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Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great…
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Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great Aliens from Science Fiction… (1979)

by Wayne D. Barlowe, Beth Meacham, Ian Summers

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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I liked the book. But, without knowing many of the back stories of the aliens, I didn't really connect to them. Also, I like how they look in my imagination! The drawings are well done - The illustrator/author is a very talented man. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Dec 1, 2013 |
Critter pictures!

Really, it is interesting to see how someone else imagines the alien creature you also had in your head. Works well as a place to find SF books, too. I might not always agree with the depictions, but I never found it dull. ( )
  Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials is a compilation of illustrations by Wayne Barlowe depicting fifty imagined aliens drawn from works of science fiction. The book was first published in 1979, and this edition was printed in 1987, so aliens drawn from more recent works won't be found in its pages. Even so, the books provides an interesting and enjoyable overview of the myriad forms of aliens that science fiction authors envisioned up until that point.

The basic format of the book consists of a two page layout describing and illustrating each alien. Most of the aliens are from fairly well known works of fiction, such as the Overlords from Childhood's End, the Puppeteers from Ringworld (and other books), or the Masters from The City of Gold and Lead, but there are several much more obscure examples from works that either were fairly obscure at the time, or have drifted into obscurity as time has passed. Each two-page spread lists the source work and author for the alien, gives a brief description giving its basic attributes, such as its physical characteristics, habitat, and culture, and a full page full color illustration. Most entries also have a couple of smaller illustration showing unusual or interesting characteristics of the alien in question.

All of the illustrations are well-done, depicting the various aliens with, from what I can tell, fair accuracy. The descriptive text that accompanies each set off illustrations is a little bland, for the most part simply relating the basic descriptions and attributes of the alien in question. In most cases, I think the descriptive text would have been substantially enhanced by the inclusion of a discussing how the alien being described fit into the source material, giving examples of specific characters who are members of the particular alien race, and maybe providing some quotes or very brief excerpts from the originating work. Including this sort of detail would have gone a long way towards making the aliens depicted come alive. As it is, the book is an amazing technical achievement of interpretive illustration, but most of the entries seem somewhat dry and distant.

With its superior illustrations depicting aliens that mostly could otherwise only be imagined based upon written descriptions, this illustrated guide is a very worthwhile addition to any science fiction fan's library. This recommendation comes with the caveat that each description is very dry, and gives limited context as to why the various aliens are interesting or why they were chosen for the book. Anyone who is not already familiar with Dune and its sequels will be unlikely to glean much useful information concerning why they were chosen for inclusion out of the Guild Steersman entry, for example. I don't think it is surprising that the most evocative artwork in the book, in my opinion, is the set of pencil drawings found in the closing pages, which depict several of the aliens from the main body of the book engaged in various activities, but also shows Thyfe, an alien of Barlowe's own invention interacting with an alien landscape of Barlowe's own design. That said, this book is an enjoyable resource that is sure to serve as a walk down memory lane for books one has already read, and possibly a spur to seek out new reading material for books one has not.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
1 vote StormRaven | Dec 1, 2010 |
Great artwork, great concept. It's a nice addition to any science fiction library. ( )
  labbit440 | Mar 10, 2008 |
Wonderful Illustrations! I have used this to promote scifi to my friends. I found it brand new in wrapper at a yard sale in 1988. I was sold on the cover. Price $.50
One of the things I really like about it is that there is a little info on the subject and it sites the source. I have purchased some of my books from those citations.
Highly recommended for any interested in the scifi genre. ( )
  skwirlinator | Jan 15, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wayne D. Barloweprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Meacham, Bethmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Summers, Ianmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Meacham, Bethsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Summers, Iansecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, Sy and Dorothea, and my sister, Amy, whom I could not love more.

Wayne Douglas Barlowe
To my brother, Henry, and my uncle, Ben Summers, for their love.

Ian Summers

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0894803247, Paperback)

In this illustrated field guide to extraterrestrials-a 1980 nominee for the ABA and Hugo Awards and named one of the Best Books of Spring 1980 by School Library Journal-Wayne Douglas Barlowe paints 50 denizens of popular science fiction literature. 150 full-color paintings show each character not only in full figure but also in detail highlighting distinctive characteristics. Humanoids, insectoids, reptilians, and more are included. Field notes explain movement, diet, respiration, and reproduction habits. The book also features a pull-out chart showing comparative sizes, and a section devoted to Barlowe's own sketchbook of works in progress. Selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. 267,000 copies in print.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

50 aliens from science fiction plus a special section taken directly for the artist's sketchbook, featuring renderings, notes and locomotive studies.

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