The 2020 Back-End Escapist Fan Art Festival.

Looks like WordPress changed the rules: you can’t embiggen by clicking any more. You have to right-click and select “View Image” instead.

Stupid WordPress.

Time for the semiannual Gallery Update—that moment when, coddled by a comfy world devoid of trouble, you can dip into newly-uploaded visions of Wattsian dystopia for a bit of cold water in the face.

Doesn’t quite seem to cut it this year, does it? These days, dipping into the worlds of Blindsight and the Rifters trilogy seems less like a warning of things-to-come than a bit of nostalgic escapism. I mean, sure, Covid is a candy-ass wimp next to something like βehemoth; and while the White House is significantly closer than the Oort Cloud, the nonsapient alien that lives there at least offers more in the way of comic relief than the Scramblers ever did. But the monsters from my imagination don’t show up until the back half of the century; hell, Echopraxia goes so far as to postulate a functioning, high-tech global civilization persisting right up to century’s end. Take a look at that cheery little doomscroll running down the right sidebar and try telling me that’s not, once again, delusionally optimistic.

So escapism it is, then. And in keeping with that festive thought and these festive times, you’ll see a disproportionate number of this year’s new pieces tending towards bright, neon whimsy. You’ll see an homage to the Brady Bunch in amongst the usual grimdark, you’ll see excerpts from three, count ’em, three imaginary graphic novels. You’ll see Jukka Sarasti sharing center stage with a Maine Coon!

I’m highlighting eight pieces here, but that’s a small fraction of the total: by my count we’re looking at 44 new works of fan art (technically more than fifty, but I mooshed the separate panels of those graphic-novel extracts down from separate images to single contiguous murals). All but four reside in the Blindopraxia wing; three are over in Rifters, and the last is in Sunflowers. Since the last upload, three artists have grown prolific enough to warrant their own subsections; two of them, YamiEA (aka “Olga Marshmallow”) and SingingWhalebone apparently know each other. I can only assume they’ve been talking behind the scenes.

So have at it. Check out the new works. As usual, deep gooey thanks to all those who’ve been moved to illustrate my various invented hellscapes, and apologies to anyone who doesn’t want their stuff shown here (I’ll take it down if asked, but I’ll sulk while doing it). Immerse yourselves in some escapist fantasy art for a moment’s respite—but when you come back out, remember: 2020 was only prolog.

Happy holidays.

First Starfish cover— imaginary or otherwise— that actually singles out the central thematic visual metaphor of the whole book.
This is pretty dead-on, central-thematic-metaphor-wise, too.



This entry was posted on Sunday, December 27th, 2020 at 12:09 pm and is filed under art on ink. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

24 Responses to “The 2020 Back-End Escapist Fan Art Festival.”

  1. Graham Moore

    Peter, love your office but have an issue with your window bars – they should be on the inside so someone has to break the glass and deal with sharp shards as they work on unfastening/cutting the bars.
    The artwork is amazing! Thank you for collecting and sharing it with your fans and followers.

  2. Quotes

    Okay, so, hello from russian fan-community! I know both YamiEA and Singing Whalebone (also, the name is a shout-out to Dishohored games series, whalebone is kinda magical and literally sings in these games), and I also know one of the unknown artists.

    So, two works by unknown artist at the end of non-vampire section of Blindopraxia fanart are by @consulting_exorcist on twitter (and also you haven’t moved two of Singing Whalebone’s works from general section), and smiling Sarasti in the vampire section is, indeed, by Singing Whalebone.

    Thank you!

  3. Quotes

    Follow-up — though it’ll be funny if this comment will be posted first…
    Username of artist of two unknown non-vampire pieces is @cr3aturefeature on twitter, “consulting exorcist” is an account name.

  4. singingwhalebone

    Hey, Dr. Watts! Just stopping by to say a huge thank you for adding my works to your gallery aaand for highlighting it here. I’m honored.
    Also, yes — me and YamiEA know each other. In Russian section of Blindopraxian fandom everyone sort of knows everyone, so dont’be surprised — we’re just a bunch of crazy Slavs screaming into the dead coldness of space. Local hivemind, same single braincell and all.
    Thank you again and happy holidays!

  5. Rich

    2020 was only prolog.

    What a horrifying thought.

  6. H. Mann

    Such a great pleasure to see the gallery update consisting mainly of my (online) friends’ works.

    Yes, your fan community may be more tight-knitted than you think 🙂 We are scattered across the globe, but we interact and exchange ideas. It may not be the same as real interaction (okay, actually I don’t see any difference, just like Siri), but it gave me a lot of support throughout this turbulent year.

