It’s another Book Cover Smackdown! The theme this time around is books appearing next month.

Your mission should you decide to accept it: play art critic!

Tell us what you like and what you dislike about these covers…what are the pros and cons of each? Which one is best? Do any of them spark your interest?


Hot Head by Simon Ings (Gollancz | February 13, 2014)

An ambitious SF novel that is at once post-cyberpunk and post-modern. Complex, multi-layered, it combines hard science, tarot and images of late 20th-century Europe to make something utterly original. And introduces a memorable new heroine to the genre…Malise has a problem. She’s come downwell to Earth, but years of space combat have ruined her: her muscles have wasted away, her past is a confused torture of events and her brain is wired to addictive military hardware that’s illegal on Earth. But with an AI mining probe returning to Earth, having bred and grown until it is hundreds of miles across, Malise is in the firing line again. The probe is indestructible and it is insatiable for more metals. No one knows how to stop it. Malise doesn’t know she has a blueprint for humanity’s survival wired into her head.


The Runestone Incident by Neve Maslakovic (47North| February 11, 2014)

We found ten men, red from blood and dead…

At the center of an expanding mystery: a fabled Viking runestone left behind in the Minnesota woodland of ages past.

In this much anticipated second installment of Neve Maslakovic’s time travel series, St. Sunniva University’s Julia Olsen and Nate Kirkland find themselves hot on the trail of a fourteenth-century artifact, a missing runic specialist, and an all-too-familiar kidnapper who has used the time travel lab’s STEWie (SpaceTimE Warper) for a joyride deep into America’s past.

Armed with nothing more than a hunch and a keen understanding of History’s rules, can Julia, Nate, and their teammates track down the kidnapper and the missing researcher before the inevitable—and perilous—clash with History?

A skillful blend of mystery, science, and history, The Runestone Incident is a smart and satisfying follow-up to The Far Time Incident.


The Martian by Andy Weir (Crown | February 11, 2014)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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