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Alex Jay Brady p5

Artist Alex Jay Brady talks about working with Steve Wheeler author of the Fury of Aces series, and talks about her profound liking of A Canticle for Leibowitz and its sequel...

READERSVOICE.COM: Maul was influenced by Fury of Aces by Steve Wheeler. How did you come to meet the author and which of his works do you like the most?

ALEX JAY BRADY: I’d known of Steve’s amazing blacksmithing work for years on the ConceptArt.org forums so when he got in touch about doing spaceships I was surprised, but it quickly became obvious seeing his work that he was also a master prop maker, so I got to work. Steve paid me in a set of stunning hand crafted knives for myself and my father and friends. He’s that kind of guy!
The Maul image is a photo Steve took of one of his scales which I sketched over. Because the design is so unique, and the model is so well made, it was a really easy fun piece to work on. Unfortunately I got the scale wrong: the ship should actually be smaller in relation to the humans! D’oh!
There’s something about a photo of a really excellent physical model, the shadow temperatures, ambient occlusion, the small analogue gritty details, that really can convince your brain this is a real functional object. The models used in Alien still look completely believable for this reason, so it was a pleasure to get to work with some of that quality.

RV: Cardinal Brownpony returns to Denver was inspired loosely by Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman by Walter M. Miller Jr. How did you find out about this book and what did you like about it?

AJB: I’d read and been haunted by A Canticle for Leibowitz [1959] every few years since I was about 12. Back then I understood about five per cent of it but with each re-reading it opened up more and more. I recently re-listened to the audiobook and I’d forgotten how long and detailed it is. The passages written by some scribe after the Flame Deluge are deeply chilling. So I was keen to track down the rumoured dreadful sequel no one liked.
The ‘sequel’ [St Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, 1997] is more a midquel, as it’s is set around the middle period in the first book and explores the world of the plains nomads, and their interactions with the empires surrounding the plains, in far more detail. It’s very long and strange and doesn’t hold your hand at all, with a lot of complex politicking. It’s not exactly a laugh a minute although it’s often witty and rye but it has a dark magic and black humour Cormac McCarthy can’t match.
The story seems to take a turn in a way I didn’t expect and the result is stunningly bleak but absolutely convincing. The writing was so engrossing I felt like I’d experienced the whole thing. A very realistic (for sf) account that isn’t just about a post nuclear North America, but a young America of the 17th century, and of medieval European religious war. Scary stuff but high quality scares. If you like Game of Thrones or Dune I think you would enjoy it quite a bit.

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– copyright Simon Sandall