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Book Cover Smackdown! Terminal World vs. The Alchemy of Stone

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Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why. Go!

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NOTE: Click on the book images or title links to access bigger & better versions of the cover art…

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.

16 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! Terminal World vs. The Alchemy of Stone

  1. Terminal World wins it for me – lovely colors, and the up close is really nice artwork – but it still bugs me to no end when the author’s name is so much more prominent than the title of the book.


    The doll-like face of the robot in The Alchemy of Stone bothers me a bit.

  2. The Alchemy of Stone is so creepy it’s gotta win. And ravens always make a cover better.

  3. There is no doubt that Terminal World has a lovely cover, but this one’s a hands down win for Alchemy of Stone. 

    The thing about the Terminal World cover is I feel I’ve seen it before.  It may be better executed here in many other places, but the “cool vehicle heading towards cool city” thing has been done. 

    The Alchemy of Stone cover is striking in its freshness (fitting considering the book).  There’s a great air of melancholy and mystery to it.  And, yes, there is something awesomely sinister about that raven.

  4. Alchemy of Stone wins it for me. I couldn’t even find the title for Terminal World for a few moments, which is more than enough for me to loose interest in the book. Plus the author’s name is so overwhelming I found it hard to focus on the image.

    Alchemy of Stone, on the other hand, has a nice balance between the title, author name and image. Plus I love the broken down doll/robot and it’s different enough that I want to see what the story is about. I agree with Johnathon that the cover of Terminal World seems like something I’ve seen too many times before.

    Ok, so I just went back and looked at the link for the Terminal World cover, and I must say that as a painting it is amazing. I love the different colors on the city (and I might have to use it as my wallpaper for a while). However, on the cover you can’t see the detail necessary to understand the beauty of this image, and as a cover it doesn’t work, especially when paired with the overpowering author name.

  5. They’re both very, very strong covers. The first of these side-by-side comparisons where I didn’t have a clear favorite. Both have well chosen palettes, intriguing subject matter and clear, well composed typography.

    I’d be inclined to pick up both on the strength of their covers!

    A tie!

  6. You mean “Alastair Reynolds” isn’t the title of the book ?  😉


    Neither cover grabs me or induces me to buy the book.

  7. Alchemy of Stone. The contrast of the title and the image (not of a stone) makes me wonder, which might make me pick it up.

  8. Terminal World, though I think the title should be bigger than the author’s name…  But airships are awesome.

    And doll faces are creepy, though I like the color scheme and the raven.

  9. Dennis S. // May 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm //

    The Terminal World cover is a bit cluttered, isn’t it? The airships just.. I don’t know. I like the cover, especially the colors, but don’t love it. (The concept of the book is so very cool though and I love Reynolds).


    I love the art (and the colors) for The Alchemy of Stone but the size of the title font annoys me quite a bit.


    I’m not sure I think any of these covers really speak to me, but I’m on a mission here, and the winner is:


    The Alchemy of Stone.


    (Can’t wait for ‘steampunk’ ala Reynolds though)






  10. Alchemy of Stone wins for me. Terminal Worlds is beautiful as a piece of art, but as a cover it just screams “generic sci-fi cover.” I’d pick it up because I read sci-fi, but it wouldn’t be because the cover drew me in. I also really don’t link the font of the author’s name. Alchemy of Stone, on the other hand, promises something original and thought-provoking. I have no idea from the cover what it is going to be about, but I really want to find out.

  11. Both covers are wins for me but I sense that Mr Reynolds is probably starting to get bigger than his books, judging by the font size on his cover…? Can I say that, when I see this starting to happen, I wonder about the quality of the book. It’s as though the publisher is saying, “Look it’s a [whomever]! You don’t need to know what it’s about. It’s a [whomever]!! Just buy the damn thing already.” Rachel (above) will probably agree with me on this, but does anyone else get the same impression?

    I do want both covers as wallpaper though!

  12. The font used for Alchemy of Stone is wonderful! Does anyone know anything about it?



  13. Kaz, I do agree with you.

  14. I like the Alchemy of Stone and I agree with those who’ve said the author’s name should never be larger than the title.  It’s quite offputting to me, especially if I’ve never heard of the author.  Makes me take on the old condescending voice: What, am I supposed to know you?  Of course, I understand the design rarely involves the author.

  15. weyland yutani // May 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm //

    I am very much looking forward to Terminal World, but would agree that, even though it’s nice art, as a cover it seems a bit cluttered.  I’d love to see what other concepts they might have come up with.  Becausethe novel supposedly adds some steampunk to Reynolds usual storytelling, it might have been a nice change to see the art go in a different direction.    A closer look into the city would have been nice.  Show us some punk.  

    I’m not a fan of the practice, but Reynolds’ track record of goodness sort-of justifies marketing his name on the cover.  If it was a first novel, yeah, a little overkill, but less informed people need to know who the rockstars are.

    The Alchemy of Stone is the winner here.  It’s a very nice take on the main character.  Unique to look at and posed in a very interesting way.  I’d prefer some more muted tones for the atmosphere of the novel, but the colorful cover does make it look a lot more accessible.  I liked the old cover, but this one is an improvement.

  16. euphrosyne // May 31, 2009 at 11:12 am //

    I like the original cover of Alchemy, which fit the mood of the story perfectly. This cover doesn’t really have anything to do with the story, and I find the over-accentuated buttocks to be rather creepy (not to mention that the character doesn’t even have buttocks as such…). But I guess robot ass sells better than sensualized heart keyholes; more’s the pity.

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