
The question of whether we were along in the Universe had haunted Homo Sapiens for generations, but even those believing most fervently in the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the vast reaches of space, had little idea that it would be discovered so close to our solar system, or that contact would lead directly to the founding of a great galactic empire. 
Aliens in Space is a fascinating account of the worlds within the Galactic Federation where sentient beings exist, and describes the characters, cultures and circumstances of an extraordinary variety of creatures, from the gentle and sophisticated Alpha Centaurians to the terrible Fangstones of Hades. Each section opens with a planetary data check and navigational reference, before going on to outline the planet and some of the intriguing life-forms to be found there. 
Steven Caldwell joined the galactic Federation Security Force in 2393 and quickly rose to the rank of Group 1 Battleforce Commander. During his 15 years of active service he travelled to all parts of the Federation, and was awarded the Andromeda Star for his part in the settlement of the Perimeter Worlds. He now runs his own company prospecting for the ore Zyrillium - the major propulsive for Interstellar Military Interceptors. 
The GALACTIC ENCOUNTERS series is produced by the Federal Data Bureau which was formed in 2168 as a division of the Galactic Information Service in order to provide a comprehensive service for space travellers. 
Although most of its publications are highly technical programmes for licensed spacecraft operators only, the series was developed to satisfy the the growing demand for information of a more general nature, and to serve as an introduction to the rich variety of life within the Galactic Federation."

Painting by Bob Layzell.
"The settlements of Gadgetia are entirely industrial in nature and offer little in the way of amusement to travellers. They are, however, a fascinating race and there are sufficient points of interest to justify a brief stay, although the only places suitable for humans to relax are the domed glass solar centers where the inhabitants top up their energy levels."
Painting by Joe Petagno.
"Due to their extraordinary powers, the solitary wandering people of Nova Nevada are known as the Magicians."
Painting by Tony Roberts.
"A private solar-sailer encounters the infrequent but no less unpleasant phenomenon of the high-flying creatures of Swarmy as they congregate during the mating season in the manner which earned the planet its name."
Painting by Mike Masters.
"Very often the first sight visitors to Reptilia have of the local wildlife is the arrival of the nearest Scarlet Dragon whose ferocious-looking form belies its placid and inquisitive nature."
Painting by Chris Moore.
"The ponderous dormant species of Matar IV is a wholly unpredictable creature, and it is best to avoid any unnecessary contact. Although frequently generous in their dealings with off-worlders, they are as likely to erupt into an unprovoked rage."

Essentially re-purposed paperback covers, artist portfolio pieces and other examples of fine SF art of the late 1970s, Aliens In Space is part of the series of Galactic Encounters books. As the synopsis gives away, this one is a guide to extraterrestrial life-forms in a fictional Galactic Federation, rather similar to Steven Eisler's The Alien World - The Complete Illustrated Guide, which I also have (see post here). This one amusingly re-uses a painting of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu by Terry Oakes to illustrate a Reptilian alien called the Slycath, and R'lyeh is its sophisticated aquatic civilization. Peter Elson's painting for the Hamlyn paperback cover of Henry Kuttner's Mutant (see post here) doubles as a Proximan; hairless beings resembling humans in all ways but for the arrangement of their internal organs. I love these books, at times it's a little difficult if you're familiar with the artwork to accept that painting X is a depiction of alien Y, but the descriptions really are brilliant and imaginative, if a little juvenile sometimes - emphasis on a little, and sometimes.
Post a Comment