The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss: exclusive preview

Foss Front Lr

Titan Books gave me permission to present samples from the new art book, The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss. It's available in a standard edition for $21.14, and a special edition for $75 that comes in a slipcase with an alternate cover, an extra 8-page cover gallery and a signed Chris Foss print in an envelope.

Foss’s groundbreaking and distinctive science fiction art revolutionized paperback covers in the 1970s and 80s.  Dramatically raising the bar for realism and invention, his trademark battle-weary spacecraft, dramatic alien landscapes and crumbling brutalist architecture irrevocably changed the aesthetic of science fiction art and cinema.

Featuring work for books by Isaac Asimov, E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. Van Vogt and Philip K. Dick, and film design for Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick, this volume brings together many rare and classic images that have never been seen or reprinted before. The first comprehensive retrospective of Chris Foss’s SF career.

All images © Chris Foss courtesy







  1. Ah . . . memories knocking loose.

    For a few years in the 1980s, collections of this guy’s art were matched up with descriptive material to make it look like they were from a consistent background. Kind of like Barlow’s Guide but for spacecraft.

  2. Huh, I was utterly convinced these were illustrations by Manchu, who has illustrated most french editions of SF booksfrom my childhood. The styles are so close! He also has an artbook, which would probably of interest to Chris Foss fans.

    I suppose Manchu must’ve been inspired by Foss, he links back from his blog.

    1. Oh, man, Spacewreck. How many times did I sign that out of the library? I think I redrew every single ship in that book when I was <10.

  3. My dad bought me the book about the Spacecraft of the Terran Trade Authority when I was a wee snapper, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Great memory!

  4. My Dad used to refer to my Doc Smith covers as ‘Australian spaceships’ in reference to the tacked on architectural look reminiscent of outback humpies. Just as well Foss did the artwork, since I don’t think I’d glance twice at the original cover editions.

    One should never judge a book by its cover, but one always tends to do what one should not.

    1. According to “What the Font,” it’s Range in two different weights (Medium and Light).

      Looks a pretty good match to me:

      1. Yep, looks like a match to me, thanks for doing that.

        Cool font.  That ‘R’ makes me think of an alien’s leg.

  5. This post makes me extremely happy. I was obsessed with the big collection books of space ships that were made in the 80’s and recently I’ve been trying to figure out what they were called and who did them. I’m 100% positive if the books I’m thinking of aren’t completely by Chris Foss that some of the artwork in them was. They were really large size art books of colossal spaceships that included detailed descriptions of what everything was and what it was doing. 

  6. Is there any other source for the special edition book which allows international shipping to europe?

  7. I remember loving this guys work from way back, and many moons later when the game Homeworld came out they thanked ‘Lucas’ for inspiration but not Foss.  I imagine they got plenty of emails about it because he is carefully thanked in every other HR manual that followed the first game release. 

  8. Just for clarification: there were no Chris Foss illustrations in the Terran Trade Authority books; they were illustrations by other artists working in the Foss style, like Angus McKie and (one of my faves) Peter Elson.  Love Foss and love the TTA books — but Foss himself wasn’t in them.

  9. Fun fact: Foss was also one of the illustrators for the original edition of The Joy of Sex. “Realism and invention”, indeed.

  10. Wonderful work. Makes my hands itch for the glory days of OMNI Magazine when they ran painting spreads of futuristic landscapes. I’ll bet I saw his stuff in there when I was younger than 10.

  11. Ah, ha!  I’ve got a copy of 21st Century Foss somewhere as well!

    Foss was really good at painting BIG spaceships, and making them look very, very, very big!  Great awe-inspiring, sense-of-wonder stuff!

  12. Oh man. You guys are killing me. I had no idea that my much beloved copy of Starliners was part of some series but the second I saw the image on this post I was like, this guy has to be in that book (which I always assumed was a collection of different artists). True story: I’ve had that book for probably 25 years or so and never read a word of it until a year ago. I just drank in the images. I was too young to get any of it. I should have known the Happy Mutants would know EXACTLY what book it was.  

    Mack, thanks for posting that link. Great site. 

    1. Huh.  That’s actually who I thought this was at first.  I grew up looking at Mckie’s art books.  There’s one image in particular, a sort of derelict that looks kind of like a thin-fingered hand, that still as unsettling as when I was a kid.  Can’t seem to find it online, though.

  13. I had spacewrecks at a child and I studied that book until it totally fell apart, I re-discovered them on ebay in my mid 20’s and I purchased all the TTA books, just to relive that feeling of being a day dreamy kid again

  14. Brings back memories of the 70s Asimov Panther editions of my youth.  I remember being a little peeved that the images on the cover had no connection at all to the Good Doctor’s stories, but at the same time I couldn’t help but be transported by the sheer awesomeness of Foss’s attention to detail and sense of scale.

  15. I fell in love with Foss’s work (and that of the late lamented Peter Elson) after reading the TTA books as well. Vincent DiFate had a more oil-paint style, but also great.

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