Ed Emshwiller

Edmund Alexander Emshwiller (February 16, 1925 – July 27, 1990), better known as Ed Emshwiller, was an American visual artist notable for his science fiction illustrations and his pioneering experimental films. He usually signed his illustrations as Emsh but sometimes used Ed Emsh, Ed Emsler, Willer and others.[1][a]

Ed Emshwiller
Edmund Alexander Emshwiller

February 16, 1925
DiedJuly 27, 1990 (aged 65)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Spouse(s)Carol Emshwiller (née Fries)

Background and early career

Born in Lansing, Michigan of Germanic descent, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1947, and then studied at École des Beaux Arts (1949–50) in Paris with his wife, novelist Carol Emshwiller (née Fries), whom he married on August 30, 1949. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York (1950–51).[2]


From 1951 to 1979, while living in Levittown, New York, Emshwiller created covers and interior illustrations for dozens of science fiction paperbacks and magazines, notably Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.[3] He debuted in the pulp magazines with about 50 interior illustrations and four cover paintings for the May to December 1951 issues of Galaxy, a monthly edited by H. L. Gold.[1] In that year or 1952 he also did his first book cover for the U.S. paperback edition of Odd John (Galaxy Publishing Corp.)[1] Because he experimented with a diversity of techniques, there is no typical Emsh cover. His painterly treatment for the August 1951 cover of Galaxy Science Fiction prefigures later work by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Film and video

A single frame from Ed Emshwiller's video Sunstone (1979) was featured on the front cover of this book published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley.

In 1964, a Ford Foundation grant allowed Emshwiller to pursue his interest in film. Active in the New American Cinema movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, he created multimedia performance pieces and did cine-dance and experimental films, such as the 38-minute Relativity (1966). He also was a cinematographer on documentaries, such as Emile de Antonio's Painters Painting (1972), and feature films, such as Time of the Heathen (1964) and Adolfas Mekas' Hallelujah the Hills (1963). Emshwiller's footage of Bob Dylan singing "Only a Pawn in Their Game" on July 6, 1963 at a Voters' Registration Rally in Greenwood, Mississippi, was shot for Jack Willis' 1963 documentary The Streets of Greenwood and appears in D. A. Pennebaker's Dylan documentary, Dont Look Back (1967).

His films of the 1960s were mostly shot in 16mm color, and some of these included double exposures created simply by rewinding the cameras. He was one of the earliest video artists. With Scape-Mates (1972), he began his experiments in video, combining computer animation with live-action. In 1979, he produced Sunstone, a groundbreaking three-minute 3-D computer-generated video made at the New York Institute of Technology with Alvy Ray Smith.[4] Now in the Museum of Modern Art's video collection, Sunstone was exhibited at SIGGRAPH 79, the 1981 Mill Valley Film Festival and other festivals. In 1979, it was shown on WNET's Video/Film Review, and a single Sunstone frame was used on the front cover of Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics, published in 1982 by Addison-Wesley.[5]


After a period as artist-in-residence at the Television Laboratory WNET/13 (New York), where he worked on the effects for The Lathe of Heaven among other projects, he moved to California where he was the founder of the CalArts Computer Animation Lab and served as dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of Arts from 1979 to 1990. He also served as provost from 1981 through 1986.[6]

In 1987, he created his electronic video opera, Hunger, for the 1987 Los Angeles Arts Festival, in partnership with composer Morton Subotnick. It was his last completed work, also presented in October 1989 at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria.


One of Emshwiller's neighbors in Levittown was Bill Griffith, later acclaimed for his Zippy syndicated comic strip, and Griffith's parents sometimes posed as models for Emshwiller's illustrations. Griffith, who credited Emshwiller as an influence on his becoming an artist, was painted by Emshwiller into the front cover of Original Science Fiction (September 1957). Griffith commented, "He didn't point me to cartooning, but he pointed me into art in general and showed me a way of understanding how within one artist, there could exist this pop culture impulse and a fine art impulse."[7]

Archives and awards

Cover of World Without Men by Charles Eric Maine - Illustration by Ed Emshwiller - Ace Books 1958
Cover of World Without Men by Charles Eric Maine - illustration by Ed Emshwiller - Ace Books, 1958

Emshwiller won one of the inaugural Hugo Awards in 1953, as the previous year's best "Cover Artist" (a tie with Hannes Bok). Cover artists and interior illustrators were not thereafter distinguished by the Hugo Award for Best Artist under various names; he won four more during the 1960s under the current "Professional Artist" distinction.[8] On June 16, 2007, he became the third artist inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.[9][b] His paintings of aliens were displayed in the Alien Encounters exhibition of the Science Fiction Museum, which houses the hall of fame, at that time (September 10, 2006 to October 30, 2007).

His papers are archived at the California Institute of Arts.

