Friday Faceoff – There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFacetunnelcovers


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 meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting TUNNELS. I’ve selected Tunnel in the Sky – Book 9 of Heinlein’s Juveniles by Robert A. Heinlein.

Well gosh! This spiffy adventure is a real blast from the past and this range of covers are either celebrating its age, or attempting to update its appeal to a new generation… You decide which option works best. This first offering, published by Pocket Books in April 2005 is firmly in the latter camp. There is definitely a tunnel there – in a very techy, cool way… It’s the cover that attracted me to this book for this subject in the first place and I do love the colours and the visual effect – if it was a book designed for adults.

Published in October 1987 by Ace Books, this cover is definitely of its time. I have a really soft spot for it – I love the determined look on the young man’s face. He is definitely out to subdue this landscape, rather than work with it! No environmental concerns in evidence here… I also like the sci fi font, which works well with the design, though I’d prefer the title font to be just a tad larger.

This edition, published by Ace Books in January 1972 is a real contender. I am always a sucker for spacescapes and I love the planet in the background as our plucky young protagonist stands on the edge of his adventure. I also like the way the author font matches the colouring in the planet, which gives strong visual coherence to the overall design. And though there is persuasive chatter in evidence – for once someone has given thought to how to present it so that it works with, rather than detracts from, the overall visual effect.

This Russian edition, published by Эксмо in November 2015, highlights the difference between the modern approach and the vintage covers. It’s far more about the technical equipment making this journey possible, full of cool-looking details. And I love that beam lighting up the backdrop, providing a really beautiful effect… It is a wonderful effort. And then some fool went and plonked that nasty acidic yellow blob in the middle of it, presumably assuring prospective readers that it is worth picking up. Really?? Why do publishers assume readers aren’t capable of judging a book’s merits by checking out the opening pages, or reading the blurb? Not that this winds me up. At all…

This audiobook edition, published by Brilliance Audio in March 2015, is the only one to feature the young protagonist as black – which is how Heinlein wrote him. Kudos to Brilliance for not whitewashing him. I also like the colourful backdrop, with plenty of pleasing detail, while the portal is effectively depicted, too. And while I wince at the ugly black strip across the top, at least it is difficult to ignore the important message – that this is a CD audiobook. This design, with its nod to the vintage feel of the story and picking up many of the important elements with respect, and presenting them in an exciting, visually appealing design, is my favourite. Which is yours?

34 responses »

  1. I would have said the Russian cover until I read your comments and noticed the dreaded yellow blob!!! I do rather like it’s shining futuristic vibes though 😀

    • Yes – I think it tells the story really well. Some of the covers featured large alien monsters – which apparently don’t feature in the story, which I think is a really dodgy move!

    • Yes… that one really spoke to me, but I’m not sure how it would appeal to the targe audience, which was the main reason why I didn’t go for it. I’m guessing it is marketed to those who’d read the book as teenagers as a nostalgic read – in which case it’s a very smart move:)).

  2. Hi there Sarah! I always see this feature that you do on Fridays and I love it! I love book covers… There used to be a feature called “Cover characteristics”, but I don’t see it any more. I’ve tried to bring it in with my Friday Post, but still need to work on it a bit! Luckily I know where to find you if I need more help….

    I struggled with the Tunnel theme, will be more prepared next week. I remember one of the Mary Higgins Clark books had a tunnel on the cover, but I can’t remember which one! I just googled….

    Here’s my Weekend Book Friends

    • It’s so much fun, Mareli – you’re very welcome to join in the fun. I heavily rely on Goodreads, which provides all the alternative editions and cuts down a lot of time gooooogling:)). The trick is just to work out which books to choose.

  3. I agree on that last cover! What a pity they felt they should whitewash the character for the cover. Tell it like it is, you know? But that 1972 book looks amazing, too, with the door so big it dwarfs the planet.

    • It’s only been relatively recently that publishers even consider whether the cover character is remotely similar to the protagonist – and certainly when it’s been a POC protagonist. I’ve been moaning about for years, off and on…

      • Honestly, I never thought on this before, but you’re right–that’s a legit snub and problem that should never have been a problem in the first place.

      • Absolutely! Fortunately, I think that publishers are now increasingly aware that readers are becoming quite militant about such issues – and quite right too!

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