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Book Cover Smackdown! Terra Insegura vs. Haze vs. Boneshaker

Three more books visually dazzled me this week. Take a look at these beauties:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick your favorite cover. Good luck — I love them all.

Books shown here:

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

52 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! Terra Insegura vs. Haze vs. Boneshaker

  1. Dennis S. // April 16, 2009 at 4:18 am //

    Well, you’re not going to make it easy on us, are you? This is definitely the most difficult one yet.

    I’m not sure I can pick a favorite this time. Martiniere’s cover is great, as usual, but if you put a gun to my head I suppose that I would have to choose between Sparth’s and Foster’s cover as they are quite unlike the usual covers I see. I absolutely love the perspective and the scene of Sparth’s cover but Foster’s cover is really beautiful and intriguing as well.

    It’s honestly a toss up between those two, as different as they may be. But all three covers make me want to learn more about the books, for sure.


    If anything, this just assures me that I need to get artbooks from both Martiniere, Sparth and Foster.

  2. The artbooks that Martiniere have put out are great, Dennis.  I’m partial to his cover in these

    three on general principles.  I have to admit, though, its a close run thing. These are all

    awesome covers. 

  3. Wow.  All three are amazing covers but I will vote for the cover by Sparth.  It reminds me of the classic Analog covers of the seventies.

  4. >>…you’re not going to make it easy on us, are you?

    That’s why I’m on this side of the smackdown! 🙂

  5. All three covers are great and the artist who created them are very talented. I’ll go with Jon Foster however 🙂

  6. Oddly enough, I like the Terra Insegura cover the best <G>…but after that, I think Boneshaker would catch my eye first. It’s got that whole airships-and-steampunk vibe going for it.

  7. I don’t like the multi colored text on Terra Insegura, although I see what they were trying to do there.

    I love the fonts, colors, and other 2D imbellishments on Boneshaker, but soemthing about that face makes the book unattractive to me.

    So I’d have to go with Haze. Sparth is great.

  8. All fantastic covers, I have to admit my preference for the Jon foster cover. Amazing image.

  9. I like the images of all the covers, and all three artists.  However, the Willett book (which I have) is marred by the text of the title, which contrasts in a negative way with the otherwise terrific piece by Stephan Martiniere.


    Of the remaining two, I think I’m leaning with the Priest/Jon Foster.

  10. Haze has the most vigorous illustration, but the best cover belongs to Boneshaker: the almost monochromatic tones, the tight crop on the face, and the strong typographic work make it pop. Great art direction.

  11. Fantastic art for all 3 covers!  I’m a sucker for Martiniere’s work so I’d give him the nod if it was just the art.  Boneshaker has the best typography/layout while Terra’s is just plain bad.  It draws the eye in a negative way.  Haze just looks indestinct which I guess is on purpose.  Overall I think Boneshaker is the best of the lot.

  12. i’ll have to pick Boneshaker, the cover as a whole is best. the text deon’t detract from the art as the other two do.

    Haze can be fixed with a better font choice.

  13. These are all three fantastic. I particularly like the Sparth cover but these are all great covers, and none of them are anything but excellent.

  14. Martiniere wins! Then Sparth.

  15. Martiniere and Sparth’s covers are great displays of what they do best…slick ships and buildings, but for my money I’ll take the Foster cover. You never know what Foster will do next for a cover and it’s always original. The typesetting on that book is also very unique.

  16. I vote BoneShaker.

  17. Boneshaker, hands down – Jon Foster’s work on that cover is absolutely breathtaking! 🙂

  18. Boneshaker – John foster – Rocking sir!

  19. Love the steampunk look in Boneshaker.

  20. This was tough at first, but the more I looked at them, the more I realized seeing them lined up side by side by side – the eye is drawn naturally and consistently to the face on BONESHAKER. It’s a human instinct to look for the familiar, and try as I might, my eye wanders straight to that cover every time.

    My wallet and desire to read would have the final say, but my eye is constantly going to BONESHAKER so I have to give marks where marks are due, and call that one the best.

  21. Boneshaker, for sure.

  22. I agree with the comparison of Sparth’s cover to the classic old Analog covers, but that’s actually why I prefer Foster’s Boneshaker cover: It feels like I’ve seen that cover 30,000 times over the last 30+ years.

