Chris Foss, visionary artist for the Space Generation

I’ve just bought a copy of “Hardware – the definitive SF works of Chris Foss” – an ideal read on a wet and stormy afternoon. A massive piece of work of 240 pages, it lovingly pictures the incredible visions of this remarkable artist. Often imitated but never bettered, Chris’ output of vast spaceships, alien landscapes and galactic skies marched across the covers of my favourite SF novels for a whole generation. For people of my age his work defined the entire genre of space opera. While Foss was notorious for producing covers for books he had never read, it is difficult to imagine a better pairing than Foss and E E “Doc” Smith of Lensman and Skylark fame.

In an introduction Rian Hughes writes, “If there had been no Chris Foss, there may have been no Star Wars. The triangular ship Foss created for A E Van Vogt’s Moonbeast in 1975 uncannily foreshadows the Imperial Star Destroyers, both in design and – perhaps more importantly – a sense of sheer scale, one on the order of cities rather than mere ships.”

OK, you know I like Star Wars models, and you may know I paint a little, but why did I include this appreciation in a Meccano Blog? Because with delight I came to Chris’ own words, looking back on a childhood spent in Guernsey:

“As a child I was obsessed with my model railway layout and Meccano. I was building and making things from a very early age – I built huge cranes. The machinery of the Victorian era was what I grew up with.”

Strange for a man who became best known for painting visions of the future! But very much a space-punk future, far removed from the sleek cigar-tube ships envisaged by his predecessors. One full of nuts and bolts, girders and beams.

So, there you find yet another seminal mind influenced as a child by his love for Meccano. No Meccano, perhaps no Foss space ships, maybe no Star Wars as we know it!

There is a thesis to be written one day on famous names who were first inspired by Meccano…

But for now, back to my new book…..


One of Chris Foss's immense spaceships

ISBN9781848566989, Titan Books, £24.99, US$34.95.


About Philip Webb

Chairman of the International Society of Meccanomen
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