Who knew that I'd ever feel myself confident in making an illustration to one of my favoritest books ever, a novel that muchly formed my mindset when I was a young teen, made me love sci-fi and all kinds of spec-ops thematics and generally had been a great partner - if you can say so about the book.
This is my rendition of Eric Frank Russell's "Wasp", depicting it's protagonist-terrorist James Mowry disguised as a Sirian and nervously eluding the planet's secret police force, the Kaitempi, while parading as one of them.
I tried to maintain a subtle nod in this rendition to classic science fiction coverart, with smooth transitions and bright dramatic colors. It was also a fun experiment in designing the garb of the characters, since in the book they were portrayed as space-azns of sorts in their social structure.
And of course it was uber fun to design the gun, another tribute to the retro feel - I strayed away from the cylindrical forms of classic rayguns, but still I think managed to achieve a distinct look.
Wasp is a 1957 science fiction novel by English author Eric Frank Russell. Terry Pratchett (author of the Discworld series of fantasy books) stated that he "can't imagine a funnier terrorists' handbook." Wasp is generally considered Russell's best novel.
The title of Wasp comes from the idea that the main character's actions and central purpose mimic that particular insect; just as something as small as a wasp can terrorize a much larger creature in control of a car to the point of causing a crash and killing the occupants, so the defeat of an enemy may be wrought via psychological and guerrilla warfare by a small, but deadly, protagonist in their midst.
Set in an unspecified time in the future, the plot centers on protagonist James Mowry and an inter-planetary war between humans (collectively referred to as "Terrans") and the Sirians (collectively referred to as the Sirian Empire, from Sirius). The war has been in effect for nearly a year as the story begins. The Terrans, while technologically more advanced in most respects to the Sirians, are outnumbered and out-gunned by a factor of twelve-to-one.
The Sirians are a humanoid species that share many of the same physical characteristics as their Terran enemies. Some of the more noticeable differences are their purple-faced complexions, pinned-back ears, and a bow-legged gait. In terms of government, the Sirian Empire is reminiscent of asian totalitarian states they frequently employ a much-feared secret police force named the Kaitempi (an obvious allusion to the Japanese Kempeitai, or Kaimina Tempiti); they censor much of their media, and they actively seek to quell any opposition to the government or the war through the use of violence and intimidation.
The novel begins by introducing James Mowry as he is being recruited by the Terran government to infiltrate enemy lines; to become a "wasp," in the sense portrayed in the opening passages of the novel. His recruitment is somewhat less than voluntary: Mowry is offered the alternative of conscription and assignment to the front. His dossier states that he can be counted on to do anything, provided the alternative is worse. So persuaded, he accepts the assignment.
It was an extremely pleasant experience to work on this piece.