The Remakable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

 Virgil Finlay

Virgil Finley illustration for Cordwainer Smith Renowned science fiction artist Virgil Finlay was born in 1914, a year and a couple of weeks after my father, and lived until 1971, a few years longer than Paul Linebarger / Cordwainer Smith. Finlay created over 2500 fastidiously detailed science fiction and fantasy drawings, using a complex technique which involved putting black ink on white scratchboard and then scraping off selected areas. Finlay would combine this with drawing in black ink on the white background. He also did a lot of color work—for magazine covers, for example.

Here's a link to a good webpage about the black-and-white technique, and Virgil Finlay's life and work, in detail. His gentle sensuality always extremely popular with fans, Finlay often worked for very small wages, all that the science fiction magazines paid at that time. Because his method was time-consuming, he often worked very long hours.

I don't know how many Cordwainer Smith illustrations Virgil Finlay did. The illustrated Cordwainer Smith bibliography done by Mike Bennett on this website includes several Finlay covers. There are two magazine covers by Finley on this page, with his name given.

A fan sent me a CD with the Finlay drawings reproduced below, scanned in from a magazine, probably Galaxy, and I have copied three of these below; you can see where the original art spanned two pages.

There have been a number of books published that feature the work of Virgil Finlay; while most are out of print, searching the usual online bookstores might yield you some results. (I went to Amazon and Alibris and was going to create direct links for Virgil Finley but there was so little at either place that I didn't bother. Of course, at a different time, it could be better.)

These scanned-in, reduced, web-graphic-quality images can only give you a hint of the delicacy and subtlety of this art. All of the Virgil Finlay illustrations on are copyright © Lail M. Finlay.

Here are two more illustrations from "On the Storm Planet." The one at the top of the page is from that story too.

Virgil Finley illustration for Cordwainer Smith

Virgil Finley illustration for Cordwainer Smith



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 The Blog
 His Books
 The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith
 Norstrilia, by Cordwainer Smith
 Atomsk, by Carmichael Smith
 Ria, by Felix C. Forrest
 Carola, by Felix C. Forrest
 Psychological Warfare, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul: One Letter
 Books about His Science Fiction
 Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, by Anthony Lewis
 The Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, by Karen Hellekson
 Exploring Cordwainer Smith, Booklet by Andrew Porter
 Where You Can Get Books
 Cordwainer Smith at Amazon
 Cordwainer Smith at Alibris
 Cordwainer Smith at AbeBooks
 Cordwainer Smith on eBay
 Cordwainer Smith, the Author
 A Cordwainer Smith Panel Discussion
 Scholarly Corner, by Alan C. Elms
 What Other Science Fiction Authors Say
 What Readers Say
 Paul M. A. Linebarger, the Man
 Family Photos
 A Daughter's Memories
 Was Paul Linebarger Kirk Allen?
 His Arlington National Cemetery Bio and My Comments
 Rosana's Ramblings
 Rambling 1: Shakespeare Had It Wrong
 Rambling 2: The Return of C'mell, Sort Of
 Art Inspired by Cordwainer Smith
 Virgil Finlay
 Pierre Lacombe
 Craig Moore
 Corby Waste
 Annual Rediscovery Award
 2012 Fredric Brown
 2011 Katherine MacLean
 2010 Mark Clifton
 2009 A. Merritt
 2008 Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2007 Daniel F Galouye
 2006 William Hope Hodgson
 2005 Leigh Brackett
 Leigh Brackett: Her Biography
 2004 Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
 2003 Edgar Pangborn
 2002 R. A. Lafferty
 2001 Olaf Stapledon
 Cordwainer Smith Foundation
 Cordwainer Smith T-Shirts
 Cordwainer Smith: Other Online Resources
 Contact Us
 Illustrated Bibliography, by Mike Bennett
 Introduction to the Illustrated Bibliography
 All the Stories and All the Books
 Chronological Book List
 Magazine Covers
 Book Covers
 Book Covers: Best of Cordwainer Smith
 Book Covers: Instrumentality of Mankind
 Book Covers: Norstrilia
 Book Covers: Planet Buyer
 Book Covers: Rediscovery of Man
 Book Covers: Quest of the Three Worlds
 Book Covers: Space Lords
 Book Covers: Stardreamer
 Book Covers: Under Old Earth
 Book Covers: Underpeople
 Book Covers: You Will Never Be the Same
 Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger - Chronology
 Press Releases
 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Goes to Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2002: About the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award
 2001: First Rediscovery Award Ceremony
 2001: Creation of Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award