When I first contracted to Tor, cover design questions came up: what was going on the cover? One of my many suggestions was simply to have Big Fucking Spaceships on the cover of Angel Stations, with Shit Blowing Up in the backdrop. Partly this developed from a sense that I was part of a long and grand tradition of authors whose books featured Big Fucking Spaceships with Shit Blowing Up somewhere behind them, although this admittedly grew out of a childhood inability to recognise the frequent inappropriateness of this form of illustration when wrapped around a book by, say, Christopher Priest or JG Ballard.

However, the covers I got for the stuff I've done so far were pretty bloody wonderful, particularly the design for Against Gravity, which actually hangs on my wall. They weren't really, at heart, Big Fucking Spaceship books. Not really. Even though they both did have Big Fucking Spaceships in them.

So anyway, I got an email today, about the cover design they're working on for Stealing Light: it looks like I'm going to get that Big Fucking Spaceship with Shit Blowing Up after all. Which makes sense, because Stealing Light is clearly a BFS with SBU kind of book.

Previously, I wrote the book and then they came up with the cover art, but the fact they're working on it a good few months prior to the deadline suggests to me perhaps they're looking at getting this one out on the shelves a tad earlier than I'd previously suspected. Under normal circumstances I'd have had a new book coming out round about now to go with the paperback release of Against Gravity, but figuring out just what Tor wanted from me (not stories about jazz-obsessed experimental drug-taking '60's period abstract artists helping tinfoil hat wearing mole men under NY's Grand Central Station prevent an attack by Nazis from the Fourth Dimension, apparently) took a while.

Back update: still better, but not quite enough. Like I said, I got out during the day a couple of times last week for some very brief trips into town, but the back is feeling a bit more sore again this week. I actually got as far as stepping out the front door on Saturday night before admitting to myself I was in enough pain I'd end up with a lot more pain if I tried doing the socialising thing. So back in I went, to spend yet another Saturday night on painkillers and watching TV. Which was, shall we say, a touch depressing.

One thing I've been warned of is rushing back into normal activity too quickly, but I've also been advised it's best to get as much exercise as possible. But finding the balance between these two is a matter of personal guesswork. I wanted to try and make it along to a new screenwriting group I found on Tuesday evening, but I'm not going to know if I'm up to that until the time comes. Perhaps I should save myself for next weekend, and see if I'm any better.


Neal Asher said...

Nothing wrong with big fucking spaceships and stuff blowing up. I'm making a career out of it. However, it's not that, specifically, that Tor wants from you. It's entertainment, not writer disappearing up own rectum and don't the critics love me, writing, which is great for deeply literati-intellectual reviews but don't look so great on the balance sheet. Excuse me - red wine.

Bob Lock said...

It's weird, but some people have mentioned the covers on Neal's books a lot and I can't help but think do people put too much faith in the visuals of a book?

What good is a great cover when the story is crap? (not that yours or Neal's are btw)

Am I the only one who takes more notice of the back of book blurb or reviews than the pretty pictures?

Iechyd da, Gary and Neal...hic!

(can of draught Guiness)


Gary Gibson, science fiction writer said...

Lou Anders has some thoughts on the subject of artwork:

http://www.louanders.com/2006/07/judging-books-by-their-covers-part-ii.html It varies from person to person. But remember that cover art is designed to grab the attention of a reader confronted with maybe hundreds of titles on a genre shelf in Waterstones, which is why art departments pay so much attention to it. For me art helps, but so do back of cover reviews.

Bob Lock said...

Hi again Gary,

Took a look at Lou Anders' thread and contributed to it thus:

Hi all,

I've arrived here following a thread from a Neal Asher and Gary Gibson discussion on bookcovers where I remarked that I find it weird that so many people put so much faith in a book cover to portray faithfully the contents of the book they are thinking of purchasing.

I can't help but pay credence to the old adage that 'you can't judge a book by its cover' for I've fallen foul to it a few times myself.

It's all well and good being seduced by an incredible graphic of strange worlds with exotic creatures and outlandish space-craft in orbit, but surely the yardstick to go by is not the pretty picture on the cover but perhaps the reviews or back-of-book blurb from other authors or readers of some authority?

How many times have you picked up a book, tempted by its cover, given it the benefit of the doubt and bought it, only to find that perhaps its most redeeming factor is just that... the cover?

Don't get me wrong. I can see the obvious benefit of having an outstanding graphic adorning your cover. It's bait to draw in a potential reader, then hopefully if your opening paragraph has a well laden hook then you have landed another reader, another sale. If ever I'm in the happy position to get one of my stories sold I'd more than likely want the best book cover possible too. It's just such a weird way of looking at the art which you are trying to promote, which fundamentally is... story-telling.

It's like going to a top-of-the-range Hi Fi shop and buying the system that has the most flashing lights and coolest looking fascia. Then you get it home, switch it on and hope it sounds better than your old mono radiogram

Thanks for the link,