Spacegoing Earth: a painting by Angus McKie

When I first saw this Angus McKie illustration, I had a moment when I thought it depicted the Earth being encased in a huge, space-going shell and I flashed back to Damon Knight's spectacular novel Why Do Birds?, a straight-faced yet comic novel about a man who puts the whole human race in a box. Then I realized that the picture depicted a hollow, space-going sphere being fitted with an armored cover and my mind spun into a deep future from which it hasn't entirely returned. Beautiful work. Here's the official McKie site, but it appears to be down.

Angus McKie


    1. Absolutely every painting of a space ship is like this.  I think in the future all space ship designers will have OCD, or maybe meth.

  1. Looks like a Bernal Sphere. And judging by those field divisions, about the size of the eponymous Rama spaceship in Rendezvous with Rama.

    You’ve probably already long since seen this.

    1. That was the cover to the edition of The High Frontier by GK O’Neill that I bought way back when, so I think, yes, it’s meant to be a Bernal sphere.

    2. Assuming it’s spinning, the “gravity” drops off as you move away from the equator. That river doesn’t make much sense. Rama was a cylinder spinning arounds its long axis, so the astrounauts entered at the end in near weightlessness and “descended” ladders outward, with the force getting larger the further they got from the axis. That way, the majority of the surface area inside had full (and uniform) “gravity”. A sphere is a bad choice.

      That picture bothers me more than it is supposed to. Or than it should.

      1. The main advantage is that, for any given material strength, a Bernal sphere can be built larger because it’s a more efficient pressure vessel. It also provides a more encompassing ratio of shielding from cosmic radiation to habitable surface area. The shape does seem counter-intuitive, though.

      2. The sphere interior could be terraced I suppose, or it could have cylindrical structures inside, like suspended residential areas above farms which are like terraced hill farms.

  2. If you read Heavy Metal magazine back in the late 70s/early 80s, then you already knew that Angus McKie was wayyy ahead of the curve. He’s the Chesley Bonestell of comic books.

  3. It’s a beautiful image. The ship in the foreground reminds me of Chris Foss’ book cover illustrations. They were what got me into SF in the first place, the books on my dad’s bookshelves that had a Chris Foss cover were guaranteed to be good.

        1. It wasn’t in the original request, so we put it in the backlog. We may be able to fit it into the next sprint if the priority is high enough. Please contact the scrum master for priority assessment of your request.

          1. “I find your lack of louvers… disturbing.”

            “Sir, we can put it on back order…”

  4. If those fields are sized similarly to what you’d see from an airplane window, then it’s not nearly planet=sized, although it is pretty awesome in scale. I wonder how they handle river flow.

  5. Angus McKie (no relation) was one of my favorite SF artists from the time that I first came across his work in the Stewart Cowley collections. For some reason, I just liked his paintings consistently better than most of the others.

    His more recent work, however, is very different. You can still see similarities to his early work but – to my eye – it’s much cruder, less ‘real’ seeming, and the colors have gone from subtle to massively over-saturated. I really wonder what happened there.

  6. Just looks like a mobile Dyson Sphere. Given the energy requirements of a Dyson Sphere, why not make it movable?

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