    Dear Peter, you mentioned under the Yami’s comic that it is incompatible with canon. Does it mean that you see Jukka Sarasti’s past differently? I’ve always assumed that at some point he was a prisoner… sorry, a guinea pig at some lab, just like Valerie. (To be honest, I’d give my right arm to get some details about Sarasti’s past, so any comments are very, very much appreciated.)

  7. H. Mann

    A follow-up since I got overexcited and posted my comment too early 🙂 Thank you very much for the gallery update and everything you have been doing. Happy holidays!

  8. asd

    I’ve also internalized that Echopraxia might be “delusionally optimistic”. Fuck…

  9. Peter Watts

    Graham Moore: Peter, love your office but have an issue with your window bars – they should be on the inside so someone has to break the glass and deal with sharp shards as they work on unfastening/cutting the bars.

    The office bars are on the inside— both to, as you say, force intruders to deal with broken glass, and to protect from the elements the wiring that electrifies those bars.

    Obviously you’ve been lurking around one of the several decoy residences we’ve scattered about the GTA for just this eventuality.

    Quotes: So, two works by unknown artist at the end of non-vampire section of Blindopraxia fanart are by @consulting_exorcist on twitter (and also you haven’t moved two of Singing Whalebone’s works from general section), and smiling Sarasti in the vampire section is, indeed, by Singing Whalebone.

    Thanks so much for the info. I have updated the gallery and credited the artists.

    Also, having tracked down consulting_exorcist/ein on Twitter, I discovered over thirty Blindsight-themed sketches I hadn’t seen before (since I’m not on Twitter). That definitely warrants a whole new meaty subsection dedicated to c_e’s work; I would be building it now if not for the fact that I’ve just spent several days building thumbnails and adding code to the gallery files and will probably put my fist through the wall if I have to look at another css.

    It’ll definitely happen with the next update, though. I especially like the Pacific Rim crossover. And the picture of Cunningham reading Dune.

    singingwhalebone: Also, yes — me and YamiEA know each other. In Russian section of Blindopraxian fandom everyone sort of knows everyone…

    Yeah, I already confessed to Ekaterina how dispiriting that was. There was a time I could imagine vast armies of fans spread across the planet, conjuring up hellish visions inspired by my writing. Now I find that you guys all know each other, and could all probably fit into the the same Uber ride.

    My ego dwindles with each new revelation.

    Rich:
    2020 was only prolog.

    What a horrifying thought.

    My work here is done.

    H. Mann: Yes, your fan community may be more tight-knitted than you think We are scattered across the globe, but we interact and exchange ideas. It may not be the same as real interaction (okay, actually I don’t see any difference, just like Siri), but it gave me a lot of support throughout this turbulent year.

    Okay, scattered across the globe. Wide distribution. I can get behind that. Maybe you wouldn’t all be able to fit into the same Uber ride after all.

    And I’m glad you found the community supportive. There’s something a bit ironic about people taking comfort from a community built around something that generally seems to inspire the exact opposite of comfort.

    you mentioned under the Yami’s comic that it is incompatible with canon. Does it mean that you see Jukka Sarasti’s past differently? I’ve always assumed that at some point he was a prisoner… sorry, a guinea pig at some lab, just like Valerie. (To be honest, I’d give my right arm to get some details about Sarasti’s past, so any comments are very, very much appreciated.)

    Oh, for sure Jukka grew up in a lab (I even wrote an obscure and not-especially-good story detailing life in such a facility, although it was the one that contained Valerie, not Jukka). The reason Yami’s piece isn’t canon is because it’s obviously taking place on Theseus; it’s explicitly the vampiric parallel to The Gang’s “hurt ’em ’til they talk” protocol designed to decipher Scrambler communication. It seems to be happening at the same time (at least, that’s the way I read the interpolation of the scrambler vs vampire panels). So there’s no way that could have happened on Earth, because no one on Earth knew about scramblers. And it couldn’t have happened on Theseus— not on my Theseus, anyway— because we know how Sarasti dies and this isn’t it. So it’s gotta be something parallel.

    Which is perfectly cool, far as I’m concerned. These graphic stubs capture the ambiance of the themes I was playing with; and I like the fact that the realities branch out.

  10. Quotes

    I mean, russian fan community is a hivemind (and we have a chat with a number of people who definetely wouldn’t be able to fit into single Uber).

    Peter Watts:
    Also, having tracked down consulting_exorcist/ein on Twitter, I discovered over thirty Blindsight-themed sketches I hadn’t seen before (since I’m not on Twitter).

    You might want to check SingingWhalebone’s twitter — and especially this thread.

    Peter Watts:
    The reason Yami’s piece isn’t canon is because it’s obviously taking place on Theseus

    It is not. The interpolation is meant to show the parallels between Sarasti’s past and his (and scramblers) present; in the end Sarasti doesn’t die, he loses consciousness. It is a flashback, not something that happens at the same time.

