A Tale of Two Covers: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Gunslinger Girl 1-small Gunslinger Girl-small

Covers by Mark Owen/Trevillion Images (left) and uncredited

While I was at Windycon here in Chicago last week, I stopped by Larry Smith’s booth in the Dealer’s Room and ended up buying a small pile of books from Sally Kobee. Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely was an impulse buy, but a good one, I think. It’s part of the James Patterson Presents line, and was an Amazon and B&N Best Book of the Month, and an Indie Next pick. It’s also the tale of a female sharpshooter in a dystopian near-future West, and I like the sound of that. Here’s the description.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

My problem with the book is that I bought the trade paperback on the left, and when I was checking out the details online I discovered the mass market paperback edition on the right, with the gorgeously colorful cover. It was vividly different and inexpensive enough ($5.49) that I decided to get a copy of that one as well, this time as a gift for my daughter. I ordered it from Amazon… and promptly received a second copy of the book at left. Every edition Amazon lists online has the cover at right (including the audio, paperback and hardcover editions), but I don’t see any way to actually get one.

Well, I love a book challenge, and I’m not ready to give up yet. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Here’s the back cover of the trade edition.

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A Tale of Two Covers: Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan

Saturday, July 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan UK-small Sweet Dreams Tricia Sullivan Titan-small

Covers by Andrzej Kwolek (Gollancz, 2017) and Natasha Mackenzie (Titan, 2019)

Tricia Sullivan’s third novel Dreaming In Smoke won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her first, Lethe, was nominated for the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1995; her most recent was Occupy Me, which we discussed earlier this year. She writes cyberpunk, space opera, and near-future satire, and has been shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Tiptree Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Titan is reprinting her 2017 near-future thriller Sweet Dreams later this month, with a brand new cover designed by Natasha Mackenzie (above right). It’s quite a departure from the Gollancz (UK) cover by Andrzej Kwolek (above left), which has a strong YA dystopian vibe; the Mackenzie version seems more reminiscent to me of Inception-style cyber-thrills and conspiracies. Tough to say which one I prefer… here’s the description; let me know which one you think is more appropriate in the comments.

Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked in an exam — Charlie will step into your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. In London 2022 her skills are in demand, though they still only just pay the bills.

Hired by a celebrity whose nights are haunted by a masked figure who stalks her through a bewildering and sinister landscape, Charlie hopes her star is on the rise. Then her client sleepwalks straight off a tall building, and Charlie starts to realize that these horrors are not all just a dream…

Sweet Dreams will be published by Titan Books on July 23, 2019. It is 410 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital formats. Read the first 40 pages at Google Books, and check out our other Tales of Two Covers here.


A Tale of Two Covers: If This Goes On edited by Charles Nuetzel and Cat Rambo

Friday, May 24th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

If This Goes On Charles Nuetzel If This Goes On Cat Rambo-small

Art by Albert Nuetzell and Bernard Lee

If This Goes On seems like the perfect title for a science fiction anthology; I’m surprised it hasn’t been used more often. It was first used by Robert A. Heinlein for his 1940 famous novella, which became a key part of his massive science fiction Future History. The story won a Retro Hugo in 2016, but was renamed Revolt in 2100 for its publication as a novel in 1953. Charles Nuetzel co-opted the title 25 years after Heinlein used it for his first (and only) anthology, published in paperback in 1965, reprinting stories by Fredric Brown, Richard Matheson, A. E. van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Fritz Leiber, Forrest J. Ackerman, and others (above left).

My recent interest springs, of course, from Cat Rambo’s brand new anthology If This Goes On (above right), funded by a June 2018 $12,000 Kickstarter campaign and published in trade paperback by our friends at Parvus Press in March. It contains 30 brand new SF tales by some of the most exciting writers in the field today, including Andy Duncan, Nisi Shawl, Sarah Pinsker, Scott Edelman, Beth Dawkins, and many more. Subtitled The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, this ambitious anthology looks at what today’s politics and policies will do to shape our world a generation from now. Tales within include:

