Lord of the Rings
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The Wizard of Oz
E.E. "Doc" Smith
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Other Science Fiction
The imagery for Imperial Walkers (and even the ice planet Hoth) may have been inspired by this Syd Mead painting, published in the 1961 book Concepts1
Syd Mead began his career as a designer for the Ford Motor Company in 1959. From there he established himself as an in-demand "futurist" for several major corporations. In 1978 Mead designed V'ger for Star Trek The Motion Picture, which began his long career as one of the handful of artists most responsible for the modern vision of science fiction in film:
* McQuarrie did concept work for the second Star Trek series in 1977, which was never completed but strongly influenced the films and the Next Generation series.
The original science fiction "walkers" were the martian tripods from H.G. Wells 1897 novel The War of the Worlds. Can you imagine how mind-blowing the image of giant three-legged, tentacled war machines from another planet was in 1897? In those days most people had never even seen an automobile with their own eyes. H.G. Wells had such an incredible imagination that he was widely known as "The man who invented the future."
Sources: 1Infinite Worlds; The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art, by Vincent Di Fate, artist identified by Nathan Campbell; 2Lucas interviews.
Star Wars: Origins © 1999-2006 by Kristen Brennan,
part of the Jitterbug Fantasia webzine.