The novel The Celestial Steam Locomotive
by Michael Coney takes place in the year 143,624 Cyclic, at a time so far in the future that great civilizations have come and gone in multiple iterations, and humanity has evolved into 5 different races.
The story of the Martyrdom of Racoona 3 is a story of the ancient past. The year was 91,137 Cyclic and humanity was already beginning to suffer from the genetic disease called neoteny, which was making them shorter, with bodies and heads that were rounder and fatter, showing signs of the form into which they would eventually evolve: giant babies.
They were experimenting with genetic manipulation, and the scientist Mordecai N. Whirst found a way to blend human and animal genes to create the Specialists: humans with specific enhanced abilities because they were blended from animal stock.
Of course this raised the deepest prejudices in mankind. Questions arose about their rights, whether they should even be treated as humans at all. And when Racoona 3 was suspected of murdering the great singer La Rialta, it provided focus for all of the hatred that people could muster. There must be a trial!
And so Racoona 3 was put in trial for murder. The Data Chimp pounded away at the keyboard while Racoona 3 sat on the witness stand, being asked to testify. Behind the judge the great computer screen showed the swirling colors and simulated face of The Rainbow: the great Artificial Intelligence that would act as jury and record the judgment in human history.
The thing is Racoona 3 knew one small fact that could have saved her. But she didn't use it. She knew that the case could be dismissed, but that it would mean that the collective judgment of humanity thought of her as an animal, not a human: only a human can commit murder.
And so she stood trial, knowing that by being convicted
of murder, it would seal in the history books and the records for all time the inescapable legal
conclusion: the Specialists are humans, too.
It was all very ironic. The one secret that Racoona 3 knew, that nobody else suspected: La Rialta, herself, was part hippo.
This is one a series of graphite drawings that I am working on of scenes in this novel. Others include:
Graphite pencils (4H, HB, 2B, 6B) on standard sketchbook paper, with q-tips and tissue for smudging and smearing. I also did a lot of drawing with the eraser, to do highlights and white lines.
After scanning the image in, I did some digital manipulation, primarily on the screen of the Rainbow's image to add pixelation and distortion, to give it an extra "computerized" feel.
I deliberately wanted the style of this sketch to be rough and "artistic" as opposed to hyper-realistic. I'm very aware that about 99% of all "SCI FI" art is highly colorful, highly digital, and hyper-realistic. I am deliberately trying to explore the opposite direction with these sketches. Just because it's sci-fi doesn't mean it has to be like movie CGI. It can still be Traditional Art. It can still have a Classic Drawing feel.