Friday, 28 March 2014

What's better than All Yesterdays? More All Yesterdays, of course.

When I reviewed All Yesterdays last year I loved it, but felt I could use a second helping.  Well, guess what?  There's a second course available in the form of an equally wonderful sequel: All Your Yesterdays.  Truly, I am in speculative biology heaven right now.


All Your Yesterdays is a crowdsourced publication.  The authors of All Yesterdays invited submissions of speculative palaeoart from anyone who wanted to contribute, and C.M. Kosemen collated them into an ebook.  The results are truly excellent.


This painting by Brian Engh is one of my favourite pictures from All Your Yesterdays.  It depicts two young sauropods (diamantinasaurus) that have wandered into a cave looking for minerals to supplement their diet.  Of course, there's no evidence sauropods really did this, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility and it makes for a great picture.





Raven Amos' Ichthyovenator is another of my favourites.  I love the use of colour and line in this picture.





The book's cover features this beautiful painting of two baby troodonts by Alvaro Rozalen.  Troodonts were intelligent dinosaurs, and the smarter theropods probably took care of their young much as birds do today, so Rozalen has pictured these cute little guys sitting in a nest waiting for their parents to bring them some food.






One reason I love this book so much is that it goes against the trend of conservatism so common in palaeoart.  Obviously I realise that when artists create depictions of extinct animals they're usually trying to convey as realistic a picture as possible, and therefore they need to avoid being too fanciful.  Good scientific illustrations, after all, are well researched and conform to what we know about the animals' anatomy, appearance, and habitat.  But not all art needs to be realistic.  Personally, I like art that celebrates the weird and wonderful.


Another thing about this book that impresses me is the incredible generosity of the artists who contributed.  They weren't paid, they donated their work because they thought the project is fun.  All Your Yesterdays is sold here using a PayPal honesty box; you pay what you can afford.  As such, it's a good example of how the internet has enriched our lives.  Ten years ago neither you nor I would have got the opportunity to see these beautiful artworks.  Mainstream publishing houses are reluctant to pick up projects like this, which might be termed "niche market" books and don't generate large profits for the company.  Now that it's possible to make content available on the internet, artists can get their work out there without having to convince some corporate executive that it will look okay on the balance sheet.

If I could, I would buy a paper copy of All Your Yesterdays.  It's only available as an ebook, and the ebook format doesn't do the pictures justice.  But that's really the only criticism I have of the book, and it's certainly worth buying the ebook edition.  Thank you so much to everybody who helped to make All Your Yesterdays happen!  You've done a fantastic job.