For this week’s roundup of the best and worst covers of new science fiction and fantasy releases I’m including an analysis of the books’ titles as well. Cover art might be the primary thing a casual shopper goes by to pick up something new off a shelf, but titles are important for marketing too, and writers often have more control over them. Here’s a look at this week’s four best and worst title/cover art combos:
Bad Cover; Bad Title
1636: The Saxon Uprising by Eric Flint, release date March 27, 2012
I don’t care how important a year it is, 1636 is a terrible start to a title. Numbers do not typically capture the imagination. And colons can also be dull…if it’s just a trick to smash two titles into one.
I see there is a cleverness to this title’s identifying the improbable year 1636 as the year for a Saxon uprising, but the cleverness doesn’t do enough work to make the title pop.
The cover art pretty much has the same effect as the title: it blends the archaic and the modern in a surprisingly boring way. You’d think there would be a bit of whimsy in putting a plane beside a medieval tower, but the cover ends up just looking like a standard fantasy cover with a few “which of these things does not belong” items sprinkled in for good measure.
Bad Title; Good Cover
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott re-issued February 27, 2012
Old and ‘celebrated’ as this book may be, I remained nonplussed by the title. It is trying to be clever by combining the oxymoronic “flat” with “many dimensions,” but the overall effect is stodgy humor at best (which makes sense given the original Victorian printing!). Shouldn’t a reissue of such an old text indicate the gravitas of the text somewhere on the cover as well?
The cover art is more interesting. It’s “flat” and dull in how it makes use of whites, blacks, primary colors, and a simple line drawing. But it’s also intriguing in how it hints at the content of the book in an unusual way – with an unconventional map that raises more questions than answers.
If the title had more going for it (and if the subtitles indicated the origin of this text), this cover art would be the perfect way to showcase it.
Good Title; Bad Cover
The Slipstream Con by S. Reesa Herberth released March 6, 2012
Any title with the word “con” automatically makes the book sound action-filled and exciting. Its use here is particularly great because it’s meaning is unclear. Is it referring to a person or an act? This ambiguity gives the book allure in its potential multiplicity.
“Slipstream” is also just a good word, with its sneaky, fast-moving connotations. Put the two words together and how can you go wrong?
Here’s how: by having a lame cover with a cheesy-looking font and a dime-a-dozen gun-toting hottie. Swing and a miss.
Good Title; Good Cover
The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner release date March 26, 2012
This might just be the greatest title ever. It’s funny, weird, risque, and attention-grabbing. Unlike all the other books on today’s roundup, after reading the title on this one I actually read the plot description (I was ravenous to read the plot description, actually), which makes me think this one’s got some real marketing potential.
The cover art is simple, but it also is eye-catching. The circles and the blue-filled letter “O” visually evoke images of cheerios and help conjure up images of sugar-frosted cereals while also mimicking a dizzying magic eye effect.
In addition, the off-kilter font, the upside-down “T” in “the,” and the mirror image typography for “a novel” give this book a sense of genuine whimsy that 1636: The Saxon Uprising only wishes it had.
And finally, the reviewer’s quote on the title – “America should treasure its rare, true original voices, and Mark Leyner is one of them. So treasure him already, you bastards” – seals the deal. It’s funny and irreverent, and it makes sure that this book begs to be picked up off the shelf.
You can view all of this week’s books (and previous ones) through the link below. Which covers do you think are the best?