The Many Works of Anne McCaffrey

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3/1/2006:  Alien Landscapes
by Cheryl Miller

The book Alien Landscapes seeks to bring to life 10 alien worlds from popular science fiction series: Rama (Arthur C Clarke, Okie Cities (James Blish), Mesklin (Hal Clement), Eros (Harry Harrison), Arrakis (Frank Herbert), Ringworld (Larry Niven), Trantor (Isaac Asimov), Hothouse (Brian Aldiss), End of the World (H.G. Wells), and of course Pern (Anne McCaffrey!) There are three illustrations per world, done by noted sff illustrators of the day. The accompanying text for each world explains its history & politics, climate, geography, flora & fauna, and location in the galaxy.

Alien Landscapes by Robert Holdstock and Malcolm Edwards (text authors, not illustrators) was published as a hardcover in 1979 by Mayflower Books of New York -- though the book says it was printed in Italy. ISBN 0-8317-0258-0 The Pern illustrations were done by Roger & Linda Garland. There seems to be a later paperback version that was published by Mayflower as well. Both editions are oversized book

The three Pern images open with a view of Benden Weyr during Ramoth and Mnementh's first mating flight. The caption for the image discusses Lessa empathetically sharing her queen's ecstasy, and the "fury of the contest still show[ing] in the new Weyr-leader's face as he waits to possess the Weyr-woman in the human way."

As depicted, I don't think that Weyr is structurally sound enough to live in.

The second image illustrates a Threadfall battle.

Personally I find this to be one of the ugliest Pern illustrations I've ever seen, both for the scaly dragons with weirdly webbed wings (sorry, not visible on the small version, email me for a larger one) and humanoid eyes, and for the freaky depiction of Thread which appears rather like a brain and spinal cord. I'm also not impressed with the lack of formation of the wing of dragons in the foreground, which is a recipe for burns and collisions (though two properly organized wings occur in the background).

The third image shows Ramoth and Lessa in the skies overlooking Ruatha, with the Red Star overhead.

While I don't care for the depiction of Ruatha as a castle built up from the mountain rather than more being built within it -- or the haphazardness of the cotholds (again, too small to see here, email me), I do love the colors in this image, especially of the mountain of the left-hand side which seem opalescent.

As of 3/1/2006, numerous copies are currently available from online booksellers, for prices ranging from $4-30 (US).  For tips on locating copies of this or other items, email Cheryl (address in page footer) or post a message at A Meeting of Minds.

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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey’s fiction are copyright
Anne McCaffrey 1967-2007, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.

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