Bad Book Cover Fridays

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Not gonna lie, this one makes me smile at the same time that it makes me wince. Some things are so awesomely dated that you can’t help but love them.

Moonsinger's Friends - In Honor of Andre Norton, ed. Susan Schwartz

Rainbows. Stumpy-necked hippocampi. Mermaids riding stumpy-necked hippocampi while double rainbows explode from their backs. What could be better, or worse, or more likely to make you want to ingest something involving funfetti? Something to consider the next time you’re surveying (sadly rainbow-free) covers at the bookstore.

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BBCF: The Alphabet Mysteries
BBCF: Diamond Star
BBCF: The God Engines
BBCF: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16

For this week’s Bad Book Cover Friday, we have the covers of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series, a.k.a. the Kinsey Millhone novels. Kakaner referred me to these for the purposes of BBCF, and ever since then I can’t stop seeing them in used book sale piles everywhere.

Sue Grafton - C is for Corpse

Deeply mediocre, in a “we had no budget so we gave our cover designs to a 6th grader with Word Art pretensions” kind of way. Simplicity has its advantages in terms of recognizability, of course – as evidenced by my inability to not see these everywhere now – but. well. You could try to make it look a little less like you spent 5 minutes in Photoshop per cover doing these.

Also, on first look, the juxtaposition of the title and the cover blurb on the above cover made me think that “refreshing heroine” referred to the titular corpse. Did this happen to anyone else?

A couple more under the cut…

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For this week’s Bad Book Cover Friday, I present the cover of Catherine Asaro’s Diamond Star:

Catherine Asaro - Diamond Star

Yet again. Yes, the book is actually about rock stars in space (rather, a rock star in space). And it actually sounds like a very entertaining, cleverly conceived book, too. Unfortunately, when the cover artist was told “futuristic,” s/he seems to have settled on “the 80’s” as the nearest approximation. And so we are granted the bargain-bin equivalent of the love child of David Bowie and the vampire Lestat as our cover boy.

Let’s just hope that proximity to cosmic! star! light! won’t reduce his sperm count as much as those pants will, because then where would we be? Deprived of a new generation of starlets with mullets, that’s where.

– E

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BBCF: The God Engines
BBCF: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16
BBCF: The Gathering Storm

By request of Kakaner, the star of this week’s Bad Book Covers Friday (an hour and a bit late by my timezone; whoops) is the unreleased* version of the cover of John Scalzi‘s The God Engines, released by Subterranean Press:

John Scalzi - The God Engines
Missing the baby-fresh complexion, the rosy glow that once graced your youth? Just try stripping down to a loincloth, wrapping yourself in chains, and screaming as block letters loom over your forehead and you, too, can feel fresh and perky once more. Your pores won’t just open – they’ll scream for mercy. Side effects may include washboard abs, inhuman rage, and neckbeard.

From what I’ve gathered of the plot, this cover is actually a fairly accurate representation of what occurs in the book (I won’t go so far as to say “what the book is about”). So yes, one part of me rejoices in those cover artists who actually produce something remotely relevant to the contents of the books they illustrate. The rest of me is wishing that this one didn’t make something that looks like the dreams of a ninth-grade boy who just overdosed on Dragon Ball Z and Pepto-Bismol.

The best/only good part of this cover disaster is that Subterranean Press later released a very, very delicately worded admission that the cover was Not What They Were Expecting, and shortly thereafter presented a different cover illustration for the actual printing:

“Our previous cover to John Scalzi’s dark fantasy novella, The God Engines, didn’t quite convey the spirit of the tale, so we’ve had it redone by SubPress favorite Vincent Chong.”

“Didn’t quite convey the spirit of the tale,” you say… Ah well, blessings upon independent presses that a. have the taste and b. actually take the time to effect quality control. That is dedication.

Also, is it just me or has the running theme for all the BBCF’s so far been “stuff that’s screaming and/or thrusting fists in the air”?

* corrected from “first-edition;” thank you to the scarily fast John Scalzi for pointing this out.

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Stephen Jones’ Mammoth Book of Best New Horror is a wonderfully edited series of collections (I reviewed #16 here), but 1. the title blows and 2. the covers are, predictably, hit or very, very, very miss. The following cover fails both at having taste, and at being any kind of horrrifying other than the “I can’t believe somebody thought this was awesome; please buy me new retinas” kind.

Stephen Jones (ed.) - The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16

GRINCH BAT IS MADE OF LIME GUMMIS AND WANTS TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD.

– E

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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16, ed. Stephen Jones (2005) [E]

Friday again already? How time flies when you’re not sleeping regularly… but I wouldn’t know anything about that, not with my stupendous skills of time management.

Anyway, per Anda‘s request, here’s our second installment of Bad Book Cover Fridays – from Robert Jordan’s notoriously lengthy Wheel of Time saga, it’s the cover of the twelfth volume, The Gathering Storm:

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - The Gathering Storm“FUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUU STOOOOOOOOOORM”

Watch out – someone (we presume the storm) already ruined his house. Make fun of his skinny jeans and sausage-casing-like tunic and he might just punch you with his tiny fists.

Presumably we should all be stirred to action against willfully destructive storms – especially those gathering ones, they’re the worst – by his righteous indignation, but… nope, still can’t get over the t-rex arms.

– E

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Being the inaugural post of a feature that Kakaner and I have wanted to launch, oh, for about as long as we’ve wanted to have a book blog on which to launch it. Bad Book Cover Fridays! A weekly injection of terrible, calculated to help us crawl that last, gasping distance to the weekend. Most of our subject matter will be fantasy and sci-fi, given our typical reading patterns – and yes, it is almost depressingly easy to make fun of genre covers in general, but some are really asking for it – but of course we’ll probably end up dipping our toes in other suspiciously murky bodies of water, too.

And now for exhibit A, the original American cover of Robin Hobb’s Mad Ship (1998):

Robin Hobb - The Mad Ship

Would you like a little homoerotic with that rearing sea serpent and straining, tufty-chested figurehead? Oh wait, the person hanging off of his rigging is actually a woman. She seems to be a good hand with that phallic I mean boathook though – plunge it straight into the pink, fleshy folds between Nessie’s lips, that’s it.

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