  • “Green Glass: A Love Story” by Lily Yu, Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee, and winner of the 2012 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, filters the future of now through a wholly relatable lens: relationships and marriage.
  • Hugo-winning editor Scott Edelman’s “The Stranded Time Traveler Embraces the Inevitable” expertly employs an age-old science fiction convention to tell a deeply human tale of love, loss, and desperate hope.
  • Streaming our everyday lives has become commonplace, but in “Making Happy” Zandra Renwick examines a very uncommon consequence of broadcasting your every experience.
  • Former Minnesota Viking and noted equal rights advocate Chris Kluwe’s “The Machine” deals with one of the most important and hotly contested questions of the day: what truly defines citizenship and American identity?
  • Nebula winner Sarah Pinsker’s “That Our Flag Was Still There” uses possibly the most powerful symbol in American iconography to create a frightening and darkly illuminating vision of freedom of speech.
  • NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Literary Work Steven Barnes offers up the consequences of integrating technology and surveillance into our daily lives with his detective story “The Last Adventure of Jack Laff: The Dayveil Gambit”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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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 Three Covers: Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin

Monday, May 7th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightflyers 1987-small Nightflyers 1989-small Nightflyers and Other Stories-small

George R.R. Martin may be the most popular genre writer on the planet. In terms of global book sales his only living rivals are J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.

So it’s not surprising that much of his back catalog is returning to print, including his 1985 short story collection NightflyersNightflyers contains six stories, including the Hugo-award winning novella “A Song for Lya,” but by far the most famous tale within is the title story, a science fiction/horror classic which won the Analog and Locus Awards in 1981, and was nominated for a Hugo for Best Novella.

Nightflyers was originally published by Bluejay in 1985, and reprinted in mass market paperback in February 1987 by Tor with a cover by James Warhola (above left). It was reprinted two years later with a new cover to tie-in with the 1987 movie version (above middle; cover artist unknown). The new edition, with a vibrantly colorful cover from an uncredited artist (above right), is the first over over three decades. It will be published by Tor at the end of the month, in advance of the new series debuting on Syfy later this year.

“Nightflyers” was one of the first major adventures set in Martin’s “Thousand Worlds” universe, home to much of his early short fiction. Here’s my synopsis from my 2012 Vintage Treasures article.

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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 Three Covers: The Mammoth Book of Dracula / In the Footsteps of Dracula, edited by Stephen Jones

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Mammoth Book of Dracula 1977-small The Mamoth Book of Dracula-small In the Footsteps of Dracula-small

One of the most interesting books I received in the mail the last few months was In the Footsteps of Dracula: Tales of the Un-dead Count, edited by Stephen Jones, a fat 679-page hardcover from Pegasus Books that contains 33 stories and a poem, all building on the legend of Dracula, whom Stephen King calls “still literature’s greatest villain.” It’s a true feast for vampire lovers of all kinds, with stories by Thomas Ligotti, Manly Wade Wellman, Ramsey Campbell, Paul J. McAuley, Charlaine Harris, Brian Stableford, Michael Marshall Smith, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Basil Copper, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many others.

As I was researching the book for this article, I discovered a brief Facebook post from Stephen Jones that noted that it was a “revised and updated edition of [an] older Mammoth book,” The Mammoth Book of Dracula, originally published in the UK by Robinson in 1997 with a cover by Paul Aston (above left). The book appeared in a revised edition in 2011 with a more modern cover (above middle, uncredited) and containing one additional story, the Sookie Stackhouse tale “Dracula Night.” The new hardcover edition (above right, cover by Derek Thornton) adds a new title, an “About the Editor” page, and Acknowledgement and Credits, but otherwise looks identical to the 2011 edition. It arrived in bookstores on October 3.

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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

The Race Nina Allen-small The Rift Nina Allen-small

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 Three Covers: Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Only the Dead Know Brooklyn Chris Vola-small Only the Dead Know Brooklyn Thomas Boyle-small Only the Dead Know Brooklyn Thomas Wolfe-small

Chris Vola is the author of two previous novels, Monkeytown (2012) and the self-published E for Ether. His first mainstream release is the horror/thriller Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, published last month by Thomas Dunne Books.

If the title sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because you’re remembering the crime novel by Thomas Boyle (Cold Stove League, Post Mortem Effects) about the kidnapping of Whitman scholar Fletcher Carruthers III. It was published in hardcover by David R Godine in 1985, and reprinted in paperback by Penguin in 1986.

Or perhaps you’re thinking of the famous short story by Thomas Wolfe (which you can read here), about four guys on a subway platform in a heated discussion on how to get to Bensonhurst, narrated in a thick Brooklyn dialect. It was originally published in the June 15, 1935 New Yorker magazine, and collected in paperback by Signet in 1952 under the same title, with a spectacular cover by Ruth Nappi. To this day, readers are still debating what the story is about.

Whatever the case, you have to admit it’s a killer title, and I can’t blame Vola one bit for poaching it. Here’s the description of his novel.

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