    And thank you so, so much for your answers!

  11. Rogue AI

    Another reader from a slavic country here! I believe the creating (mostly drawing) part of the fandom is scattered in the Web, especially within Twitter and some other rus social networks you, sir, might not be using.
    Also, judging by the memes arising in the community everybody lets the feeling of existential dread to sink in… then resolves to friendly chit-chatting and creating pieces. Coping mechanism what? Never heard of it.
    Thanks for your work and vision! It’s really inspiring.

  12. YamiEA

    Hello Mr Watts! Thank you again for putting my works here, I am already tell it, but I reapeat myself again: I am very honnored!

    Also I can assure you have an army of fans, but the Internet is a smaller than it looks and if someone actively creat any conntent – you can’t miss it! And actually it’s great, you know our artist fan comunity really have fun here 😀

    By the way I stopped here to may a small comment about my comic with Sarasti and Scramblers.

    As per my idea, Sarasti uses The Gang’s “hurt ’em ’til they talk” protocol on Theseus. And at this time he remembers that something similar happened to him in the laboratory. I wanted to play with the fact that for vampires there is no concept of the past, and therefore the pages with the Scramblers and the laboratory are mixed as if he lives trough this moments again. But apparently I was very carried away.

    P.S. I am kinda laugh on the comment about my my inclination to fiction stuff though it’s true. *looks on my art with merman Sarasti and Theseus as Pacific Rim jaeger and sweats nervously*

  13. YamiEA

    Damn! I am typing to slow, and I didn’t seen that Quotes already have explained everything before I refreshed the page…

    But as it already seems like the quarter of art part of fandom is here, I wanna share this animation by Ryuki-draws https://ryuki-draws.tumblr.com/post/634783643539292160/a-cruel-vampires-thesis-simple-animation-based because this crossover with Evangelion (an old cool anime) is take a special place in my heart!

  14. Tran Script

    Speaking of doomy things, I’ve noticed that besides the usual litter around where I live, the kebab boxes, candy-wrappers and cigarette butts are now also accompanied by a lot of surgical masks, many of them neatly folded, ready to be ingested by some animal or be carried by rain into sewers/the sea where they can slowly fragment into microplastics I guess.

    And I ended up googling “what to do about plastic pollution” and there’s a ton of websites describing what an individual can do to prevent it, including buying less disposable plastic.
    But what do you do when it’s not you, but everybody else?

    Even organizations like Greenpeace just keep railing against plastic corporations, but they’re not the ones doing the actual littering. The ones doing it are just regular fucking people.
    And speaking of Greenpeace, imagine what the world would have been like if every country had adopted nuclear power 30 years ago instead of continuing to burn coal.
    The solution is right in fucking front of us, but we don’t want to accept it because it doesn’t fit the popular narratives. Instead, we rail on about sustainably energy, and how it’s all going to be alright when the technology matures in a couple of years.
    But it’s never going to do that, and we don’t have a couple of years.
    How ironic is it that the very same organizations that fight for animal rights and the protection of ecosystems are also directly helping us speed into flooded/desertified hellscape of tomorrow?

    Nice drawings btw. I hope nobody reads me 5 AM rant. I’m think becoming fucking depressed.

  15. Roque AI

    Tran Script,

    I know that feel bro

  16. Peter Watts

    Quotes: It is not. The interpolation is meant to show the parallels between Sarasti’s past and his (and scramblers) present; in the end Sarasti doesn’t die, he loses consciousness. It is a flashback, not something that happens at the same time.

    YamiEA: As per my idea, Sarasti uses The Gang’s “hurt ’em ’til they talk” protocol on Theseus. And at this time he remembers that something similar happened to him in the laboratory.

    Ohhhhh. Okay then, that makes perfect sense. I hadn’t thought of that.

    Canon it is.

    Tran Script: Instead, we rail on about sustainably energy, and how it’s all going to be alright when the technology matures in a couple of years.

    I dunno, I was under the impression that renewables were already cheaper than conventional fossil once you remove the oil subsidies. As I understand it, the issues are more 1) the rate at which we replace the old with the new is way too slow, and 2) there’s that whole big honking backlog of carbon already in the atmosphere that has to be extracted, quite apart from new emissions.

    That said, I’ve always been of the opinion that nuclear is a perfectly acceptable stopgap to bridge the gap between fossil and renewable (I’ve never regarded it as a longterm solution on account of the whole nuclear-waste thing). At this point, though, the industry’s been moribund for so long that the I think the ship has sailed even on a stopgap role: they’d have to boot up new reactors from a standing start, and (judging my my own limited experience with the Darlington plant here in Ontario) it’d probably be faster to skip it entirely and put the resources into the burgeoning renewables field.