Personal life

Carol and Ed Emshwiller had three children—Eve Emshwiller, screenwriter Susan Emshwiller (Pollock) and actor-novelist Stoney Peter Emshwiller (The Host, Short Blade). Family members, including his brother Maclellan Emshwiller, often served as models in his illustrations. Carol and Eve Emshwiller can be seen in a Galaxy Science Fiction cover (January 1957).

Emshwiller died of cancer on July 27, 1990, in Valencia, California, where he was cremated.


  • Ortiz, Luis, Ed Emshwiller, Carol Emshwiller, and Alex Eisenstein. Emshwiller: Infinity x Two: The Art & Life of Ed & Carol Emshwiller. New York: Nonstop Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-933065-09-0


  1. ^ From 1951 at least to the mid-1960s, he was generally "Emsh" or "Ed Emsh" for pulp magazine covers and Ed Emshwiller for book covers. He used those names routinely for interior illustrations only after a couple years when he was more often "Willer" or "Ed Emsler" or "Ed Alexander". Evidently he debuted in May 1951 as Willer for the serial novel Mars Child (Outpost Mars) and Emsh for two other stories in the same issue.[1] For June and July (when the novel concluded) he did the covers as Emsh and Willer respectively. He was Willer as illustrator of the novel; Emsh and Ed Alexander for two other July stories.[2][1]
  2. ^ After inducting 36 fantasy and science fiction writers and editors from 1996 to 2004, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame dropped "fantasy" and made non-literary contributors eligible. Chesley Bonestell inaugurated the "Art" category in 2005 and Frank Kelly Freas followed in 2006.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Ed Emshwiller at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-10. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ "Ed Emshwiller, 65; Made Experimental Movies and Videos". Eleanor Blau. The New York Times. August 2, 1990.
  3. ^ "Ed Emshwiller biography". Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.. Archived 2012-07-22.
  4. ^ Video Data Bank
  5. ^ Alvy Ray Smith: Art.
  6. ^ CalArts Archived 2007-06-19 at the Wayback Machine..
  7. ^ The Comics Journal: Bill Griffith interview.
  8. ^ "Emshwiller, Ed" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine.. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Art Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  9. ^ ""Science Fiction Hall of Fame to Induct Ed Emshwiller, Gene Roddenberry, Ridley Scott and Gene Wolfe"". Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.. Press release March/April/May 2007. Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (empsfm.org). Archived 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  10. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived May 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved 2013-04-10. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.

External links

Media related to Ed Emshwiller at Wikimedia Commons

Again, Dangerous Visions

Again, Dangerous Visions (17 March 1972) is a science fiction short story anthology, edited by Harlan Ellison. It is the follow-up to Dangerous Visions (October 1967), also edited by Ellison. Cover art and interior illustrations are by Ed Emshwiller.

Like its predecessor, Again, Dangerous Visions, and many of the collected stories, have received awards recognition. "The Word for World is Forest", by Ursula K. Le Guin, won the 1973 Hugo for Best Novella. "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ won a 1972 Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Harlan Ellison was recognized with a special Hugo Award for anthologizing, his second special award, in 1972.Again, Dangerous Visions was released as a two-volume paperback edition by Signet in the United States, and by Pan in the United Kingdom. A sequel was planned, The Last Dangerous Visions, but was never published.

The first edition was a hardback limited release of 6,500 numbered and signed copies.

All About the Future

All About the Future is a 1953 anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Martin Greenberg. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Astounding SF, Galaxy Science Fiction and the Boston University Graduate Journal.

Carol Emshwiller

Carol Emshwiller (born April 12, 1921) is an American writer of avant garde short stories and science fiction who has won prizes ranging from the Nebula Award to the Philip K. Dick Award. Ursula K. Le Guin has called her "a major fabulist, a marvelous magical realist, one of the strongest, most complex, most consistently feminist voices in fiction." Among her novels are Carmen Dog and The Mount. She has also written two cowboy novels called Ledoyt and Leaping Man Hill. Her most recent novel, The Secret City, was published in April 2007.

She is the widow of artist and experimental filmmaker Ed Emshwiller. Their daughter Susan Emshwiller co-wrote the movie Pollock. Their son Peter Emshwiller is an actor, artist, screenwriter, and novelist. Their daughter Eve is a botanist and ethnobotanist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

City on the Moon

City on the Moon is a science fiction novel by Murray Leinster. It was released in 1958 by Ace Books under authority from Thomas Bouregy & Co using their Ace Double imprint reference number D-277. The novel details the events that unfold subsequent to an apparent sabotage attempt made against a lunar jeep on its return journey to the multinational civilian lunar city. This story was first published by Avalon Books in 1957. City on the Moon forms part of the To the Stars series by the same author, with two preceding books being Space Platform and Space Tug.

Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist

The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially known as the Science Fiction Achievement Award. The award has been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing". The Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist is given each year for artists of works related to science fiction or fantasy released in the previous calendar year.The Professional Artist award has been given annually under several names since 1955, with the exception of 1957. The inaugural 1953 Hugo awards recognized "Best Interior Illustrator" and "Best Cover Artist" categories, awarded to Virgil Finlay and a tie between Hannes Bok and Ed Emshwiller, respectively. The Best Professional Artist award was simply named "Best Artist" in 1955 and 1956, was not awarded in 1957, and was named "Outstanding Artist" in 1958, finally changing to its current name the following year. Beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for years 50, 75, or 100 years prior in which no awards were given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been awarded for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954, and in each case an award for professional artist was given.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. The works on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of works that can be nominated. The awards in 1955 and 1958 did not include any recognition of runner-up artists, but since 1959 all six candidates have been recorded. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held near Labor Day, and in a different city around the world each year.During the 69 nomination years, 79 artists have been nominated; 23 of these have won, including co-winners and Retro Hugos. Michael Whelan has received the most awards, with 13 wins out of 24 nominations. Frank Kelly Freas has 11 wins and 28 nominations, the most nominations of any artist. Other artists with large numbers of wins or nominations include Bob Eggleton with 8 wins out of 23 nominations, Virgil Finlay with 4 out of 13, Ed Emshwiller with 4 out of 9, and Don Maitz with 2 out of 17. David A. Cherry and Thomas Canty are tied for the most nominations without an award at 10 each.

Moon of Mutiny

Moon of Mutiny is a juvenile Science fiction novel by author Lester del Rey published in 1961 by Holt, Rinehart & Winston as the final part of the Jim Stanley Series (the first two books being Step to the Stars and Mission to the Moon). The story takes place mostly on the Moon following the adventures of the main character Fred Halpern after he is expelled from Goddard Space Academy for insubordination, and tries to find his way back into space.

It was probably most popular as a part of the Winston Juvenile Science Fiction set which included 36 books by such authors as Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, Poul Andersen, including five by del Rey. The dust jacket features an illustration by 5-time Hugo award winner Ed Emshwiller.

Plague Ship

Plague Ship is a science fiction novel by Andrew North (pseudonym of American writer Alice Mary Norton, also known as Andre Norton). It was published in 1956 by Gnome Press in an edition of 5,000 copies. The book is the second volume of the author's Solar Queen series.

Sargasso of Space

"The Sargasso of Space" is also the title of a 1931 sf novelette by Edmond HamiltonSargasso of Space is a science fiction novel by American writer Andre Norton, written under the alternate pseudonym "Andrew North". It was published in 1955 by Gnome Press in an edition of 4,000 copies.

Star King

Star King (also published as The Star King) is a science fiction novel by American writer Jack Vance, the first in his Demon Princes series. It tells the story of a young man, Kirth Gersen, who sets out to track down and revenge himself upon the first of the Demon Princes, the five arch-criminals who massacred or enslaved nearly all the inhabitants of his colony world when he was a child.

Star King was originally serialized in the December 1963 and February 1964 editions of Galaxy magazine, as The Star King. The antagonist of the book was originally known as Grendel the Monster, and was subsequently renamed Attel Malagate for the novel version. The magazine version featured striking cover and interior illustrations by Ed Emshwiller.

Though Vance won the 1963 short-story Hugo award for "The Dragon Masters", Star King did not win the award as is half-suggested by early cover designs.

Tales of Conan

Tales of Conan is a 1955 collection of four fantasy short stories by American writers Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp, featuring Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. The tales as originally written by Howard were adventure yarns mostly set in the Middle Ages; they were rewritten as Conan stories by de Camp, who also added the fantastic element. Three of the stories also appeared in the fantasy magazine Fantastic Universe, two of them before publication of the collection and the other one after. The book has also been translated into Japanese. The collection never saw publication in paperback; instead, its component stories were split up and distributed among other "Conan" collections. "The Flame Knife" was later also published as an independent paperback.

Chronologically, the four short stories collected as Tales of Conan represent an add-on to Gnome's Conan series, coming between stories published in the remaining volumes. The first "tale" would fall within the collection The Coming of Conan, the second between that volume and the collection Conan the Barbarian, the third within Conan the Barbarian, and the fourth between that volume and the collection The Sword of Conan.

The Builder (short story)

"The Builder" is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Amazing Stories, December, 1953-January 1954 with illustration by Ed Emshwiller. Dick had submitted many short stories to magazines and made approximately fifteen sales before becoming a client of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. This was his first SMLA submission, received by SMLA on July 23, 1952. His second SMLA submission was Meddler, received by SMLA on July 24, 1952. The SMLA file card for "The Builder" shows it was submitted to mainstream magazines The Atlantic Monthly and Harper's before it was submitted to Amazing Stories and has an SMLA sub-agent's notation, "IT ISN'T SCIENCE FICTION".

The Forgotten Planet

The Forgotten Planet is a science fiction novel by American writer Murray Leinster. It was released in 1954 by Gnome Press in an edition of 5,000 copies. The novel is a fix-up from three short stories, "The Mad Planet" and "The Red Dust", both of which had originally appeared in the magazine Argosy in 1920 and 1921, and "Nightmare Planet", which had been published in Science Fiction Plus in 1953.

The Glory That Was

The Glory That Was is a science fiction novel by American writer L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the science fiction magazine Startling Stories for April, 1952, and subsequently published in book form in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1960 and in paperback by Paperback Library in March 1971. It has since been reprinted in paperback by Ace Books in July 1979 and Baen Books in April 1992, and in trade paperback by Phoenix Pick in September 2014. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form; a second e-book edition was issued by Phoenix Pick in September 2014. The book has also been translated into Italian, German and Greek.

The book is a tour de force for de Camp, bringing together features of several of the types of fiction he specialized in, including his time travel stories, historical novels, and trademark "domestic science fiction", in which ordinary people encounter the extraordinary—though as it turns out no time travel is involved, it is not a historical novel, and the "ordinary" people live in the twenty-seventh century.

Two of de Camp's friends and colleagues, science fiction writers Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, with whom he had worked on military research during World War II, were involved in the book in different ways. It features a laudatory introduction by Heinlein and is dedicated to Asimov, whom de Camp stated "helped to push this one over the hump." Asimov recorded some vivid impressions of the author's research for the book in his own introduction to de Camp's short story collection The Continent Makers and Other Tales of the Viagens (1953).

The Outlaws of Mars

The Outlaws of Mars is a science fiction novel by Otis Adelbert Kline in the planetary romance subgenre pioneered by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was originally serialized in seven parts in the magazine Argosy beginning in November 1933. It was first published in book form in 1961 in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1961; the first paperback edition was issued by Ace Books in the same year. Later trade paperback editions were published by Pulpville Press in November 2007 and Paizo Publishing in May 2009.

The novel is a semi-sequel to Kline's earlier Swordsman of Mars, as the setting is the same and the two books have some characters in common.

The Planet Savers

The Planet Savers is a science fantasy novel by American writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, part of her Darkover series. It was first published in book form in English by Ace Books in 1962, dos-à-dos with Bradley's novel The Sword of Aldones. The story first appeared in the November 1958 issue of the magazine Amazing Stories. It subsequently appeared in a German translation in 1960 with additional chapters added that were not by the author.The Planet Savers takes place at least 152 years after the events described in Rediscovery.

The Simulacra

The Simulacra is a 1964 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. The novel portrays a future totalitarian society apparently dominated by a matriarch, Nicole Thibodeaux. It revolves around the themes of reality and illusionary beliefs, as do many of Dick's works. Additionally, it touches on Nazi ideology.

The Towers of Toron

The Towers of Toron is a 1964 science fantasy novel by Samuel R. Delany, and is the second novel in the "Fall of the Towers" trilogy. The novel was originally published as Ace Double F-261, together with The Lunar Eye by Robert Moore Williams.The stories of the Fall of the Towers trilogy were originally set in the same post-holocaust Earth as Delany's earlier The Jewels of Aptor; however, linking references were removed in later revised editions.

Wall of Serpents

Wall of Serpents is a collection of two fantasy short stories by American science fiction and fantasy authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the third volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazines Fantasy Fiction and Beyond Fantasy Fiction in the issues for June, 1953 and October, 1954. The collection was first published in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1960, with a new edition from Phantasia Press in 1978. The first paperback edition was published by Dell Books in 1979. A 1980 edition published by Sphere Books was retitled The Enchanter Compleated. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.The book has also been combined with the earlier books in the series in the omnibus edition The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and with the earlier books and later stories in the omnibus edition The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has also been published in Italian and German.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In the stories collected as Wall of Serpents, the authors' protagonist Harold Shea visits two such worlds, those of Finnish and Irish mythology.

Winston Science Fiction

Winston Science Fiction was a series of 37 American juvenile science fiction books published by the John C. Winston Company of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1960 and by its successor Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1960 and 1961. It included 35 novels by various writers, including many who became famous in the SF field, such as Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, and Lester del Rey. There was also one anthology, The Year After Tomorrow, edited by del Rey and others. There was one non-fiction book Rockets through Space: The Story of Man's Preparations to Explore the Universe by del Rey which details the factual science and technology of rocket flight. Many of the dust jackets became science fiction classics; the artists included Hugo Award winners Ed Emshwiller and Virgil Finlay along with Hugo nominees such as Mel Hunter and Alex Schomburg.

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