Steel and Bone - cyborg robot skeleton -- the stuff of nightmares by Duncan Long

Cyborgs, robots, and even some of the ideas in the transhuman/singularity sphere are full of terror for many of us. For starters, many modern robots (as well as that introduced in theĀ TerminatorĀ series) bear a terrifying resemblance to animated, steel skeletons — basically the stuff of nightmares.

Nor are these just horror or science fiction devices any more: There are folks actively developing these terrors over at DARPA and who knows where else. And many are being designed for use in warfare, adding another level of terry to the mix. Somewhere out there we know there may be a “Hunter / Killer” with our name on its chassis.

Little wonder then that these creatures are figuring in book cover art and magazine illustrations.

My illustration above, “Bone and Steel,” was created to reflect the aftermath that might result with the combination of a human being augmented and intertwined with robotic parts — sometime after death of the living parts of this symbiotic mix. The missing jaw adds to the horror (and that idea isn’t uniquely mine; I’ve seen it elsewhere and first noticed it with a cyborg charcter in the movie Fortress (1992)).

Sad - a cyborg illustration by Duncan Long

“Sad” was created this week upon learning of the death of a friend interested in cyberpunk and science fiction. It, too, reflects a certain horror brought by today’s experiments in robots. Is the face human (a gal in a tight-fitting suite), are we looking at a mechanical body with a human face, or is this a totally robotic creature with a simulated plastic face? It’s increasingly hard to know. Today’s robotics are starting to manifest as very lifelike automatons even as work is being done to fuse human elements with mechanical.

The lines are blurred, and with that blurring comes an element of fear.

Modification - transhuman movement of piercings, inserts, scarring, and tatoos by Duncan Long

Finally, my picture “Modifications” which reflects the push of the Transhuman movement to alter the human form with piercings, inserts, scarring, and tattoos. The results are surprising and — at times for many of us — terrifying ways as well.

Yes, it’s a brave new world, and today’s artwork for magazine and book covers reflects what’s going on.

Or hopefully will.

Because these three pictures don’t yet have homes on book or magazine covers.




When not turning his nightmares into his own private artwork and trying to peddle it on the net, Duncan Long works as an illustrator for small / indie presses and self-publishing authors. See more of his book cover artwork at Duncan Long’s Portfolio of Book and Magazine Art.