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MacAulay, David

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) UK-born artist and author, in the US from 1958; much of his work, beginning with Cathedral: The Story of its Construction (1973), has concentrated on architectural subjects, a focus reflected in Unbuilding (graph 1980), which depicts in pictures and text the hypothetical demolition of the Empire State Building (see New York), and in The Way Things Work (graph 1988), where nonfantastic machines and artefacts are explained graphically by showing how woolly mammals might learn to use them. Of specific sf interest is Motel of the Mysteries (graph 1979), a comic Fabulation that cleverly gives graphic form to the estrangements enacted by the passage of time (see Perception; Ruins and Futurity), through the misinterpretations of a fifth-millennium amateur archaeologist who has discovered a motel buried long ago in 1985 after a spoof (but devastating) Disaster had sealed twentieth-century America off like Pompeii. To what had become a familiar model of Satire – examples of similar misreadings of a perished America can be found in J A Mitchell's The Last American (1889 chap; exp 1902) and Robert Nathan's The Weans (November 1956 Harper's Magazine as "Digging the Weans"; much exp 1960 chap) – Macaulay adds surreally literal illustrations that illuminate a different vision of the past: that of an America self-immolated in Kipple. Baaa (1985 chap) is a fantasy Satire in which sheep take over the world. [JC]

David Alexander MacAulay

born Burton-on-Trent, Lancashire: 2 December 1946

works (highly selected)

  • Motel of the Mysteries (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1979) [graph: hb/David Macaulay]
  • Unbuilding (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1980) [nonfiction: graph: hb/David Macaulay]
  • Baaa (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1985) [chap: graph: hb/David Macaulay]


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