The Contendahs (for the Bad Cover Contest)

We’ve had several contenders for the Bad Cover Contest, which I’ll post below the jump.

Writers bitch and moan all the time about the covers of our books. We always think we’d do better at picking covers. I had cover approval on one book in my career and it didn’t do me the least bit of good. I was supposed to see sketches, which never materialized, and I think I did a fairly lousy job of trying to explain to the artist how I saw the characters in the title story of the collection. One huge mistake I made was saying, “The narrator does not look like an armadillo.” Of course I should have told the artist what Dark does look like, because, also of course, what I got was an armadillo.

F.M. Busby and I had many amusing conversations about my armadillo and his lobsters, which always appeared on Cage a Man, because he’d told the original cover artist that the aliens did not look like lobsters even though they had exoskeletons.

The first I saw of the Fireflood cover was a nearly finished color proof of the painting. Even now changing a cover is not that easy, and this was back in pre-computer days, so it was even more difficult. I mentioned to my excellent and wonderful editor that I was, how shall I say, disappointed in the cover, and she said she would see what she could do. A few weeks later I got another copy of the cover. Imagine the Fireflood cover above exactly the same except that the flying person, Jay, is wearing a green Incredible Hulk wig.

Why do I get the impression that the artist was offended that I didn’t entirely like his original painting?

“The problem,” my editor said, when I whimpered, “is that we can send the painting back to the artist, but there’s no assurance that you’ll like it any better the next time, and if we delay any longer your book will have to be put off for a year.”

We went with the original cover.

And with that, here are the contenders so far in the Bad Cover Competition:

A Different flesh

Isaac Asimov presents: A Different Flesh (by somebody who isn’t Isaac Asimov even though the book is made to look like Asimov is who it’s by)

Sword of Aldones

Marion Zimmer Bradley: The Sword of Aldones

Der Kadett

Lois McMaster Bujold: Der Kadett (German translation, probably of Warrior’s Apprentice)


Terry Carr: Cirque

Hollow Lands

Michael Moorcock: The Hollow Lands

College of Magics

Caroline Stevermer: The College of Magics

I think Der Kadett has to earn a lot of points for its Jack Nicholson goofy grin, but for all around bad-on-all-fronts artwork, I’m going to have to be talked out of keeping the trophy for Droomslang:

— Vonda

You can find Dreamsnake and other ebooks by Vonda N. McIntyre in the Book View Cafe ebookstore, with a much nicer cover.

Vonda N. McIntyre is the author of the Nebula-winning novel The Moon and the Sun, which has a really nice cover, and which is being offered at Book View Café in electronic form for the first time. “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” the faux-encyclopedia article that inspired the novel, written by Vonda N. McIntyre and illustrated by Ursula K. Le Guin, appears as a Book View Café Bonus story.

Other fiction by Vonda N. McIntyre, including cell-phone-friendly formats of The Moon and the Sun, can be found in the fiction section of her website, as can mint copies of her published books. To celebrate the debut of Book View Café, book prices are temporarily lowered.

Books make great gifts!



The Contendahs (for the Bad Cover Contest) — 7 Comments

  1. When Lois Bujold saw the DER KADETT cover she unsaid all the hard things she had ever said about her Baen covers. In comparison they are not so bad!

  2. When I saw those cover I admire to those who created those things, they have a wide imagination about the topic. For me, all the entries are so great and I love it but it has a great one and It is the DER KADETT.

  3. As you predicted, no worse cover came to light. Droomslang reigns supreme! I have to admit that the more I see of Droomslang, the more I like it. It’s starting to grow on me. Is it the puppet snake, the title translation or the one vestigial tyrannosaur-like arm on the heroine? Hard to say….

  4. Hi Dave,

    I think of all the awfulnesses of the Droomslang cover, the ineptitude of the drawing is what bugs me most. “Tyrannosaur arm” is a good way to describe it. However, I’m convinced there are worse covers out there. Maybe some will come along in future days to give Droomslang a good run.


  5. The feel that I get from Der Kadett is that the artist started out with an adequate idea, and then the wheels fell off. It’s a caricature of Miles, done by his enemies. It might even better suit a later book in the series.