Acrylic - 20" x 31"
THE SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH
After running through several preliminary concepts, I arrived at an approach to this book cover that felt perfect to me. The scene I imagined would be some time before the events described in the book; somehow the bright demise of Earth witnessed from afar by the young heirs of human civilization seemed to capture the strange, sad feeling of the whole novel to me. An important component of the intended painting was the radio telescope, bridging the gap between nova in the sky and the figures of the new children in the foreground as it receives the last signals from the dying Earth.
Don Munson and Judy-Lynn del Rey liked the idea and gave me the “go ahead” for the full-scale painting. Upon rereading the manuscript, though, I discovered to my dismay that I had the radio telescope all wrong! Instead of being raised high above the ground on a platform, it was described as being set into the ground! This, of course, ruined my concept because the angle of view couldn't accommodate the change.
I wrestled briefly with whether I should stick to Clarke's text on this or go with my original concept, which I still felt captured the feeling of the book. In the midst of my decision making Judy-Lynn informed me that she thought I should stay away from featuring young children on the cover, since the cover for 2010 displayed one so prominently. She suggested a painting of King Tut's mask against a field of stars, but I didn't like that idea because I was afraid it would lead the viewers to think it was some sort of time-travel story. I persuaded her to let me try to adapt my original idea to the new requirements, and that is how the present illustration came about.
Unfortunately, the “magic” I felt in the original concept got lost somewhat in the transition. Though there is merit in this final result, it remains for me to go back and do a painting of the initially approved sketch before I'll feel I realized my enjoyment for the book.