REVIEW SUMMARY: Mmmm…cityscapes…
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Collects the artwork of Stephan Martiniere beyond that presented in Quantum Dreams.
PROS: Outstanding vision and imagination; images evoke a sense-of-wonder.
CONS: The alien sketch work was good, but the cityscapes steal the show.
BOTTOM LINE: A very good showcase of the Martiniere’s road range.
(Warning: Juicy visuals follow the break…)
Stephan Martiniere is one of the premiere science fiction cover artists working today. Just one look at his work evokes the sense of wonder that science fiction fans demand: sprawling cityscapes, enormous space ships, realistic creatures. His latest book, Quantumscapes, does a very good job at showcasing his broad range.
The first chapter shows artwork done for book covers. A large portion of these are cityscape paintings which are, in my opinion, where Martiniere creates some of his most visually stunning work. The amount of detail in these images is amazing and the overall picture shows great imagination.
A section on film and commercial work contains sketch work which shows Martiniere has talent beyond the digital canvas. Only a few of these were carried to “production-level” artwork, though, where it becomes obvious that Martiniere has given more thought to anatomy than can be seen in the rough pencil/charcoal drawings. In other words, the drawings only hint at the full capability of the artist’s vision.
A chapter on games presents pieces done for Magic: The Gathering, Myst 5 and Heaven: The Game, while another chapter presents his personal work. Saying that there are more aliens and more landscapes doesn’t quite do justice to the consistently high level of quality Martiniere exhibits. Case in point: The final chapter of Quantumscapes dissects the creation of the image done for the book Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson. It follows the production from initial sketch (“loose scribbles” that focus on composition instead of detail) to its awe-inspiring result. At the close of the chapter and book, Martiniere writes: “…eventually the end result is better than anything I could have imagined.” I find this to be overly modest: it’s clear that Martiniere has imagination and talent to spare.
The artwork in the book – with the usual beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder caveat – is outstanding. For me, his cityscapes are jaw-dropping much the same way the city vistas of the Star Wars prequels were – which he also worked on. The book itself is of respectable production value. It consists of glossy pages of a nice hefty stock so images from opposite pages don’t show through. A few notes accompany each image offering Martiniere’s thoughts on that work. This soft cover book is only 95 pages long which seems a bit short based on his output, but not when you consider that his other work is showcased in the previously-released Quantum Dreams. I’d love to see a “complete works” omnibus, but that just gluttony talking. There’s plenty of wonder to be found in Quantumscapes.