Category Archives: Friday Face-off

Friday Faceoff – The more I see, the less I know for sure…

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As luck would have it – I was running behind and hadn’t completely written up my Friday Faceoff yesterday before the internet went down – for the rest of the day. Thank you Sky for picking and choosing WHICH of your customers got the advance notification that you would be messing around with the phone lines (my sister did get the warning text – I didn’t!). So this article didn’t get posted and please accept my apologies for the lack of interaction on the blog in general…

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 panorama, so I’ve selected Cryoburn – Book 14 of the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

 

This Hardcover edition was produced by Baen in October 2010. It’s a panorama of the edifice where thousands upon thousands of people are stored in cryogenic stasis, which is the setting for this particular murder mystery. It’s a classic Baen cover, with large, blocky lettering featuring the author and title font. In this case, it’s shame they are quite so large as they blot out a lot of the excellent cover art – but it’s Baen’s trademark and I can’t fault them for their astute marketing model.

 

This Kindle edition was published in May 20111 and is, quite frankly, horrible. The clunky, charmless effort gives no hint about the genre or the fact this book is part of a highly successful series and an awesome read.

 

This Croatian edition, published by Algoritam in 2010, has attempted to recreate the vast scale of the cryostasis repository with Miles walking down one of the aisles. I’m interested to see that there is some attempt to depict his physical deformities, which is something the US covers often don’t do – although he is still without his cane. However, it is rather crude, even though it’s miles better than that dreadful, blobby egg-timer shown on the previous cover.

 

This edition, produced by Blackstone Audiobooks in October 2010 has taken the original cover and tweaked it, so that the title and author fonts don’t cosh you between the eyes. The result is a far classier version of the original cover which also shows the wonderful artwork. This is my favourite cover.

 

This French cover was published in November 2011 by J’ai Lu. I really like this cover. The dark tones reflect the fact we are dealing with a futuristic cemetery and the birds-eye view creates an eye-catching effect. They have even managed to give an echo of the Baen treatment of the title font without blotting out too much of the action – this is a very close contender for the top spot for me this week – which is your favourite?

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Friday Faceoff – It’s a family affair…

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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?

Friday Faceoff – Be as a tower firmly set…

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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 tower, so I’ve selected The Black Tower – Book 5 of the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries by P.D. James.

 

This edition was produced by Touchstone in April 2012 and I want to like it more than I do. It seems a rather cool idea to envelope a rather haunting image of a tower in a very dark tint. In reality, I think the result is rather dreary and unappealing – though I’m unsure whether that’s really the case, or the fact that I am very much drawn to bright, sunshine colours.

 

Published in April 2010 by Faber and Faber, I much prefer this version – though it might also be because this is cover of the book that I’ve read. It is rather brooding with a stark beauty about it and I also like the way the author and title fonts have been handled. This one is my favourite.

 

This edition, published by Scribner Book Company in January 1975, must have had poor P.D. James sighing in disgust. What were they thinking? This is a sophisticated murder mystery featuring a nuanced, clever protagonist during a personal crisis. Yet, this looks like something out of a Boys’ Own Annual…

 

This Spanish edition, produced by B de Books in August 2012 is certainly a lot better than the previous effort. The tower perched on the edge of the cliffs with the sea in the foreground and the deep blue colour is certainly attractive, but I think this cover still lacks sufficient finesse for such a cleverly constructed book.

 

This German cover, published in December 1998, is a dreadful effort. Someone let the children loose in the graphics department and then accidentally forgot to erase the effort – surely? So we have the photo of a ruined tower grafted over the image of flames which aren’t even to scale, making the whole thing look completely false. And then they further ruined the dodgy effort by plonking a lot of writing on the cover – although, come to think of it, maybe they added it in a vain attempt to draw attention away from the shockingly bad job they’d made. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – After every storm the sun will smile…

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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 the sun, so I’ve selected Sundiver – Book 1 of the Uplift series by David Brin.

 

This cover, produced by Bantam Spectra in July 2010, is certainly full of drama. They certainly have the tone of the novel nailed – bossy aliens and overwhelmed humans clearly on the back foot. The artwork is dramatic and pleasing, though it’s pity about those blocks of brown topping and tailing the cover.

 

This edition was produced by Orbit in December 2011 and is a copy of their 1996 design, which I actually prefer because I think the shadowed lettering stands out far more successfully. Unfortunately, because it is a photo of the cover, the definition is poor. But for all that, this is my favourite. That torus is just so beautiful against the sizzling heat of the sun…

 

Published in November 1981 by Bantam, I also really like this one. Where the previous cover is all about drama, heat and fire – this one is darker with shadows and… things lurking there that may or may not be threats. The sphere looks suitably otherworldly, too. The big problem with this one is the lettering – it blends into the artwork far too much.

