Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"

Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"

There's an interesting discussion going on over at Media Bistro's Galleycat blog about when science fiction books should have dignified covers that look less pulpy and "skiffy." Case in point: Clifford Simak's The Way Station, which has had a host of lurid covers over the years (see left) and now has gotten reissued with a nice pastoral grasslands scene, which looks more like a Willa Cather novel. Click through to see the new, classier cover, plus a selection of the old pulpy covers.

Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"

Compare this "classy" version of The Way Station with these older covers:

Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"
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Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"
Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"
Illustration for article titled Newest Book Covers Don't "Scream Scifi"

Iain M. Banks' publisher, Orbit, says it's giving his Culture books covers that "don't scream scifi," in order to stand out from the rest of the pack. But sadly, the bottom line, says one reader, is that a cover should tell distributors and bookstore clerks where to shelve a book. [Media Bistro]

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DISCUSSION

composed a tasty rant about cover art but the comment was eaten. The Goat in the Machine? So lemme try again...

I completely agree with @Jeff-Minor: about the thoughtless stock photo n' clipart whip-ups we see on otherwise great books these days. What does it take for a publisher to pony up the dough for a decent illustration that is actually relevant to the story inside?

An aquaintance of mine in publishing has told me that some cover concepts get shot down by the buyer at Borders Books (!) who apparently only likes ultra skiffy scenes in that Harlequin Romance style of painting etc. Yeesh, might as well return to the "Tentacled BEM slavering over laser-toting space babe" covers of the 40s & 50s.

At least the days of "psychedelic" spirograph aemobas are long gone. total 1965 cheese—the Pan Books edition above is a tame example. Did anyone actually like these?

The new cover of "Way Station" does fit the general mood of the book. The story definitely doesn't "SCREAM". (Braak, you crack me up!) But would it hurt to have just a tad SpecFic injected into the scene? I'm imagining two tiny silhouettes on the porch of yonder cabin—Enoch and a tentacled BEM sippin' cider and watching the sunset...