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Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary
Jane Frank
McFarland, 525 pages

Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary
Jane Frank
Jane Frank is a collector, author, and private art dealer specializing in science fiction and fantasy illustration art. She currently runs Worlds of Wonder, an art agency dedicated to gaining further exposure for the art and the artists associated with the fields of science fiction and fantasy, and lives in McLean, Virginia.

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A review by Steven H Silver

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Look at the cover of the book you've been reading. Chances are you'll see an illustration that evokes the novel within the cover. There is also a good chance that if you look on the back cover or the title page, you won't be able to find the name of the artist who created the work of art which may have caused you to pick up the book in the first place. With the exception of a few major artists in the field, science fiction artists are often overlooked by the reading public. In Jane Frank's Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary, she attempts to alleviate that problem by giving details about the lives and works on hundreds of science fiction artists.

Following a pair of lengthy, detailed introductions by Robert Weinberg and by Frank, the book covers the spectrum of twentieth century science fiction artists. Listed in alphabetical order from Chris Achilleos to John Zeleznik, the more than four hundred entries provide biographical, educational, and professional background of most of the artists. Although Frank was unable to include illustrations beside the art on the cover by Robert Fuqua, she does provide a brief listing of where each artist's work can be located.

The volume ends with a series of appendices which detail the winners of various art awards. While the main text appears to have a strict ending date of 2000 for inclusion, some of the artists who have won awards since that year do appear in the appendices, but not in the biography section. That's understandable but it may cause some confusion since Stephan Martinière and John Picacio have both become major artists in the relatively short time since the twenty-first century began. However, Gary Gianni, who began working in the field as early as 1990, lacks any mention in the volume.

The artists who are included are covered in great detail. Ed Emshwiller's biography runs nearly three full pages, with an additional two pages of listing of his work. Details on an artist not only include their training, but also discuss major works in their career, and milestones, such as noting that an artist was a guest of honor at a regional convention, or their work was made more widely known with advertising credits.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century does contain surprises as well. Harry Harrison may be best known for his science fiction, but his entry in the book notes that Harrison was not only a comic artist for EC Comics, but also collaborated with artist Wally Wood. Similarly, the volume contains a few minor errors. It places Millennium Philcon, the 59th Worldcon, in 2000 instead of 2001, but these appear to be rare.

Frank's work will prove to be an essential reference for anyone doing research into speculative fiction artists of the twentieth century. Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century should be shelved along with the John Clute & Peter Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the John Clute and John Grant Encyclopedia of Fantasy, Neil Barron's Anatomy of Wonder, and other classic science fiction reference works.

Copyright © 2009 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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