Yes, that old adage; "Don't judge a book by its cover." Yet I find myself falling into that trap quite often when browsing for 'something' new. This is especially true of my favourite place to shop, the bargain books section of McNally Robinson.
Which leads me to today's slightly off topic review, the book covers of Stephan Martiniere. It turns out that for years he has been covertly manipulating me into buying books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Sometimes they're good, sometimes, not so much. I believe the first book I bought with one of his covers (although another may have slipped through unnoticed before then) was The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld. An excellent book that was followed by a rather dissapointing sequel, The Killing of Worlds, which also sported the artwork of Mr. Martiniere. Actually Westerfeld wrote them as one book (hardcover) before his publisher got greedy and split it into two pocket sized paperbacks each for the price of a full book. (They probably claim it would have been too big for the paperback binding.)
I was actually suprised at the number of book covers I own that were created by Martiniere. Some are more impressive than others. For instance, I don't think I would have ever connected the cover for the book, Heavy Planet by Hal Clement, to Stephan Martiniere before seeing it on his website. The book was an interesting read. It collects that author's stories that set on the jovian planet Mesklin which has a gravity up to 700 times heavier than earth.
I think a classic example of Martiniere's style can be found on the cover of Building Harlequin's Moon by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper. The novel was a pleasant diversion, though not really all that memorable. Great cover though.
As a book, Newton's Wake by Ken MacCloud was slightly more interesting. The cover is pretty good too, although the spaceship is the wrong shape.
Of course, the best book by far that is contained by Martiniere's artwork is Karl Schroeder's Lady of Mazes. I won't say anything about it now because I am working on a full review for this book. Thank you, Martiniere, for introducing me to the works of this fine author.
I've also picked up Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven, but I've read the other books in the series so probably can't blame the cover on that one. I haven't read it yet.
Here are some of my favorite Martiniere covers:
Cover for Mainspring by Jay Lake
Cover for Escapement by Jay Lake
Cover for Infoquake by David Louis Edelman
Cover for MultiReal by David Louis Edelman
Cover for The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham
Cover for An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham
Cover for The New Space Opera by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan
Cover for Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross
Cover for Queen of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
Cover for Skinner by Neal Asher (French edition)
Cover for The Peace War by Vernor Vinge
Cover for Marooned in Real Time by Vernor Vinge
Cover for The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick
Cover for Terraforming Earth by Jack Williamson
Cover for The Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper
Cover for Elom by William H. Drinkard
Cover for A World Too Near by Kay Kenyon
Cover (reworked) for Writers of the Future Volume 24?