Feb 23 2011 1:15pm

John Schoenherr’s The Tuvela

I could never resist the beauty and whimsy of this Analog cover by the inimitable John Schoenherr, illustrating a two-part story originally titled, The Demon Breed, by James H. Schmitz.

Two giant otters along with their human friend, Nile, pause high in the tangled limbs of a water world. The strength of the sweeping curve of the main otter draws the eye upward to the adorable animal’s face, placed perfectly next to the magazine’s masthead. Nile is mysterious and sits tantalisingly just off-center for a sense of scale.

The subjects are captured light on thick-jungled dark for drama and instant impact. The warm color jumps from the cool accents of the impression of water through the roots and branches. It sets up interest by giving us just enough to dream about.

I can feel the suppleness of the otters’ coats, smell the salt water and musk of the trees, hear the dripping and lapping of the water against the roots below. I hear insects, birds moving about, distant calls from who-knows-what other bizarre distortions of animal life.

This powerful cover has not stopped stimulating my imagination since long after I’ve read the story. It also shows why covers can be so compelling. The best ones stimulate curiosity for the story, not slavishly depicting a scene.

Schoenherr could give you just the right amount.

Greg Manchess is an artist and writer working in New York and Portland.

James Goetsch
1. Jedikalos
It is a striking cover--I can remember buying it back then and loving the story that went with it! Taking it to school with me, I can remember the other students being intrigued by the cover (12 years old). It made for a nice distraction in my various classes (and thanks to the teachers who let me read it rather than do schoolwork. I actually remember one teacher picking that very issue up, looking at it, then handing it back and saying: At least you're reading).
Paul Ripley
2. matt1616
That's interesting. I just finished reading a different story with two otter creatures. "The Hub: Dangerous Territory" by James H. Schmitz. It's a free ebook from Baen books. It's a compilation and the last story in the book, with the two otters, isn't too bad. But the cover art is considerably worse than the one above by John Schoenherr.
Greg Manchess
3. Greg Manchess
Hey, thanks for that link, Matt. Looking forward to it.

I did the same, Jedikalos. Recently I had to buy another copy of the issue because I had worn mine out.

And as far as inspiring kids to read, I've always thought that we force-feed the classics to children and thereby drive them screaming away from reading. If they bring in their own material, it's because they are interested in reading. Yes, even if it's a comic book. Eventually, those comic readers will branch out, curious about other forms of writing. It will allow them to become broad spectrum readers.

I don't know one book reader that only reads one kind of writing.
Michael Ikeda
4. mikeda

"Tuvela" is basically the same story as "The Demon Breed". "The Demon Breed" is what it was called when it was released as a novel.
Paul Ripley
5. matt1616
Thanks. I wondered about that after I posted. At first I didn't realize it was the same author. Some of his other free books from Baen are pretty good too (the Telzey and Trigger ones). They're compilations of shorter stories.
Michael Walsh
6. MichaelWalsh
Schoenherr ... oh my, such an inceredible artist. His cover for part 3 of Prophet of dune: is stunning. And his scratchboard work, the use of white space, also stunning:
Greg Manchess
7. Gardner Dozois
Schoenherr may have been the best cover artist ever to work for ANALOG. Certainly one of the top two or three, at the least.
Greg Manchess
9. Alan Dean Foster
@Gardner; John was my all-time favorite SF artist. Reminded me very much of Turner. Wildlife was his specialty, which allowed him to portray alien lifeforms with a believability none could match. Decades ago I bought his original to Poul Anderson's Trader Team Analog cover. It's what I show visitors who don't know anything about SF.
Greg Manchess
10. David Stever
I was lucky enough to visit Schoenherr's studio decades ago, and I bought some art including all the art for the first Telzey Amberdon story. Great scratchboard work once again. I always thought it was going to pay for an organ transplant in my old age, but I guess it's paying for my daughter's college tution instead.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment