Miller, Ron

Tagged: Art | Author | Editor

(1947-    ) American artist, editor and author, best known for his work in the field of space art. He received a BFA in illustration from the Columbus College of Art and Design, initially worked in commercial art, and then became the art director for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Albert Einstein Planetarium, which gave him some early experience in astronomical art and brought him into contact with NASA, an agency he would continue to work with after leaving the Smithsonian in 1977. He had also begun doing some sf art with covers for a few magazines and Small Press books; these often foregrounded human figures, in contrast with the later style he is associated with, and are usually unremarkable, although he provided Richard A Lupoff's Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian Vision (1976) with an effectively subdued image of John Carter and Dejah Thoris kneeling in front of a multicoloured Mars. More typical was his cover for the June 1978 cover of Analog, showing an upside-down astronaut floating near two large spacecraft.

Although Miller continued to paint sf book covers, he began focusing more of his energies on writing and editing books, including three about space art – Worlds Beyond: The Art of Chesley Bonestell (coll 1983), The Art of Chesley Bonestell (coll 2001), both with Frederick C Durant III, the second of which won a Hugo award; plus The Art of Space: The History of Space Art, from the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era (graph 2014) – and two on astronomical subjects. He simultaneously branched out into other projects, including contributions to IAAA (the International Association of Astronomical Artists) workshops and a 1991 series of United States Postal Service stamps commemorating the space programme. He also became active as an illustrator for films, contributing to Carl Sagan's Cosmos television series (1980) and major films like Dune (1984) and Total Recall (1990). A secondary career as an author flourished with the Bronwyn Fantasy trilogy (1991-1992), adding a fourth volume in 2002; this is an entertaining saga of a female warrior in a realm featuring both Magic and embryonic Technology. He also wrote an updated version of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1506), Bradamant: The Iron Tempest (2000). Keeping track of his various activities in recent years can be challenging, but among other things he has served as the art director of a small press, Timberwolf Press; written and illustrated a comic book, Velda: Girl Detective (2003); and has authored numerous books about space and science for juvenile readers.

One must admire Miller for his enormous energy and variegated talents, but it is strangely difficult to admire his artwork: his renderings of outer space and Spaceships are always competent but rarely stunning, and his ventures outside that speciality are uneven at best. He did earn a Chesley Award nomination for his cover for the February 2002 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, an enjoyable rendering of an enormous fish emerging out of the ocean, but his planetary landscapes for the covers of Allen Steele's Coyote novels are generally dull, and his apparent efforts to light-heartedly evoke the extravagant style of Pulp illustration for 2004 republications of David A Kyle's three Lensman novels are frankly embarrassing. One might conclude, then, that he has both contributed much, and contributed little, to the genre, though his many more recent covers for Baen Books are uniformly competent. [GW]

see also: Frank R Paul Award.

Ron Miller

born Minneapolis, Minnesota: 8 May 1947

died

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Bronwyn

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graphic works

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