Covers too (WasRE: titles...)

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Tue Aug 3 13:02:33 EDT 1999

Two big messages, both of which need replies ...


>>Helen confessed:
>>"I have the same thing but for the cover picture.  Some pictures just make me
>>squirm and I have to pick a book up and try to decide if it is worth reading
>>despite the covers lack of appeal."
>>"Other covers just draw the eye and my hand is reaching out to the book
>>before I realise what I'm doing.  For instance, Robin McInley's The Blue
>>Sword had such a compelling cover of a girl on a horse with a sword (and I'm
>>a sucker for those) that I just had to buy it."
> You aren't alone Helen  :)  I also *do* tend to judge a book by its
> cover and sometimes the cover just has to be overcome.  And sometimes I
> like the cover better than the book - I think of those Patricia Keneally
> Morrison Celts-In-Space books.  Gorgeous covers but the actual books
> turned out to not be my mug of java.  Still, I often pluck them from the
> bookstore shelf before I realize that I have no interest in the
> contents.

Not seen those, but yes, I have that problem...

> Tepid title and yick-covers can hinder but they won't stop, though.
> Sometimes I get very finicky over the cover illustrations to dwj books,
> but I know I'll be thrilled with the contents.  With dwj covers I often
> feel like the illustration doesn't match my idea of the story - and yet
> they are always accurate insofar as they depict characters and events
> from the story.  I think I might prefer it if they showed a scene but no

Don't you believe it.  My particular pet hate is the Teens edition of Dogsbody.
Ugh ugh ugh.  (Dog of quite the wrong breed and colouring against background of
stars.)  But the first edition had an excellent cover, by an illustrator who had
read the book (or at least a good spec for the cover).

> characters on the cover - so there would be no dissonance with the
> pictures in my mind.  Not sure though.  I thought the cover
> illustrations to the new editions of Lives of Christopher Chant (and the
> little Chrestomanci portrait they have on all the Chrestomanci books)
> was really good - a really good flavorful Chrestomanci.  Unmistakably
> Chrestomanci and none other.   It's just not the same person I had in
> mind, exactly.

I've not seen those.  Some of the later editions of Power of Three do the same -
unmistakably the charactors, but not my image of them.  Again the first edition
had an excellent cover - smoky almost-human shapes rising from the moor.

> But that's all looking the gift horse in the mouth. I'd seek them, buy
> them and read them over and over even if the covers and titles were
> repellant.  At least I know that if dwj had a book called Unicornia the
> Horse Girl, with rainbows and shimmery sad-eyed sylphs on the front of
> it, it would be a really amusing book.

ROFL!  I saw a copy of Acorna the weekend before last on the secondhand stall at
the local market.  Yes, I got all the same messages as people on this list are
getting.  No, I didn't buy it...

> On the other hand, I really love the cover to my copy of Archer's Goon,
> showing the Goon hugely sitting in a chair having a snack and smirking
> toward the unsuspecting potential reader.  That's a *great* cover which
> does seem to capture the flavor that I get from the story.

Sounds fun.  My copy (paperback) rather unusually has the same picture as (I
think) the first edition - huge caricatures of Torquil, Dillian, Erskine (from
memory - or was Shine in there) bending over tiny house with scared occupants...

> And I'd rather see all dwj tales interpreted in all media than not!

Hear, hear.  I've never seen the TV adaptation of Goon, though.  The idea of
using Ferrybridge Power Station to film the scene of "a futuristic factory" (to
quote the PowerGen staff newsletter.  Was this Archer's place?) caused some
double takes, so perhaps I ought to see what they really did to it...

> But what of thinking of books where everything was consistent and
> pleasing - story and title and cover?

Eight Days of Luke - the first edition with the brick walls and snakes in
strange perspective on the cover.  My favourite DWJ cover ever, excellent book,
and pretty good title.

Power of Three and Dogsbody (again first editions) are pretty good too, on all
three counts

To break the DWJ monopoly, I would also add "Antarctica" by Kim Stanley
Robinson, which I have just read, and which also did pretty well on all three.

I'd also recommend "When the Lights Go Out" by Tanith Lee - with a cover onto
which someone has tried to cram as much of the story as possible, and done very
well; a lovely ambiguous title; and (to my mind) TL's best book for years.


[Elise quoted as above - snipped]

> I did know this name.  Now I can't remember.  I don't think I have any books
> with his covers...don't like Celts-in-space, don't have Kushner's
> _Swordspoint_ or _Thomas the Rhymer_...but I remember that his name always
> conjures up images of Celtic fantasy, for some reason.  In fact, I'd
> nominate his cover art as an example of tying text and cover together
> closely, because as I think about it, almost all the stuff he's done has
> been of those Celtic high fantasy things.  He does a lot of Diana Paxson's
> books too.

More titles I haven't met.  On this line, though, who did the cover for C J
Cherryh's "Cuckoo's Egg" - I remember it was one of the few books I've seen
where the illustrator gets any billing at all, and I can't remember his name.  I
have lent my copy to my brother...  (BTW another book with good title, cover and

>>On the other hand, I really love the cover to my copy of Archer's Goon,
>>showing the Goon hugely sitting in a chair having a snack and smirking
>>toward the unsuspecting potential reader.  That's a *great* cover which
>>does seem to capture the flavor that I get from the story.
> That's the copy I have.  However, the first one I ever saw was a hardcover
> edition which had a huge hulking man holding hands with a small boy--I think
> they were either silhouettes or facing away from the viewer.  But based on
> that cover, I didn't pick up _Archer's Goon_ for years!  I assumed VERY
> wrongly what the story was about, based on that picture.

Always a mistake to avoid DWJ.  But I must admit that cover does sound

[more snippage]

> I get very attached to books the way they were when I read them the first
> time.  Like the hardcover editions of the Menolly books, which as I recall
> are very plain and stylized...but for me, that's what I remember.  Or the

I don't recall them.  I recall a series of (PB) covers for McCaffery's Dragon
books that all had - I don't know how to describe this - really inventive though
quite finnicky pictures of dragons.  The key feature of most of the dragons was
streamery bits flowing back from every available bit of head or wing.  In
retrospect, a bit silly, but I love dragons and it was those pictures that kept
me going with the series.

> Riddlemaster trilogy--VERY dear to my heart--with the cover art that looks
> like impressionistic oils.  It's not that they're objectively nice, but that
> I have strong associations with them.

I suspect that the covers of my Riddle Master trilogy are the same as yours.
Yes, good covers, though I couldn't quite make the shape of the vesta horns fit
the text.  I do remember a frontispiece - obviously a different illustrator -
giving Raederle a body about six sizes too big for her head, though...

Finally, another DWJ cover worthy of mention, if you can find it - Spellcoats,
first edition.  A very well executed painting of Tanaqui with a spellcoat in her
arms, against a background of (IIRC) the waterfall at the resurgence of the
Aden.  My only complaint is that the spellcoat was covered in Egyptian


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