The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense


A cross-over hit from Baroco Ferison.

Cursed by a publishing house’s art-director, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense is burdened by a cover so abstract and so lacking in visual clues that nobody will ever read it. Forever spurned by book-sellers, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense languishes on forgotten shelves. It is placed frequently in a strange no-place between fiction and non-fiction.

Online, its plethora of busy but meaningless detail is obscured by low-resolution thumbnail versions, which leave it looking like a murky mess of nothing.

Forgotten and unread, The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense knows that it must go on a quest to find the evil art-director and break the curse laid upon it. But first, it must gather together all its material instances so that it can assume its ultimate Platonic form. Also, it needs to grow some tiny legs and arms to fight some goblins.

Also, why does it have a chapter about Edmund Hurrsel? This and other questions would be answered in The book nobody would read because the cover made no sense if anybody read it – which they won’t because the cover makes no sense.

Best SFF Award Nominee Book Cover Award 2016: longlist

[UPDATE: oops left off the Nebula nominees] And you can participate! Yes you! No, not you – the person behind you. That’s it, you!

Last year I ranked the Hugo best novels by book covers. I am going to do the same this year but I’ll extend the field to include the Nebulas, Clarkes and whattheheck The Dragons (winners only – too many nominees). So not quite the Felapton Towers award for best SFF book cover because that is wayyyy to big a field but instead the Felapton Towers award for best SFF book cover for books that got nominated for an award.

PLUS: BONUS AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION! Regular readers (yes, even Phantom) please suggest one other book not on the initial list!

The longlist (‘x2’ means the book has at least two distinct cover designs in play):

  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton) x2
  • Europe at Midnight – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • The Book of Phoenix – Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Arcadia – Iain Pears (Faber & Faber)
  • Way Down Dark – J.P. Smythe (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Children of Time – Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
  • Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia (Baen)
  • The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett (Penguin) x2
  • Hell’s Foundations Quiver by David Weber (Tor)
  • League of Dragons by Naomi Novak (Del Rey)
  • Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole (Amazon)
  • Souldancer by Brian Niemeier (Amazon)
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey) x2
  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
  • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
  • Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
  • Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
  • Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

Rules: I’m going to make up some criteria in the next post!

Winner will receive a signed jpeg of Timothy.

Annoucement: There WILL be walrus

After protracted negotiations, tears, lawyers and a tin of salmon, the corporate governing board of Felapton Towers have agreed a new contract with Timothy the Talking Cat. The contract stipulates that publication of There Will Be Walrus First Volume Five be expedited to publication ASAP.

This exciting (?) volume of stories, eprints and essays collated by Timothy will be published via a reputable ebook dealer for the low, low price of zero dollars. Timothy has calculated this price point using supply-side economics and his interpretation of the work or Von Mises.

I can reveal the contents and cover as follows:

  • First Foreword: By Camestros Felapton
  • Second Foreword: by Timothy the Talking Cat
  • Third Foreword by Anonymous Famous Science Fiction Writer
  • Fourth Foreword by AlphaPopulusBlog – The Voice of Manly Dialectic
  • Fifth Foreword by Camestros Felapton
  • Clean Up on Gamma-6-Gamma
  • Behold the Valiants
  • The Second Fifth Generation of Warfare
  • If You Were Yet Another Pastiche of ‘If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love’, My Love
  • Great Battles in History: Thermopylae
  • Squirrel Attack Survival Guide
  • The Mark III Desquirrelator 17
  • The Dead Tell No Secrets of the Dead
  • Riding the Red Walrus: The Core Axioms of Warfare
  • Mutant in Space!
  • Self Publishing Advice for the Inspired Indie: PRICING!
  • Great Battles in History: Timothy versus some squirrels
  • The Parliament of Cheese and Curds
  • The Expense: Walrus Games
  • Iron Chamber of Walrus
  • What You Have Missed: Previous Volumes of There Will Be Walrus
  • There Will Be Walrus First Volume V FAQ

Contributors include: Timothy TTC, Straw Puppy, Mr Atomic, Chilsed McEdifice, Vax Doy, Flight Rear Admiral General Fortescue-Billinghman USMT, HTTP, MD Retd.

Further details will be available closer to the release date.


More book covers:

The Academy of British Cover Design (which apparently is a thing) announced their book covers of the year winners

Shortlist and winners are here:

There is a special SF/F category but also some genre covers in other categories.

The winning SF/F design by Ben Summers is cleverly minimalist:


Of the non-genre covers, I found this one very attractive:


Kitschies Cover Art Finalists

The Kitschies are an award for the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining science fiction and they have an award for Best Cover Art. I really do like the idea of specifically cover art as an award category because of its importance to the genre and because it is just a fun category to look at.

Here are the nominees and my comments

The Vorrh, by Brian Catling, design by Pablo Declan (Coronet)


One of my favorite covers of 2015. While I don’t think I’d nominate the book for a Hugo, I’d nominate that cover if there was a best cover art category. I think it also illustrates why ‘best cover art’ is different from ‘best professional artist’. The actual artwork is not technically clever or stunning but it really suits the book.

It also has that hard to describe quality that makes me want to look further into the book



Monsters, by Emerald Fennell, art direction by Jet Purdie, illustration by Patrick Leger (Hot Key Books)


A style that echoes retro British visit-the-seaside rail posters. Beautifully balanced with the sinister (or are they just shocked?) children staring out, partially obscured by the seagulls. In the shadowed foreground at the bottom of the page a corpse…

Great design and a clever illustration. Again, not an obvious example of genre art.




The Honours, by Tim Clare, design and illustration by Peter Adlington (Canongate)



Nice, two-color illustration which also captures that tell-me-more feeling for a good book cover. Having said that I think the cover for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was overall a better cover (not not just because it had Katsu on it).





The Door that Led to Where, by Sally Gardner, art direction and design by Jet Purdie, illustration by Dover Publications Inc & Shutterstock (Hot Key Books)


I’ve seen an alternate cover for this book but I think this is the cover nominated.

All design rather than any amazing illustration but very well done. Nothing remotely technically complicated there. You could do all those effects just with a copy of Microsoft Word (or even Libre Office). However it is all done very effectively just with typography, a trapezium to suggest an angled door and a bit of stock images (the map behind and a door knob.)

Literally invites you in – ok, ok FIGURATIVELY invites you in



Get In Trouble, by Kelly Link, design by Alex Merto (Canongate)

514qc9qdphl-_sx325_bo1204203200_ My least favorite. I think this has all sort of been done before.

More on Book Covers

Cedar Sanderson at Mad Genius Club has a an article on book covers

Some good advice in particular:

First and most important: before you start designing a cover, creating art intended for book covers, or even thinking about a book cover, you need to look at book covers. A lot of them. Specific book covers to your genre is even better, as there are subtle cues you need to know and recognize, even if you aren’t doing your own covers.

Other aspects I only part agree with. There is an emphasis that what works as marketing trumps other considerations and that are some genre boundaries that should be crossed that are a bit Nutty-Nuggetsy.


2015 Not-a-Hugo for Best Cover

Following on from my last post. If there had been a Hugo for Best Book Cover what would have won? I’ve no idea of course! I’ve no way to properly survey what covers might have got nominated in that circumstance – particularly if covers of new editions of old books were eligible. And who knows in the era of Nutty Nuggets what covers the Puppies would have nominated.

So I’ll make my task easier. Of the books nominated, which had the best cover? I’ll include the withdrawn books also.

Here are the choices (by number of ‘Best Book’ nominations:

Continue reading “2015 Not-a-Hugo for Best Cover”