A Tale of Two Covers: Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Outside the Gates Molly Gloss-small Outside the Gates Molly Gloss Saga-small

Molly Gloss has published only a handful of novels, but she’s accumulated an enviable number of awards and nominations, including the Ken Kesey Award and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award for the non-genre The Jump-Off Creek (also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award), and a James Tiptree, Jr. Award for SF novel Wild Life (2000). Her first novel Outside the Gates was published as a slender hardcover by Atheneum in 1986 (above left, cover by Michael Mariano), and Ursula K. Le Guin called it “The best first novel I’ve seen in years.” It has been out of print for over three decades, but Saga Press is finally rectifying that situation by reprinting it in January with a spare new cover by Jeffrey Alan Love (above right). Hard to say which one I like more; they’re both clear products of their time. Here’s the description.

Villagers were always warned that monsters live outside the gates, but when a young boy named Vren is cast out, he finds a home in the world beyond, in Whiting Award winner Molly Gloss’s classic fantasy novel.

Vren has always been told that the world beyond the gates of his village is one filled with monsters, giants, and other terrifying creatures. But when he confides with his family about his ability to talk to animals, he’s outcast to the very world he’s been taught to fear his whole life. He expects to die alone, lost and confused, but he finds something different altogether — refuge in a community of shadowed people with extraordinary powers.

Thirty years later, Molly Gloss’s dystopian fantasy novel is just as timely, poignant, and stirring as ever, in a brand-new edition!

This slender book is more a novella than a true novel; to sweeten the deal Saga is packaging it with Gloss’ 18-page story “Lambing Season,” which was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Outside the Gates was published by Atheneum in September 1986. It was 120 pages, priced at $11.95 in hardcover. It will be reprinted by Saga Press on January 1, 2019. It is 115 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition. See all our recent Tales of Two Covers here.


A Tale of Two Covers: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunday, April 29th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Akata Warrior-small Sunny and the Mysteries of Osis-small

Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most exciting novelists at work in the field of fantasy. She’s won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. She writes Black Panther comics for Marvel, and her World Fantasy Award-winning novel Who Fears Death is being developed by George R.R. Martin as an HBO series.

Her latest novel, Akata Warrior, was published by Viking Books for Young Readers last October (above left, cover by Greg Ruth). It was republished in the UK in March by Cassava Republic Press under the title Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi (above right, design by Anna Morrison). Both books (er, the single book) are (is?) the sequel to 2011’s Akata Witch.

Although the books are being sold to separate markets with different titles and different covers, I was struck at just how similar the cover images are. In fact, both use Greg Ruth’s core image of a woman with a black scarf (albeit flipped), and both make use of overt spider imagery, along with an overlay of curvy white Nsibidi symbols on her skin. Both also use the same quote by Neil Gaiman. Note the differences, however — the British cover has markedly different hair, and a completely different color tone. She’s looking in different directions as well.

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A Tale of Two Covers: More Human Than Human by Neil Clarke

Sunday, October 29th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

More Human Than Human Donato-small More Human Than Human Neil Clarke

Neil Clarke has produced some standout anthologies in the last few years, including Galactic Empires, two volumes of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and of course his annual Clarkesworld collections. His upcoming book More Human Than Human: Stories of Androids, Robots, and Manufactured Humanity, with original tales from Rachel Swirsky, Robert Reed, Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar, Alastair Reynolds, Ken Liu, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. Valente, Genevieve Valentine, Jeff VanderMeer, and many others, looks like one of his best.

I’m rather taken with the cover, as well. It’s by Donato Giancola, one of my favorite artists, who did the cover of Black Gate 15 for us. You can see the original artwork at left above, and how it appears on the cover of More Human Than Human, above right. Donato is a master of small details, and is marvelously skilled at integrating those details into a visually striking whole. His covers frequently tell a story, as this one does, although the key to the story is often hidden in the details… just as it is here.

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A Tale of Two Covers: The Race and The Rift by Nina Allan

Friday, June 30th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Last July Titan Books released Nina Allen’s debut novel The Race, which was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award and short-listed for both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second novel The Rift arrives from Titan next month, and I immediately assumed — based on the strikingly similar art, title font, and cover design — that it was a sequel.

Turns out looks are deceiving (maybe?) Nothing I can find points to any kind of connection between the two. The Race (which we covered here last year) is a loosely connected set of four stories set in a near future Britain ravaged by ecological collapse, and The Rift is about two sisters re-united after two decades, when one of them claims to have been abducted by aliens.

There’s nothing wrong with using similar cover designs for disconnected books. I suppose it’s more of a refection of the times, in which the default assumption for a second novel is automatically that it’s a sequel. Of course, if it turns out the two books are connected, then ignore everything I just said. In fact, here’s the description for The Rift. Make up your own mind.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Chasers of the Wind-hardcover-small Chasers of the Wind-small

Back in 2013 I bought a hardcover copy of Shadow Prowler, the opening volume in Alexey Pehov’s epic fantasy trilogy Chronicles of Siala. An international bestseller in his home country of Russia and across Europe, Pehov has been called “the Russian George R.R. Martin.” Two more volumes in translation followed, Shadow Chaser and Shadow Bllizard, both from Tor.

In June 2014 Tor released Chasers of the Wind in hardcover, with an action-filled cover by Kekai Kotaki (above left). Set in the same world as Pehov’s previous trilogy, the cover proudly proclaimed this was the first book of The Cycle of Wind and Sparks, a four-volume series that had already appeared in Russia and Germany.

