While science fiction is a rich genre for both film and literature, the visual art it inspires—most frequently relegated to the covers of bad paperbacks—is very often astoundingly corny, regardless of how good the book it’s interpreting might actually be. Really good sci-fi art is really hard to come by, another reason why Simon Stålenhag is so singular; his post-invasion landscapes are dreamy, intense, and mysterious—completely devoid of the heavy-handed cheese one normally associates with paintings of robots and/or aliens taking over the earth.
Stålenhag has complied his work into two high-concept art books, Tales from the Loop and the sequel Things from the Flood, which comes out in November but is available for pre-order now. Ground Zero for Stålenhag’s dystopia is an alternative Sweden from his own ’80s and ’90s childhood, where experiments with a massive particle accelerator—“The Loop”—go terribly wrong. Despite the disaster, Stålenhag likes to focus on the quiet and the mundane countryside, now irrevocably altered by mysterious invaders. Still, there is an intimacy to his work, with special attention to the domestic lives, childhoods and romances of the people living in this chaotic new world.