From the earliest days of sailing, life at sea was a risk. Skill and stout planks were no guarantee of survival. A man had to love his ship. He had to care for her, had to fuss over every detail so she could weather the harshest storms. If a man did not love his ship, if he didn’t pay attention to the creaks and sighs that warned of trouble, she might sink him.
Ships of old had figureheads—a tangible representation of the ship’s beauty, of her soul. Progress of technology, war, and commerce may have stripped away such non-essentials in the name of economic pragmatism. But the best ships have always been loved by their crews. And that love shows not only in the gleam of her decks. Sometimes, it shows in artwork that graces her hull.
The Colony ship Europa has been traveling for centuries. She is muted by burns and dust, is dented from minor collisions. The hull is patched with unpainted plates. Yet beneath it all the mural on her side is still visible, bright and alive like the spirits of the people inside.
We discussed artwork that might adorn such a ship. We considered the myth of Europa and the bull…how the maiden was deathly afraid, but that she was so in love, she simply could not stop herself from climbing atop the bull and letting him carry her away to a distant shore.
“The royal maiden, not knowing on whom she was sitting, was even so bold as
also to climb on the back of the bull. As the god very slowly
inched from the shore and the dry land he planted his spurious footprints
deep in the shallows. Thus swimming out farther, he carried his prey off
into the midst of the sea. Almost fainting with terror she glanced back,
as she was carried away, at the shore left behind. As she gripped one
horn in her right hand while clutching the back of the beast with the other,
meanwhile her fluttering draperies billowed behind on the sea breeze.”
It’s a romantic metaphor for space flight, we think.
Sara Richard captured the mood precisely, and when we saw the final draft we knew we had found the Europa’s soul. We’re proud to share it with you here:
Look for more of this on the cover of our upcoming release, Of Mortal Creatures.
Thank you all for your patience, and thank you again, Sara, for such beautiful work!