Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cover art

Much to the pleasure of publishers, I can't help but be drawn to a book by its cover art. Though I try to avoid buying brand new, unread books due solely to a doodle on the front, I find myself buying second-hand books this way. I often want to replace books I already own once I discover a different edition with superior cover art.

I'm particularly a fan of the trend of having a simple cover depicting one key element of the novel's plot - an element that's importance and relevance only becomes important once you've read the novel.

Below are four of my favourite covers from my sci-fi collection. Each depicts a key event or item in each novel; the comet shower; the Curious Yellow Vurt feather; a can of Ubik; a doorway to another world. All are incredibly slick, effortlessly cool and deeply powerful.
I often think about what I'd want on the cover of a book should I ever get published. A pipe dream sure, but the mind wanders. Yet the more I've discussed this topic with other sci-fi writers, the more I've decided that I think I'd rather have a classic trashy cover than a minimalistic one. A messy drawing of an astronaut in a jumpsuit standing in shock as an omnipresent alien towers over him. Partly it's a loyalty to the roots of sci-fi, as well as being more fun and reminding me of my childhood.

I have such vivid memories of trying to get into such books when I was about eight. I'd pick up a book because the cover depicted a jumpsuit-wearing man fighting off a pterodactyl on an alien planet as a gleaming spaceship roared to his rescue. But upon reading these books, I could never appreciate the story inside and would end up flicking through the text vehemently searching for the word 'pterodactyl' or 'spaceship.'

Below are some classic examples of such covers - covers I'd love should I ever get published. I welcome the trashy, sci-fi stigma that comes with these illustrations. It's a stigma that usually comes with sci-fi anyway.

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