Friday, February 13, 2009

Judging a Book. . .

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?


  1. It was used 'L'Ecorcheur' (French version of The Skinner) and is my favourite cover of all.

  2. Thank you for the correction, Mr. Asher. I am ashamed to say that I have not yet read any of your novels although they appear to be set in a genre that I'm sure I would enjoy.

    Since reading your comment, however, I have taken the time to read your novelette, Adaptogenic. I enjoyed it immensely :D