Wayne Barlowe's Expedition (currently out of print) lies somewhere between art book and novel, structured as the journal and paintings of the official artist on humanity's first interstellar mission. Barlowe's majestic paintings are accompanied by sketches and notes, describing the fantastic ecosystem of the planet Darwin IV.
A CGI Eosapiens from the TV special, which comes very close to Barlowe's original art work
Amazon just sent me an email - of course not actually mentioning Barlowe's original work - letting me know it would be on the Discovery Channel in the US over the weekend:
Mankind's greatest adventure is only decades away: In our century, unmanned space probes equipped with artificial intelligence will be sent to search for life on planets beyond our solar system. But what will happen when we find it? "I wonder if a UK broadcast is planned, or DVDs...
Alien Planet" takes viewers on a dramatic virtual mission of the future--a trip to a fictional planet known as Darwin IV--in a new Discovery Channel world premiere. Rooted in the latest scientific research from the NASA Origins Program, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Planet-Finder Mission and European Space Agency's Darwin Project, this special two-hour computer-animated program features some of the world's most renowned scientists, including Stephen W. Hawking, Michio Kaku and J. Craig Venter, plus "Star Wars" film-maker George Lucas, who discuss the possibilities of life outside our solar system and deconstruct the animals on Darwin IV, based on the laws of evolution and physics.
Yes, I know there's always bittorrent...
Update: Digiguide comes up trumps:
SCIENTIFIC DOCUMENTARY: Alien Planet
Channel: Discovery 551
Date: Tuesday 28th June 2005 Time: 21:00 to 23:00 Duration: 2 hours.
What happens if we find life outside Earth? Take a virtual mission to the future to a planet whose every detail has been conceived by top scientists.(Premiere)