Friday Faceoff – Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is planets, so I’ve chosen The Empress of Mars by the wonderfully talented Kage Baker.


This is the cover produced by Tor in May 2009. I like this one – the depiction of the half-terraformed planet is vividly portrayed without any undue clutter or blurb, which makes this one very effective.


This Italian edition, produced in October 2007 by Delos Books is more static with the red desert landscape featuring, rather than showing any of the feisty characters that ping off the page. I don’t feel this cover does the book justice, but neither is it an egregious travesty either.


Published in December 2008 by Subterranean Press, this cover is less about the Mars environment and more about the characters. It tends to have a sense of fantasy about it, which isn’t quite right. That said, it is eye-catching and effective and anything that encourages a reader to pick one of Baker’s books off the shelf is to be encouraged.


This cover, produced by in 2003 by Night Shade Books, once again features a Martian landscape. This depiction certainly looks very like a lot of the images we have seen of Mars, especially the pink-tinged sky and rather foreshortened horizon. I particularly like the font on this one. As for my favourite? This week I simply cannot decide. What about you – do you have a preference?

29 responses »

  1. That first one is the best. Can’t quite express it but it’s almost like it’s a signature for science fiction. Actually, I love it.

    • Yes, it’s a great cover isn’t it? For me, while it’s a great cover, it didn’t quite capture the sheer quirkiness of the book – but I realise I am being very picky!

    • It certainly clearly defines the genre and is far more dynamic than any of the other covers. I see what you mean about the second cover, though it hasn’t occurred to me until you mentioned it, Ginni:)

    • Yes… while none of these were terrible – I wasn’t unduly drawn to any of them. But I really LOVE Baker’s writing and I don’t think any of these covers quite measure up to the content.

  2. I think the Tor and Subterranean covers depict what the novel is about. I prefer the Tor one. The other two look like travel guides! Admittedly, guides published by Lonely Planet, so that might have been what they were going for, but I felt they were slightly wide of the mark.

    • Yes – I think you have a point there, Simone. It hadn’t occurred to me – but I see what you mean about the travel guide feel about the second and fourth covers:)

  3. Definitely the Tor one. It’s vivid and very sci-fi without being garish. And I agree wtih Dog Days – the second and fourth ones look more like travel guide covers than the covers of a novel.

    • Yes – I think it is probably the best of the bunch. I hadn’t thought about the travel guide aspect of the other two until Dog Days and Ginni mentioned it.

    • Absolutely not! We are discussing book covers, not judging visitors by their choices:)). If you prefer the last cover, that’s fine by me. As it happens, it is one of the reasons why I couldn’t make up my mind – it was between that one and the first one…

      • Yeah, the first one’s good too. Moderate, but still suggests some action, I guess? The deciding quality should be the actual contents of the book, which I’m not qualified to judge on, cause I haven’t read it 😀

    • I don’t know all that much about that side of things – one or two artists I’ve met from the good old days pre-computer design said they always read the book. These days, I’m not so sure – even books with clearly a fair amount of cash behind them have covers that simply don’t reflect the content.

    • These days, I’m not sure if there’s time. It is now far more pressured as it is largely computer-generated artwork and as publishers are increasingly squeezed, in fairness – I think artists rely on synopses and input from the publisher’s marketing department and with the smaller indie publishers, the writer’s input is also required. I know I have been asked what I would like to see on the cover of my upcoming novel with Grimbold.

  4. what curious covers this week! It’s like nothing feels *perfect* about the covers. I do love the illustrations on the first one–it feels imaginative without going overboard, as I think the third one did. but the font on the first one is sooooo dull. If you take the font from the fourth and put it on the first, THEN I think the cover would be awesome! It’s just so strange the 2nd and 4th go with a sort of stock Mars footage, the third went for a more campy approach (in my opinion), and the first knew how to balance imagination, color, and style, but apparently had only a default font to work with. Gah!

    • You’re spot on, Jean. None of them are terrible – but none of them really are spot on, either. Which is why I ended up sitting on the fence this week:). Thank you for your insight, my friend!

    • I have ceased to be surprised at the poor quality of some covers – and there is undoubtedly times when cover design in general is better than others. But at least there are a bunch of good ones out there:).

      • Indeed. And speaking about covers, good and bad, helps to spread awareness, especially among the indie authors. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.