The Creatures Of Farscape: Inside Jim Henson’s Creature Shop by Joe Nazzaro (book review).

June 26, 2020 | By | Reply More

You’d hate to see my bucket list of books I would like to read and some being doubtful that I would even see their dustcovers. Opportunity presented me with the 2004 release, ‘The Creatures Of Farscape: Inside Jim Henson’s Creature Shop’ by Joe Nazzaro. So, if you’re patient enough and look occasionally, you really don’t know what will turn up or at a price you can afford.

The Jim Henson Company wanted to out-do themselves with their animatronics in making some truly alien types for their then new series back at the turn of the century, ‘Space Chase’ that evolved into ‘Farscape’. Although I am familiar with their history, bought the magazine, etc, this book centres more on the character creation and many photos I definitely haven’t seen before.

In many respects, bearing in mind there is a new alien in every episode, we have what is essentially a bestiary catalogue as well as the problems of making prosthetics work in temperatures up to 40C. I wish they also had included more pictures of the stunt performers sans costume to show these brave or crazy souls who love this kind of work. It’s also interesting seeing some of the actors doing more than one part, like Melissa Jaffer as Nilaam who later became Noranti and four parts for Francesca Buller.

Even when I read ‘Farscape’ info when it was on the screen, I wish there was more explanation as to the massive turnover of crew every season. Was it because of other work drawing them away or burn-out. There is some mention later in the book but it seems physical exhaustion plays a part. It makes me wonder how Lou Eisley was allowed to work non-stop for two days on one character. Effects supervisor Dave Eisley ended up joining the story conferencing as they upped what they could try and both sides were continually challenging what they come do. Each character is ten days work from design to casting the actor/stunt person but in making moulds that is and getting everything ready for filming.

It’s a fabulous legacy of work and the Eisley’s portfolios must truly be amazing. I do wonder why there wasn’t a follow-up book looking at the ‘Farscape’ aliens that were solely make-up, especially as Chiana was featured on the back cover, just to show the comparison and complete the show’s design catalogue, more as most of the main cast are dependent on it. If you are a fan of the show and can lay your hands on this book, then its worth trying to get one and its publishers should certainly consider doing a second printing.

GF Willmetts

June 2020

(pub: Reynolds & Hearn, 2004. 136 page illustrated indexed hardback. Price: over £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90311-185-7)

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Category: Movie books

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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