Tor Books have revealed the cover of the third book in John Scalzi’s ‘Interdependency’ series. It’s very nice: big bold text over gorgeous space-art. For reasons far too complex to recap, I have ended up being something of a student of the covers of these books and I’m kind of disappointed that there isn’t going to be a book four in this series because there are some definite trends in these covers.
The title text has got progressively bigger with each one and almost systematically so.
The ‘the’* has been wandering leftwards** as well, so that a hypothetical book four would have the ‘the’ falling off one side or perhaps appearing on the right hand side like your spaceship in a game of Asteroids.
I’m in two minds as to whether this is a really effective use of text elements on a cover or whether it is annoyingly obscuring the great artwork underneath. With the author name as another text element, there’s only a small window in which the artwork details can be glimpsed.
Is there method in commissioning amazing artwork and covering it in text? I don’t know the actual reasoning but the window the text creates in the bottom third quarter is enough to show the main focus of the picture. The text occludes the rest of the image but it is a kind of tease, a suggestion that more can be seen. You won’t literally see more of the picture inside the book but I can see how that teasing element encourages you to look inside.
Has Amazon taken down books from the far-right Castalia House publishing outfit aka Vox Day’s vanity publisher? Vox Day is claiming that they have:
“You may have noticed that you can’t find any Castalia House ebooks on Amazon right now. That’s because Amazon shut down our KDP account on the basis of a wildly spurious claim of publishing material to which we do not have the necessary rights. “
The work that seems to have caught Amazon’s attention is Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1) which Day published (and probably wrote) as a kind of spoiler for the release of John Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire (which I read here).
Checking Amazon right now, I can see a variety of Castalia House books being listed. I can also see the audio-book version of Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1) but not the ebook. It’s possible that Amazon had a more sweeping in its takedown of Castalia House earlier but we only have Day’s word for it and he’s not a reliable source.
Day is, of course, presenting this as some kind of authoritarian crackdown etc. etc. but the whole “joke” of his book was that it was meant to have a cover and title and author name intended to look like a more popular book. The rationale given was that it was a parody but the book itself isn’t a parody of John Scalzi’s book aside from its cover.
In short, the self-own keeps owning. A poorly thought-out attempt by Vox Day to strike another blow in his long-running “gamma” grievance against John Scalzi continues to disrupt his own business and its main source of income. A borderline case of deceptive marketing will continue to be a borderline case of deceptive marketing and will keep on biting him on his metaphorical bottom. The master strategist strikes again…
First a word of warning. The images take a while to load and might be even slower depending on your internet connection. However, that speeds up as your browser caches some of them.
The basic idea is this. There are seven layers of images which you can control. The images load as thumbnails (actually the full image is loading into your browser’s memory hence it being a bit slow). You then press a button and all the images you’ve picked get stacked together into an HTML Canvas. If you right click on the canvas then you can save the combined image to your computer.
Some layers are solid (with some 100% transparent bits) and some are semi-transparent and add effects. Every layer has the option of a 100% transparent image called blank.png which helps you dial back a bit when it all gets just too much.
The “randomise” button will set each layer to some random image.
Best way to use it: Hit “randomise” and then blank out a few layers.
1. background: This is the base of your image and is a solid image. The images are a mix of gradients, swrily nebulas and star fields.
2. back atmosphere: This is a semi-transparent layer and includes more swirly nebulas or extra stars.
3. distant features: This layers has planets and asteroids and other lurking background objects. There’s also giant space skulls and looming heads and other things.
4. mid atmosphere: Another layer of colours! This layer can help add depth to your image. This layer is a bit hit or miss. It’s great if you want to make a bakground planet look more distant but can make your image look a bit busy.
5. lower left object and 6. upper right object: These two layers contain similar images in a variety of positions. The layers contains things like space ships or foreground objects. Lots of trial and error are needed here. Best option is to either have one of the two layers blank or to have quite contrasting styles. Two big spaceships in both sections rarely works I’ve found.
7. front effects: Finally a few extra effects to add a bit of flare!
Can you use it for…Yes! Doesn’t matter what. I’m lazy and the laziest IP option is Public Domain because I’m not going to spend any time or effort policing how people use it. Your combination of images is your expression 🙂 Feel free to download individual elements sperately if you like.
Titles and other text elements I decided to avoid. You will need to add your own. The HTML Canvas object does have text functions but they are too fiddly to add in a way that are both flexible and easy to use.
Still fiddling with my new space opera cover generator. Over the web, the pictures take a long time to load but that’s unavoidable as I want hi-res output. Meanwhile, here’s a cover the randomiser function made this morning:
Last year my walrusfysing sci-fi cover maker was fun but I wanted to do something a bit better. I made the last one quickly using a tool called Hype, but I wanted to make something with leaner code that would let people make a big colourful space opera cover. In particular, I wanted the final image to be downloadable as an image file with enough resolution to use as a legitimate book cover
And I’ve done that! The code works and I’ve got a lot of images together (more still to do though. My main issue now is finding a home (the attic workshop can’t hold the number of image files needed).
When everything is ready I’ll announce it 🙂
Meanwhile, here is an example of what it can make. Each image has seven layers (some of which can be blank) and you can pick an image for each layer.
This is a famous textbook on logic but I didn’t know that when I bought it…
I found it on a shelf of withdrawn-from-lending books in a public library somewhere in Humberside (almost certainly the main public library in Hull but I’ve a vague memory it was somewhere more weird than that).
To be honest I just thought it looked cool with its green cover and minimal title.
It cost 25 pence and I bought it in 1989 it seems. The cut out page was done by the library when they removed the record of when it had been lent out.
This is my second favourite withdrawn library book that I own. It is also a really decent text book on logic.
I don’t own books that you could call coffee table books (also I prefer coffee in cups rather than tables) but this one has the glossiest paper and a cover that looks like it has been gift wrapped.
This is a book about Sangaku (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangaku) – a topic about which I knew nothing. Reading about it briefly for the first time, I had one of those ‘how did I not already know about this!’ moments. I also, coincidentally, had money to spend on books! So I bought this as a present to myself.
The concept is/was that geometry problems or solutions to problems as a temple offering. How delightful is that! It’s symbolic but also requires personal effort, so it has many aspects of a kind of ritual sacrifice or penance (to cast in Western religious terms) but also very meaningful in other ways.
The idea of mathematics as belonging primarily with the sciences and materialist domains is a relatively new one. Sangaku is just one example of how mathematics often intersects with spiritual aspect of human inquiry as well as aesthetic ones.