 

This French edition, published by Le Livre de Poche in June 1995 is another good effort, with all those swirling solar winds. I like the rather quirky font, too. However the overall effect is rather crude which is why it isn’t my favourite, though I do have a soft spot for this one…

 

This German edition, produced by Heyne in February 2014 is another very pleasing effort. I love the simplicity of the design, which really pops in thumbnail size and the fade effect on David Brin’s name is very effective. It is wasn’t for that amazing torus, this would probably have got my vote this week. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – The king is dead, long live the king…

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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 Greek myths, so I’ve selected The King Must Die – Book 1 of the Theseus series by Mary Renault.

 

This cover, produced by Virago in March 2015, is my favourite. I really like the simplicity of this image – the white against the golden colour is very effective. I also like the fact that background is shaded and slightly patterned with that classic Hellenic design. My one grizzle is all that chatter on the cover seems unnecessary. Ah well – you can’t have it all. Apparently…

 

This Serbian edition was produced by Laguna in November 2012 and is also a reasonable effort, although that border pattern seems to hark back more to my great grandmother’s antimacassars than anything remotely Grecian. It’s a shame, because that apparently small anomaly really jars with me.

 

Published in 1990 by Hodder and Stoughton, this is a strong contender for being my favourite. I love the design – that statue of the minotaur with the blood-tipped curving horns makes for an arresting image. The frieze in the background is also well designed. I think, though, that the top cover just edges it.

 

This Portuguese edition, published by Círculo do Livro in 1985 is the least successful, in my opinion. While I love the striking, orange backdrop the figures are looking stilted and a bit peculiar. I think this would have been far more effective if Theseus and the minotaur were in silhouette.

 

This edition, produced by Vintage Books USA is another blast from the past as it was produced in 1988. I very much like the overall effect of this one – but the one drawback is that I cannot work out what that shape is. Is it a map of Greece? Not exactly, as far as I can gather. So I find it frustrating as neither can I make an outline of an aurochs or a Greek warrior. I’m probably being an idiot and missing something really obvious, here – I’m looking forward to someone telling me. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down…

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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 stairs, so I’ve selected Murder Must Advertise – Book 10 of the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers.

 

This cover, produced by HarperTorch in May 1995, is boringly generic. They have taken one of the original images and plonked it into the middle of a white cover. The best part of this cover is the period feel of the font, which is well done.

 

This edition was produced by Four Square Books in 1962 and is a far better effort. There is a real sense of drama conveyed by the crumpled body at the bottom of the twisting staircase with all the advertisements behind him on the wall. My big quibble with this cover is that ugly black block for the title font – if it wasn’t for that, this one would be my favourite.

 

Published in 1967 by Avon Books, this edition is my favourite. I love the marble effect of the cover and the lovely art deco effect produced on both the image and the fonts for the author and title, which look as if they have actually been designed to complement each other.

 

This edition, published by HarperPerennial in 1993 is another good effort. The staircase looks far more seedy and shadow of the hapless victim on the wall while falling to his death gives a rather creepy feel to the cover.

 

This Dutch edition, produced by Uitgeverij Het Spectrum is another blast from the past as it was produced in 1961. I like the punchy effect of the cream and black against the red, which I think would have been a much stronger colour before it faded with age. The figure falling headfirst down the stairs gives lots of drama to the cover, making it appealing and eye-catching. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – Groovy baby…

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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 featuring a retro cover, so I’ve gone with Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory.

 

This cover, produced by Knopf in June 2017, is quirky and clearly harking back to another time with the silhouetted profiles of the main protagonists – the Telemachus family. I have mixed feelings about this. I like the clean look and the attractive font used for the title and author name, but I really don’t like the black silhouette pictures as this art form was particularly popular during the Victorian era, which I think is confusing, given we do not go back to Victorian times in this accomplished, memorable novel.

 

This edition was produced by riverrun in June 2017. I prefer this one to the first offering. The clunky TV with the smiling family has a real retro feel, along with that hard blue colour that I recall from my early childhood. The font and author name looks attractive and while I like the strapline along the bottom, I think it’s a shame they saw fit to cram that clutter in the top left of the cover.

 

Published in February 2018 by Eichborn, this German edition is the most effective cover in my opinion. That wonderful orange swirling wallpaper gives a lovely retro feel and I love the photos, particularly that of the mother who died before her time. It is her death that shatters the family. I love the sadness on her face – and that classic hairstyle. A clever, eye-catching cover that relates directly to the content, this is my favourite but which is yours?

Friday Faceoff – My, what big teeth you have…

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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 featuring a cloaked figure, so I’ve gone with Spellwright by Blake Charlton.

