Friday Faceoff – It’s a family affair…


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 a cover featuring a family, so I’ve selected The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein.


This audio edition was produced by Full Cast Audio in February 2005. It’s a spacescape so I really like it – the character in the forefront being upside down is nicely dramatic. However, she looks rather bored by the whole business and as they are clearly performing some sort of maintenance task on the outside of the ship, I doubt if she would ever get to a stage where it would be quite so tedious to be floating at the end of a tether outside the ship. And I loathe the nasty strip along the bottom of the cover which is completely unnecessary, given this is a relatively modern design.


Published in February 1978 by Del Rey Books, I much prefer this version. There is plenty of drama as the twins are rushing around the spaceship, trying to gather up all these tribble-like creatures. I also think the font is rather funky and attractive, contrasting well with the bright interior of their ship. This one is my favourite, though I don’t like all the chatter cluttering up the author and title.


This edition, published by Baen in March 2009, has by contrast a rather generic feel. It is clearly part of the house style, with the classic Baen fonts for the title and author, along with the obligatory spacescape. The trouble is that this scene could be any old ship with a couple of suited figures, who don’t particularly look as though they are part of a family unit.


This edition, produced by Ace in November 1970 definitely has a retro feel – that rocket and those suits are more reminiscent of the 1950s, when this book first hit the shelves. However, there is no sense that the crew are a family. While the orange font certainly pops, it is rather flat, again underlining the period feel of this cover. There is rather too much chat, again, spoiling the effect.


This Czech cover was published in 2003. I have a really soft spot for this one. The angle of the ship with the two suited figures working on it draws the eye onto the attractive and eye-catching title font. I also love the touch of having the title on the ship. This is a close contender for the top spot for me – but what about you? Which is your favourite?

34 responses »

    • They are definitely eye candy if you are a space opera fan, aren’t they? Yes – there’s nothing wrong with the Baen cover and it certainly has their characteristic house style – which makes marketing sense as Baen have made a point of building their own particular fan base who target their books because they are published by Baen. A smart move…

  1. The 1978 Del Rey is my favorite, because it made me smile. At first I thought they were all reaching out for floating loaves of bread, haha! Then on closer inspection, I thought they looked like tribbles as well. How can I not like this one? 🙂

  2. I think I’d have to go with that last cover. The rockets on the other covers all look sooooo generic. The tribble things make me think of tribbles, so then I’m just thinking Star Trek, even though that’s not what this is. 🙂 But ship in the last cover looks more unique, and I do want to wonder about a ship called “Rolling Stones.”

  3. They’re ALL good. Some look retro; some are more modern, but they all have good composition and color. I’d buy any (or all) of them if I judged by covers alone.

    • Yes – there isn’t one I dislike, though none of them tick all my boxes. But you’re right, Rae, I would stop and look at the book twice and probably buy it with at least two of these:).

  4. I remember reading the book a long time ago, and I clearly remember the second cover, so it must have been the one I bought back then: my memory of the story is somewhat foggy, but the scene depicted there still brought a smile to my face… 🙂

  5. Nice seeing how they all bring the sci-fi/ space them to live differently. I think the Czech one is my favorite. I like the angle of the ship and how the people in those space suits are present as well. The second one is a nice one as well, although in this format it took me a bit of time to figure out what all those little blobs were until i realized there was one more close up on the front.

  6. This is quite a collection of covers! I must say, though, that I don’t find any of them entirely satisfactory. After some dithering, I finally opted for the Czech cover. I really like the angle of the spaceship. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spaceship depicted like this before. Plus, I really like the bold treatment of the author’s name and title, with that red-orange that matches the space suits of the characters on the cover. Another plus is that there’s no “chatter” to spoil the composition. However, I don’t like the title being on the spaceship. Overall, though, I do prefer this cover.

    My second favorite — or perhaps it’s tied for first place — is the Baen cover. I LOVE the boldness of it, plus this one doesn’t have that annoying “chatter” on it, either.

    You are SO right about that strip at the bottom of the audio cover! It messes up the whole thing!

    As for that retro cover….UGH. This is the problem I’ve always had with books published in the 1950s — they look SO dorky! Lol. Well, I guess back then, they looked really futuristic to readers, lol.

    Thanks so much for sharing these!! HUGS!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Yes… the retro covers are an acquired taste and say something to those of us who were around at the time, though I’ll freely admit that figures tend to look very wooden in that period.

      The Czech cover is very strong – I think the title is actually on the cover under Heinlein’s name, but in the story, the ship is actually called The Rolling Stones and originally this book was called Space Family Stone, so I think the cover artist was just being thorough. Thank you for your opinion – it’s lovely to get such a range of feedback on these weekly posts:)

  7. I saw this book and thought “oh I loved this” and then realized I remember not a single thing about the plot or characters! The information fell out over time. I do like the tribble cover best. I just finished listening to stranger in a strange land and have been thinking about it for days. It is going to take me some time to write that review.
    x The Captain

    • I think that’s often what happens with a lot of books – but given how many books you read a year – just remembering that you’ve actually read it and enjoyed it is a win, don’t you think? There are a whole lot of books that I’ve read and enjoyed – and simply can’t even recall that I’ve read them…

  8. A tough choice on these ones! None is perfect, and I’m torn between the first and the third… Though the third does look more “elegant”/”thoughtful” when it comes to pure design.

      • No. I only read one book by Robert Heinlein. I really enjoyed it up to 2/3, but the last bit left me so frustrated and disappointed, I never picked up any other book of his. It might have gotten to me in a wrong moment or something, but I never returned to the author.

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