    It’s a very good cover, mind you (and kudos to the art director for the translucent title font), and it would easily accomplish the all-important task of getting me to pick the book off the shelf of the book store; but the Boneshaker cover would not only get me to pick the book off the shelf and flip it over to see what it’s about, it would have me preemptivelywanting to buy the book even before I read the back cover copy.

    As for the Martiniere, I’m going to have to say that I suspect I would like it a lot better in person; as a 2″x4″ block of laptop monitor space, I think it loses just a bit too much detail for me to really evaluate it properly. Maybe I should try to load this page up on a bigger monitor somewhere.

  23. Ooh! Jon Foster! Man, I LOVE that.

  24. Boneshaker, definitely.

  25. Boneshaker. Because of its typography. All three cover illustrations look great, but the type treatment of the other two… Hmm. Yes. Boneshaker definitely wins my vote. (Btw, it would be nice to learn the names of the typographers, designers and art directors behind these covers as well. They deserve respect and/or criticism too.)

  26. Jon Foster’s Boneshaker–100% kick but awesomeness!

  27. It’s Boneshaker for me, hands down. The other two are good, but that one is jaw-dropping.

  28. Boneshaker by Jon Foster. What a gorgeous cover. My eye’s drawn to the slickness of it, the typography, and the awesome image within the lens of those ultra-cool goggles.

  29. I pre-ordered Boneshaker on Amazon after I saw the cover. 

  30. I’d pick the Sparth cover – he chose a color scheme/perspective I don’t see very often, and it’s very striking. Boneshaker decidedly has the best typography, though; it feels like a part of the design as opposed to looking like an afterthought in the other two (and yikes, that rainbow font on the Martiniere? Not a good choice.)

  31. Jon Foster is my favorite. Hands down

  32. Geez! Are we picking best cover or best cover art? I see so many opinions predicated on opinions about the typography, and too few based on the art alone.

    But if the art is what we’re after, it’s a hands-down, no question, slam-dunk for me: Jon Foster, by a mile. So fresh and different and creative!

  33. This one is darn near impossible!  I absolutely love the cover for Cherie Priest’s upcoming novel, but I am so partial to the work of Martiniere, and Sparth’s cover is amazing as well.  I want them all!!!

  34. Hey Todd – Well, it’s called the “cover smackdown” so they are right to evaluate the full cover – that’s what’ll be on the shelf and (hopefully) attracting readers. Design can dramaticaly change the way the art is percieved. It’s interesting and important to see how people react to the full package. And it’s why _I_ keep coming back here  to eavesdrop. 😉

    That said, I love websites and annuals like Spectrum — to get a look at the art as art, unencumbered by the design.


  35. I’ll also add that in the future, I’ll try to include the name of the cover designer if the information is given to me.

  36. Wow, this really is a tough one.  It’s between Terra Insegura and Boneshaker, I think.

    I think I’m gonna go for Martiniere’s Terra Insegura here cause it makes me want to delve into this dark world. 

    But everyone ought to check out these artists’ websites; they have some great work on them!

  37. Laura Wattles // April 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm //

    I like the cover for Boneshaker. I just like people in paintings and book covers.

  38. Tough one. Gonna have to go with Boneshaker.

  39. They’re all standouts, but if Jack Bower were pressing me for an answer with a gun to my kneecap, I’d have to go with Jon Foster’s Boneshaker cover. It’s a gem.

  40. Margo Eve // April 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm //

    Bonshaker is so strikingly different than the other 2 covers, I have to go with that. The other two are variations on themes I’ve seen before too many times to stand out. Not that they are bad, mind you, but they don’t draw my eye to them like Foster’s cover does.

  41. Boneshaker. no question.

  42. Boneshaker, easily, because the overall design works very well with the art.

  43. Oh definitely Boneshaker!  Love it!

  44. Gotta go with Boneshaker.  I agree with Margo: it’s so strikingly different!

  45. Boneshaker. The black and white really works in this situation.

  46. Shannon P. // April 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm //

    Foster!  Hands down.

  47. Boneshacker wins for me, because of it being unusual and the very unsaturated look, and also because of the typographic treatment (which is awful on the other two covers, specially the first one).

  48. Jon Foster— fabulous.

  49. Jon Foster’s cover is terrific.

  50. Foster’s cover is my fave—

  51. Boneshaker!

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