The Dust and Grit of Our Interstellar Future: The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

Titan Books has released another fabulous art book of a contemporary science fiction artist. The Art of John Harris, Beyond The Horizon is as beautiful as the images contained in it.

Titan gives Harris’ work a high-class setting, the staging it needs to allow the viewer to wander through the reproductions without a sea of grey-typed mind-splitting critique that tells us what to we’re supposed to glean from or accept about it. Explanations are minimized and give just enough information to understand what Harris was thinking. In short, it focuses on the gorgeous work itself.

What I enjoy so much about the book’s format is that there are plenty of full and double-page spreads of the paintings. It allows us to see the wonderful strokes, vibrant color, and surface texture that drives the design and compositions of such brave and imaginative pieces.

John’s sense of scale and his ability to push the mass of objects to the edge of believability is obvious here. He can manipulate color and light to get you to feel the weight and burden of such large scale engineering, whether it’s floating in space against a backdrop of stellar nebulas or grounded on an endless plain on Earth or some other unknown rock in space.

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

It is fascinating how Harris embeds the atmospheric dust and grit of interstellar space into scenes of advanced science. The colors surpass the experimental chroma of Monet while capturing a sense of reality. As if he had shot these scenes with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The book culminates in a series that grew out of one painting created 30 years before, “The Rite of the Silver Path,” on page 108. John describes how this visual fantasy evolved over the years to include over 70 pieces about an artist traveling to an imagined world, recording its sites, and piecing together it’s fantastic history like an impassioned visual archaeologist. He explains its people and places in brief poetic terms, allowing his fantastic images to stimulate an irresistible curiosity about the culture.

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon

One might consider this the definitive collection of John Harris’ work, except that, as this book shows, he’s not slowing down a bit with his visions.


Gregory Manchess began his freelance career painting for OMNI magazine. His versatility and broad range of interests allowed him to crossover to mainstream illustration. There he was able to expand his client work to include covers for Time, Atlantic Monthly, spreads for Playboy, OMNI, Newsweek, and Smithsonian, and numerous book covers.

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