 

This cover, produced by Tor Books in March 2010, is dramatic and beautiful with the young apprentice trying to cast a spell on the battlements of the college. I love the setting, with the stone carvings and the city off in the distance – there is a nice touch with two moons in the sky and for me, the finishing touch is that lovely title font. This is my favourite cover.

 

This edition was produced by Voyager in March 2011. I like this one – the ball of glowing letters against the green background is eye-catching and attractive. My main concern is that I’m not sure if it fully conveys a fantasy read about a dyslexic wizard – I think it might be for a science fiction genetic disaster adventure.

 

Published in May 2010 by Harper Voyager, this is another effective and dramatic cover featuring young Nicodemus, the young wizard who cannot accurately spell the… spells he is casting. I have a soft spot for this one, although it doesn’t surpass the first cover for beauty or drama.

 

Produced in September 2010 by Prószyński Media, this dramatic Polish cover is giving us a very dramatic rendition of the antagonist who is plotting to control young Nicodemus. However, I am concerned that prospective readers might get a completely different idea about this book – while there is plenty of action in Spellwright, it isn’t particularly gory or horrific.

 

This Spanish offering, published in November 2011 by Versátil Ediciones is yet another eye-catching and attractive cover. But I think this one is even more liable to confuse the reader as to the genre of this book – with those letters and the vivid green starburst, I think this one could be mistaken as a biological disaster adventure story. What do you think and which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – Lucy in the sky with diamonds…

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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 featuring a psychedelic cover, so I’ve gone with Life of Pi by Yann Martel. To be honest, I’m not sure if these covers are particularly psychedelic – but I love the swirling patterns, so went for them anyway.

 

This cover, produced by Penguin Random House in 2011, is my favourite. I just love the clever use of pattern with the dark blue and black swirls – and it wasn’t until I looked a bit more closely, I realised the detail of the boy represented the tiger’s eye. I am also delighted the publisher chose not to smother the clever, classy design with a load of blurb.

 

This French edition was produced by Gallimard Education in November 2009. I would like the swirling tiger stripes far more if there wasn’t that great big ugly blue block bang in the middle of the cover sporting a very boring font for both title and author. That blue strip is at least twice the size necessary and I’m trying hard to think of any reason why anyone would think it is anything other than scabrous blot on an otherwise attractive design.

 

Published in May 2003 by Canongate Books, this is one of the most popular cover designs for the book and rightly so. You might not think that is a big deal, but there are dozens of different covers for this book – I was spoilt for choice. I happen to like this one very much. Not only is it eye-catching and attractive, it very deftly sums up the plight of the main character in a startlingly effective way.

 

Produced in November 2012 by Canongate, I’m guessing this is the cover of the film. That said, it is both striking and attractive while managing to keep spurious details about the film to the bare minimum. If there weren’t other such strong contenders, this one would be in the running.

 

This offering, published in May 2004 by Mariner Books/Harvest Books, is another lovely cover with that fabulous sky and seascape featuring the boat. I very much like the subtle detailing around the edge and again, I appreciate the economy of the title and author fronts. All in all, while I may not have hit the brief with sufficient psychedelia, I think this week I have a series of rather lovely covers. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – The grass is always greener over the septic tank…

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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 and is currently hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog. This week the theme is a cover featuring grass, so I’ve gone with The Long Earth – Book 1 of The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

 

This cover, produced by HarperCollins in June 2012, is the version I read. As a result, I have a real soft spot for it. I love the worlds lined up in the sky, which give a strong sense of the content and the world depicted looks very unspoilt and free from mankind – until now, that is. My one grizzle is that the author names, along with the title do tend to sprawl across the image rather intrusively.

 

This French edition was produced by L’Atalante in June 2013. Again, sweeping grassland features, although this is a world where humanity has already got a foothold with tracks, fencing and an airship. Again, those other worlds are lined up in the sky. I like the fact that the title and author is clumped neatly in one corner, which gives a far better sense of the immensity of the landscape.

 

Published in April 2016 by Nemira, this Romanian cover is my favourite. I love the solitude of the figure on the outcrop, staring up at the other worlds lined up in the sky. As well as the lovely landscape, there is also that stunning spacescape – this one has it all, in my opinion.

 

Produced in 2013 by Prószyński i S-ka, this is another effective cover. While I prefer the figure just standing, a little stunned, in the previous cover, the running man in this one is also striking and once again, the sky full of different versions of Earth is beautiful. It is very close contender for the favourite.

 

This Turkish offering, published in February 2014 by İthaki Yayınları, is another lovely cover with those wide vistas and multi worlds, but what spoils this one is the writing sprawling across the whole image, which is the same peeve I have with that first cover. However, all in all, I think Terry and Stephen were very lucky to have such a lovely lot of different covers. Which is your favourite?