The Shadowrun role-playing game introduced a generation of gamers to urban fantasy and cyberpunk and has remained very popular ever since its release 1989. As a property and franchise, it has survived the death of several of its publishers and expanded into novels, video games and much more.
And who was the artist chosen to grace its premiere core rules and setting book? The masterful Larry Elmore, of course!
Elmore is most well-known for his iconic artwork made for TSR and their Dungeons & Dragons products issued from the early to mid-1980s. Leaving their employ in the late 80s, creating this cover for FASA is a departure from his more commonly seen fantasy artwork. Despite that, he captured the feel of the Shadowrun setting perfectly.
I love this cover, and I bought the book it adorned with my lawn-mowing money the year it was released. The future of 2050 it depicts seemed so far away at the time, and the characters so high-tech. But like most fiction set in the near-future, it’s more of a funhouse reflection of the present it was created in. I look at the clothing fashions now and say, “Yes, this was 1989.”
Shadowrun had a big influence on me as a teen. I loved the game, but the setting concepts it exposed me to also left an indelible mark on the fiction I’d be inspired to create thereafter. I never really got into the cyberpunk stuff, but the ideas of Urban Fantasy it introduced would stick as well as the general concept of combining genres.
Vivian’s Last Cigarette, the novel I’m editing for publication now that features an alternate history with orcs, dwarves, elves and more… isn’t set in 1989 by accident. It’s a tribute to when this book came out and filled a young teen with so many ideas. ;-)