Monday 30 November 2015

Chasm City sketches

A sort-out of an old box turned up a notebook containing sketches and thoughts toward what eventually became Chasm City, my second novel. The notes were written - to the best of my knowledge - in early 1999. By that point I had already completed one draft of the book, but much of the sleeper ship subplot - Sky, the grubs and so on - was absent from the first version. These sketches were done as I thought my way into the more complex story that eventually figured in the final book.

Cross-section through Chasm City

Canopy structure and cable-car

Grub starship

Grub ship interior cross-section

Flotilla sleeper ship


  1. I'd love to see more designs like these. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing these! Chasm City is still one of my favourite books though I finished Blue Remembered Earth this weekend and really loved it.

  3. I've just completed Chasm City and those are great illustrations for the novel! Many thanks.

    I imagined the sleeper ship to be a lot thinner when I was reading, btw.

  4. Awesome. I tend to make miniatures of what I'm writing about but have been known to sketch things too.

  5. Very interesting, especially comparing it with how I imagined it when I read Chasm City. I definitely wasn't picturing what you had in the sketches!


  6. I really love this sort of sketch! My kids can do this, but me...lolo
    Awesome stuff Al!l

  7. Mr. Reynolds, I honestly love it when you expand your own settings with these sketches. :-)

    A lot of what I see her is surprisingly close to how I've imagined already when I read your works for the first time a few years ago. Especially the generation ships from the Flotilla (rather Discovery-like, aren't they ?). I imagined the cablecar having a slightly fiercer design, but that illustration is still very close to what came to my mind when I read your descriptions of said vehicle in RS and CS.

    Also... The Grub ship is quite freaky looking ! 8-)

  8. Very nice designs.

    A pity Reynolds wont expand the series.

  9. I've never said I wouldn't...

  10. Wow, your descriptions were pretty good! I imagined the cable car being somewhat sleeker, but I also realise my mental image of the "car" included a bonnet where an internal combustion engine would go. Mental associations are hard to dump!

  11. Im just now finding this and I LOVE that you've shared sketches from your RS masterpiece! So yeah, thank you :) and I don't care if I sound like a kiss ass, I think you're absolutely brilliant!

  12. Hi Alastair

    I can see your talents are not limited to your writing. I imagined the mechanism of the cable car as you have illustrated it but in my head the vehicle's body was more like a Bedford Van.
    Pleased to see Beyond the Aquila Rift animated.