Eleven months later, in May 2015, Tor reprinted the book in mass market paperback (above right). There were the usual small tweaks in design and font for the paperback edition. But the biggest change was a little more subtle — all mention of The Cycle of Wind and Sparks had been scrubbed. For fans of the series, this was like running into a close friend and noticing her engagement ring was missing. I’m not sure if Tor was unable to secure English language reprint rights, the sales on the first series didn’t meet expectations, or there was some other reason, but Tor never released the next three volumes. They remain unavailable in English.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Neal Asher’s Infinity Engine

Sunday, May 14th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Last year we talked about War Factory, the second novel in Neal Asher’s Transformation series. So I kept my eye out for the third volume, Infinity Engine, which arrived in hardcover in March.

Infinity Engine was simultaneously published in the US by Night Shade (above left; cover by Adam Burn) and in the UK by Tor (above right, cover by Steve Stone). Over at Worlds in Ink, KJ Mulder expresses his enthusiasm for the US version.

I’m a huge fan of Neal Asher’s work and the covers for his novels are always something special. The covers for Infinity Engine, the conclusion to the Transformation trilogy, [are] no exception. This time round the folks at Night Shade Books have pulled out all the stops for the US edition that simply blows their UK counterpart out of the water. The artwork by Adam Burn is absolutely stunning. I think he might have just dethroned Jon Sullivan as my favourite cover artist.

With all due respect to my South African colleague Mulder, I think he’s way off base here. The Adam Burn’s cover, with its cataclysmic energy and vibrant yellows, is certainly eye-catching. But if these two books were side by side in Barnes & Noble, it would be Steve Stone’s cover, depicting a starship plunging at full speed into the churning, cold blue maelstrom of deep space, that I would reach for.

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A Tale of Two Covers: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Loney UK-small The Loney-small

Andrew Michael Hurley self-published his first collection Cages and Other Stories (2006), and released his second, The Unusual Death of Julie Christie and Other Stories (2008) through tiny Lime Tree Press. However, those days are over. His debut novel Loney, released in the UK in trade paperback by John Murray last year (cover above left) won the Costa First Novel Award, was listed as a Best Book of the Year by the London Times and Daily Mail, ranked a Best Summer Book by Publishers Weekly, won Best Book of the Year in the British Book Industry Awards, and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

It was published in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt last May with a new cover (above right), and the buzz on this side of the pond was just as stellar. The New York Times Book Review said “The terrors of this novel feel timeless… There are abominations here, and miracles.” Jeff VanderMeer called it “Stunning,” and Stephen King said, “It’s not just good, it’s great. An amazing piece of fiction.”

Here’s the description.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

Monday, April 17th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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We covered the first three novels in Brian Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne right here last year. Skullsworn, the new standalone novel in the same world, features the adventures of a priestess-assassin for the God of Death. It will be published by Tor Books this week in both the US and the UK.

Although the US and UK editions have similar publishing dates, that’s pretty much all they have in common. The descriptions for each book are markedly different — and the covers are dramatically different. The US version by Richard Anderson (above left) has lush colors and and action scene, while the UK cover (above right), designed by Matthew Garrett, is heavily design-focused. In a guest post at Tor.com, Brian Staveley talks about the US cover.

This one hits all the right notes… it gives a feel for the city, but here Pyrre is in the shadows, close to the quotidian world of human affairs, but separate, unnoticed. She’s also motionless. Her knife is drawn, but the drama doesn’t come from the knife itself, or the imminent violence, but from what’s in her mind, from her struggle to understand her own motives and emotions, then to translate them into the life she wants to live. It’s not easy to fall in love, especially when you’re staying up late every night giving women and men to the god of death. That’s the book I’m trying to write… The final version of the cover is just perfect. The color, the claustrophobia of Dombang’s hot, narrow alleys, the fish-scale lanterns, Pyrre’s crouch, ready, predatory, but not yet committed — this cover captures everything I’d hoped about the book.

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A Tale of Two Covers: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, and The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Collapsing Empire-small The Corroding Empire-small

io9 is reporting that Amazon temporarily blocked sales of The Corroding Empire, the short story collection from pseudonymous “Johan Kalsi” that Castalia House created to troll John Scalzi’s new Tor release The Collapsing Empire.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi was released from Tor Books Tuesday, almost a year after it was first announced. Earlier this month, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) revealed on his blog that The Corroding Empire from Johan Kalsi was available for pre-order… and would be released one day before Scalzi’s book. Amazon temporarily made the book unavailable to buy, but it looks to have been restored for the time being… There’s a reason Beale made a cover that looks exactly like Scalzi’s, and it’s not to ride his coattails. This is all part of Beale’s longstanding feud (or obsession) with Scalzi, who hasn’t shied away from criticizing him in the past.

I assumed the Castalia House release was a parody of Scalzi’s new book, but that doesn’t appear to be the case — it’s a straight up collection of SF stories, packaged to look virtually identical to The Collapsing Empire. I’m not sure of the exact point, but Theo is obsessively tracking the comparative sales of the two books on his blog.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Richard Adams’ Watership Down

Sunday, March 19th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Watership-Down-Poster by Raid71-small Watership-Down-Poster by Raid71 blue-small

Richard Adams’ Watership Down is perhaps my favorite fantasy novel. It’s been reprinted countless times since it was first published in 1972, on the way to selling over 50 million copies worldwide. I’ve collected multiple editions over the years, since I’m a sucker for a good cover.

But I’ve never seen anything like the poster series for the novel created by Raid71, which I fell in love with immediately. These aren’t covers for the novel, but full size wall posters suitable — very suitable, in my opinion — for framing. Click the images above for bigger versions.

I learned about the posters from John Freeman’s British comics blog Down the Tubes last year. Here’s what he said at the time.

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