The best way to learn about an alien species is not only to live among them, but to become them in both physical form and function, but could a human really learn to think like an alien, and at what cost to his humanity?
A Miracle of Rare Design by Mike Resnick
Anthropological Science Fiction coming from Dog Star Books in Summer 2013
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp
Bradley Sharp discusses A Miracle of Rare Design‘s cover
After reading A Miracle of Rare Design, with its collection of alien worlds, it was the setting of Medina which stayed with me. With the pyramid being an important focus for the initial Medina story, I felt it needed to be featured as a place the main character, (Lennox) is discreetly trying to reach. The buildings of the city are described as being windowless, angular and made of mud. So with all of this in mind I have designed a symmetrical illustration looking down a street with the pyramid in the distance.
At a glance I wanted it to appear as if it could be set in North Africa, but at a closer look there was something alien about it. Large hanks are described hanging out to dry, so I wanted this to be done in a different way. The book also mentions strange religious symbols, which I felt would be another intriguing element to include on the cover, indicating again that this is another world.
As the main character ultimately loses his visual identity, I have represented him being mostly obscured by his robe.
I felt the cover also needed another element. So blocking the route to the pyramid is Chomanche, the high priest and quite an important character to the story. I hope people feel the illustration captures the heart of the book and enjoy this fast paced page-turner as I did.
About the Author: Mike Resnick
Locus, the trade journal of science fiction, keeps a list of the winners of major science fiction awards on its web page. In the short fiction category, Mike Resnick is currently the leading award winner, living or dead, in the all-time standings. When novels are added, he is fourth on the all-time list, ahead of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.
Mike was born on March 5, 1942. He sold his first article in 1957, his first short story in 1959, and his first book in 1962. He attended the University of Chicago from 1959 through 1961, won 3 letters on the fencing team, and met and married Carol. Their daughter, Laura, was born in 1962, and has since become a writer herself, winning 2 awards for her romance novels and the 1993 Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer.
Mike’s first novel in this “second career” was The Soul Eater, which was followed shortly by Birthright: The Book of Man, Walpurgis III, the 4-book Tales of the Galactic Midway series, The Branch, the 4-book Tales of the Velvet Comet series, and Adventures , all from Signet. His breakthrough novel was the international bestseller Santiago, published by Tor in 1986. The number of books he has had published, as both writer and editor, is staggering.
He has been a prolific writer of non-fiction as well. He wrote a 4-part series, “Forgotten Treasures”, to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, produced 59 installments of the how-to column, “Ask Bwana” for Speculations, has (with Barry Malzberg) produced 60 installments of “The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues” to date for the SFWA Bulletin, wrote a bi-weekly column for the late, lamented GalaxyOnline.com, and will now be writing editorials and columns for Jim Baen’s Universe.
Carol has always been Mike’s uncredited collaborator on his science fiction, but in the past few years they have sold two movie scripts — SANTIAGO and THE WIDOWMAKER, both based on Mike’s books — and Carol -is- listed as his collaborator on those. Readers of Mike’s works are aware of his fascination with Africa, and the many uses to which he has put it in his science fiction. Mike and Carol have taken numerous safaris, visiting Kenya (4 times), Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Botswana, and Uganda, and have two more planned for the next four years. Mike edited the Library of African Adventure series for St. Martin’s Press, and is currently editing The Resnick Library of African Adventure, and, with Carol as co-editor, The Resnick Library of Worldwide Adventure, for Alexander Books.
Read more about Mike at http://mikeresnick.com.
Library Journal: As a scholar/adventurer obsessed with immersing himself in alien cultures, Xavier William Lennox seems ideal for a “first contact” mission designed to acquire valuable mineral rights from the natives of the planet Medina. Biologically altered to mimic a firefly-similar in appearance to this world’s indigenous inhabitants-Lennox succeeds a little too well in his mission as he becomes addicted to the thrill of acquiring supra-human perceptions and abilities. Although opening up alien worlds to human exploitation is a recurring theme in Resnick’s novels (e.g., Inferno, LJ 10/15/93), seldom does he focus so intently on the personal cost to the individuals involved. At once a compelling sf adventure and a study of humanity’s greed for knowledge, this title is recommended for most sf collections.
Kirkus: Xavier William Lennox, daredevil writer and scholar, is fascinated by alien peoples and cultures. On the planet Medina, he attempts to learn the religious secrets of the native Fireflies, only to be captured, horribly mutilated, and left for dead. Lennox, however, bears the Fireflies no ill will, and when Nora Wallace of the Department of Alien Affairs offers him an opportunity to return to Medina in a body surgically altered to function as that of a Firefly, he accepts with alacrity. In return, he must persuade the Fireflies to open up their planet to human mining corporations. His mission duly accomplished, Lennox returns to the human Republic still wearing his Firefly body. When Wallace offers him another job, to rescue four humans marooned on the planet Artismo, he jumps at the chance to be surgically transformed into a native Hawkhorn. Again he triumphs. But with each succeeding mission and transformation–on Tamerlaine as a native Wheeler; on Monticello IV as a Singer–he becomes less and less human, until finally he designs himself a composite body and abandons humanity altogether. Another low-key, thoughtful, absorbing entry from Resnick (Inferno, 1993, etc.).
Booklist: Resnick’s latest novel continues his ongoing series of futuristic fables that chronicle the often disastrous consequences of mankind’s attempt to colonize and introduce alien worlds into its own galaxywide Republic. Here, the Republic’s representative is Xavier William Lennox, a compulsive interstellar traveler whose perilous adventures he recounts in best-selling memoirs. After one alien species maims and leaves him for dead, Lennox agrees to undergo several operations that transform him into one of the same species of aliens he’s investigating. Now, with the advantage of alien communication abilities, Lennox can, of course, serve the Republic’s mission of absorbing new worlds. As Lennox explores the wonders of alien experience and understanding firsthand, however, he becomes less and less willing to return to human form. Resnick’s narrative ploy of basic, nuts-and-bolts sf minus the high-tech glitz leaves room for absorbing exploration of extraterrestrial culture and its clash with humanity. This one’s insightful as well as entertaining.