    Haven’t even thought about nukes for the longest time, though, so I’m way out of date. If there’s some new CAESAR reactor out there you can snap together with 3D-printed Lego, I’m all eyes.

  17. H. Mann

    Peter Watts: Oh, for sure Jukka grew up in a lab

    Oh… It makes me think, to what extent Jukka’s behaviour was related to his sociopathic vampire personality and to what extent – to the fact that he started his life as a lonely, abandoned child growing up in a lab environment.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Watts, for making this character even more intriguing for me.

  18. Tran Script

    Peter Watts: I dunno, I was under the impression that renewables were already cheaper than conventional fossil once you remove the oil subsidies.

    It’s my understanding that the main issue is that renewables are unreliable (hence why countries investing heavily in renewables still have to burn coal) and require huge areas devoted to them to get the same output, which poses another problem since you need a lot of raw materials as well for solar cells and wind mills etc. (hence the thing about the technology always being around the corner).
    Nuclear however, is already really well developed, and yeah the nuclear waste needs to be buried somewhere, but from what I understand it’s kind an overblown problem and a lot of the drawbacks of nuclear power are political in nature.

    Like, Denmark for example has the most wind energy per capita in the world, but France still has much lower CO2 emissions per capita thanks to their nuclear power plants.

    Also, even if the nuclear waste were actually genuinely fucking dangerous, who cares? The less tangible but not less real consequence of continuing to burn fossils at the same rate are much much worse.

  19. loqi

    Tran Script: and yeah the nuclear waste needs to be buried somewhere, but from what I understand it’s kind an overblown problem and a lot of the drawbacks of nuclear power are political in nature.

    An average energy consumer using 100% nuclear produces like a soda can’s worth of nuclear waste in their lifetime. I get that there may be some resident pessimists ’round these parts, but come on… solving this is child’s play compared to carbon sequestration. Dealing with nuclear waste merely requires the same baseline collective sanity that dealing with measles or polio requires given the existence of an effective vaccine.

    Oh, right, I see the problem now.

  20. Peter Watts

    Tran Script: Also, even if the nuclear waste were actually genuinely fucking dangerous, who cares? The less tangible but not less real consequence of continuing to burn fossils at the same rate are much much worse.

    Oh, no question. Even given the occasional meltdown or suitcase-bomb-in-Manhattan scenario, nukes beat out fossil. Still, maybe it’s the optimist in me, but at some point I’d like to see nukes being weighed against renewables rather than fossil (which is a pretty low bar).

    As for unreliability, I’ve read about some pretty promising developments in battery tech. Plus I’ve always had a certain nostalgic fondness for geothermal…

  21. Peter Watts
  22. joukahainen

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200504155154.htm

    This seems to be a promising direction for politically safe waste reprocessing. I’m skeptical of the long-term viability of many renewable technologies, as they necessarily must rely on always on some other form of production which can cover downtime. Hydro is very ecologically disruptive, and location dependent, but some of the oceanic energy production methods look like they might be less so (but I don’t know if any large-scale projects using those technologies). Microbial fuel cells have mainly been used in wastewater treatment facilities so far, but the simplicity and universality of the technology makes it very attractive to me. You can get constant power from a simple device composed of charcoal and and a bit of wire, with no other inputs. That’s environmentally friendly, carbon-sequestering energy production, anywhere with soil.

  23. Tran Script

    Peter Watts:
    Also this is a potentially hopeful development, nukewise…

    Interesting. I’d heard of this Company before but I thought they were purely focused on developing molten salt reactors.
    Also, I like how that article included a mandatory Greenpeace spokesman being against nuclear power. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  24. listedproxyname

    Peter Watts: Also this is a potentially hopeful development, nukewise…

    “By 2025” seems to be awfully optimistic, given that it took an order of decade to build and launch the first power station like that. Ship-wise, there is no problem, and floating power station is just lesser known common idea. Reactor, however, requires proper development and certification (especially safety-wise) that can be achieved by a generation of professionals rather than singular venture, so I suggest “2035” be more realistic, if ever.

    So, basically, RITM-200 is next-gen (3+ or 4) reactor Rosatom has already put on a newest icebreaker, plans to implement in modular design proposal. Is there any other similar reactor projects out there beyond conceptual designs, I have no idea.
    https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2021-01-rosatom-to-build-plant-running-on-small-modular-reactors-in-eastern-siberia

    And it turns out, they do wind power, too. At this point, I am utterly confused of their strategy as energy conglomerate.
    https://tass.com/economy/1243591