Larry Elmore catches a lot of grief round these parts for his seminal role in establishing the look of Silver Age Dungeons & Dragons (not to mention Dragonlance) and I make no bones about that. Elmore's a very talented artist on a technical level and many of his pieces are quite evocative, but there's also a crisp sameness to much of his output that just doesn't sit well with me nowadays -- at least as far as fantasy goes.
I was recently looking over my collection of Gamma World materials and spent a lot of time poring over its 1983 second edition, which I consider its best presentation to date (heresy in some quarters, I know). I noticed that Elmore did all the interior art for this edition, something I suppose I always knew but to which I'd previously never given much thought. I was struck by just how good all the art is and, more precisely, how appropriate it is. I know there are some who favor a more Otusian fever dream interpretation of Gamma World, but I've long felt that the game demanded a solid grounding for its flights of fancy, lest it degenerate into utter lunacy (or parody). Elmore's "fantastic realism" provides such a solid grounding in my opinion.
And that's when it hit me. As strongly associated as Elmore is with fantasy, I actually think he's a far better artist of science fiction. His Star Frontiers cover, for example, is for many gamers of a certain age the iconic representation of the genre. Indeed, his work on that TSR RPG is almost uniformly excellent, the "crisp sameness" I described above being a virtue when illustrating a high tech setting, whereas (for me anyway) I find that the same quality grates in the context of (most) fantasy. Granted, I speak primarily of his black and white figural work rather than his color outdoors pieces, many of which are quite good for fantasy. Still, looking at Gamma World 2e today really did open my eyes to a possibility I hadn't considered before, namely that Larry Elmore makes a fine SF illustrator.