[The above is a screenshot from the video by KhromAI.]

I’ve always loved looking at the covers of science fiction books and magazines where artists have visualized the stories. Recently, AI programs like Midjourney allow anyone with a knack for words and a visual imagination to illustrate a science fiction story. They are starting to show up on YouTube as videos. Here’s one that envisions the novel Dune but with the artistic style of H. R. Giger.

I highly recommend you also look at this on a large-screen television to see these images in their full glory. They are quite impressive.

I know there is a controversy about AI programs “stealing” artistic styles from human artists, but let’s not get into that now. I’m fascinated by the idea that an individual just using their imagination and language skills can create an illustrated science fiction novel or movie. What are the possibilities?

Already, YouTube is being flooded with videos like this one and it gives me ideas of what might happen. Again, let’s not get into copyrights and legal issues at the moment. But imagine taking your favorite science fiction story and illustrating it with AI software. Will this become a new art form? A new kind of fan fiction? Or will it be considered a new kind of communication? What will it mean when you can express your thoughts in words and pictures?

What are the limits on visualizing something in your mind and getting a computer program to paint it for you in pixels?

What if two people visualize the same story? Or ten? What if people start developing their own artistic style with words that convey how they imagine things? Here’s another example, also of Dune and also using Giger as inspiration. You can see it’s much like the other. AI/human artists need to branch out.

Sure, they should experiment will all the great artists, but also figure out how to create their own artistic styles. I’m sure that will emerge as a feature in AI programs.

And besides creating paintings and videos of existing stories why now use AI to visualize your own stories? This is where I see things getting exciting. With AI a person can be their own art book or video publisher. Or, writers who want to create old-fashion novels and short stories can use this technology to create visual mockups of what they want to paint in words.

Here is an original story created using Midjourney. Is this the future of science fiction writing?

Here’s an example of Midjourney using famous science fiction art from the past. This barely hints at the possibilities.

Here’s another example. But why are people focused on obvious inspirations? I’d love to see someone illustrate “The Moon Moth” by Jack Vance or “Fondly Fahrenheit” by Alfred Bester. Still, some of these images are quite striking. There’s no denying that AI art programs can create stunning pictures.

Of course, human artists will have to compete against machine minds. I’m hoping existing human artists, especially those already working with digital canvases, can use AI art programs to empower their artistic skills to compete with nonartists using AI programs.

James Wallace Harris 4/1/23

2 thoughts on “Visualizing Science Fiction

  1. I have always been attracted to sci-fi illustrations, from the retro, 1950s ones to the mind-blowing work of Giger, steampunk art, and everything in between. This new AI technology is just amazing, I might try it one day.


    1. I gave up on Midjourney for now. I was hoping I could easily generate SF art like I love from book and magazine covers, but it didn’t work out like I wanted. If I worked at it, and I do mean work, I might achieve that goal, but I don’t have time at the moment.


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