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Book Cover Smackdown! Two Hawks From Earth vs. Death of a Starship

Here are two (count ’em) awesome covers from MonkeyBrain Books.

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

Books shown here:

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.

22 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! Two Hawks From Earth vs. Death of a Starship

  1. The Farmer cover is a bit 70s-ish, isn’t it? Like some early Michael Whelan? All dynamic man in dynamic pose. With a gun! In front of the swastika! Oh noes, what will happen to the hero? * swoon * The Lake cover is more stylish but also appears, to me at least, more pretentious. Great, a starscape with a god-figure. Gee, haven’t seen that before.

    Thumbs down to both, but for different reasons. (I’m in a grumpy mood today.)

  2. Neither, actually (and sorry to say – both good writers).

    I guess I’m not philosophically aligned with the art deprtment at Monkey Brain.

    (For me) The Farmer title has a pop-cul, summer beach reading, romance-esque feel to it – as well as some kind of pseudo-egyptian tomb paintings chic going on

    The Lake title comes across as an old-time, two-color fanzine cover (a fanzine with pretentions) and strikes me as deriving from one of those circumstances where no one could figure out how to stretch the illo to the print dimensions (and still work the copy in).

    Sad to say, but I’d be leaving both of these in the store (if I was purchasing based on cover art alone).


  3. Is it just me, or does the Jay Lake book look perhaps a little too much like PYR Editor, Lou Anders?

    I have to say, that makes that cover awesome. If anyone deserved to finally get his robot body merely for how cool he is, it’s Mr. Anders.

    It actually looks like Lou Anders is the Sci-Fi Jesus who will lead us to cosmic glory. That’s awesome.

  4. Sci-Fi Jesus is somewhat thrown by this.

    He does proclaim that all the Monkeybrain novellas – Sean Williams’ Cenotaxis, Hal Duncan’s Escape from Hell, and this Jay Lake, deserve our love and support, whatever superficial resemblences one reads in to them. I love that they have a series look for the novella line, and I love even more that they are making novellas from top writers available for $9.95 (and not $35 or something), and that alone is enough to make me support the line in hopes they will do more.

    Beyond that, I love Lee Moyer’s work. His cover for Subterranean’s The Best of Michael Swanwick is outstanding.

  5. Love “Death of a Starship.” The Jesus pose is maybe a bit much, but the overall design is pretty classy, the color scheme suits the title, and there’s a solar-wind-glider thingy. Solar-wind-glider thingies = great rejoicing.

    I’m a bit confused by the “pretentious” comments. What’s the pretense? Seriousness?

  6. Sci-Fi Jesus is hilarious. Thumbs up!

    If I were to buy Death of a Starship, could I save $3 in shipping by picking the book up at Monkey Brain? That’s what I want to know. Plus I could eat lunch at Kerby Lane Cafe. Mmmm, lunch.

  7. I think the Moyer cover is spot-on, given the description of the book: WWII bomber pilot finds himself on alternate Earth.  What better cover to evoke the book’s crosstime setting ?

    As for the Shasteen cover, Lake’s book does have religious themes (again, from the book’s description) so I think the cover does a good job of including that element.

    Both books hearken back to days of sf days-gone-by.  To me, the covers reflect this, as they should.

    Plus I think the art is way cool.

  8. Well, I’m not thrilled by either, but I like the cover for Death of a Starship a little more (and not just because of the resemblence to Lou Anders).

  9. Bill Spangler // June 11, 2009 at 10:24 am //

    They’re both good covers, as far as I’m concerned, but I think Two Hawks From Earth is a little more evocative, so I’ll go with that.

  10. Anonymous // June 11, 2009 at 10:47 am //

    In my opinion its (Death of a Starship by Jay Lake (Artist: Tony Shasteen)) for the win.

    It is far harder to make good art with a muted pallette than it is to make good art with a full pallette. Tony Shasteen does an excellent job of showing deapth and dimension using a very reduced amout of colors. No easy task.

  11. I like neither.

  12. I don’t respond very well to either, sorry.  If forced to choose, i’d whine and refuse.  Neither seems to encapsulate its title and neither draws me in or intrigues me enough to make me want to read the books.  And yes, I like both writers’ works generally.

  13. Henry Covert // June 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm //

    Two Hawks from Earth for me. Oldschool pulp hero composition, but the painting, lighting and drama of the swastika backdrop sell it for me.

  14. John Small // June 11, 2009 at 1:40 pm //

    Two Hawks from Earth wins this one in my mind. The art has a distinctly pulpish flavor to it that harkens to such varied characters as Doc Savage and The Avenger to The Phantom and the Rocketeer, and seems to carry a promise of real action and adventure to be found in the reading of the book. The other, while definitely a good piece of art in and of itself, doesn’t really tell me anything about the story it is illustrating; it’s kind of bland in comparison to the Two Hawks cover.

  15. I strongly prefer (the cover art for) Death of a Starship. Two Hawks From Earth looks cliched, and verges on something I would design–which is to say it doesn’t look very designed, even though it has a few nice touches in the larger version. The art for Death of a Starship looks a touch shabbily rendered (face looks unreal in a bad way), but there’s some interesting stuff going on. Typography is also more professional looking 😉

  16. I really, really want to say the Jay Lake cover–it’s clean, it’s a COOL image, the font’s great, everything feels balanced…


    …but there is just a mad pulpy brilliance to the Two Hawks from Earth cover.  It has Nazis and ‘splosions–I am helpless before its power.  Totally the one I’d pull from the shelf to check out.


    That said, Jay’s name would probably make me check out the other one too.

  17. The swastika kind of damages the Farmer, especially in light of yesterday’s shooting.  Plus the fact that Farmer’s middle name is spelled incorrectly (without the acute accent on the é) makes me lean toward the Laké cover.

  18. Dennis Power // June 11, 2009 at 2:40 pm //

    If I had to choose a book by its cover, and pretend I knew nothing about the contents of either. I would have to say that I respond to Two Hawks From Earth on a more visceral level. It hearkens back to the old style pulp covers, where as the Last Starship cover is just an interesting picture that evokes no emotional response. I want to know more about the man standing in front of the Nazi flag, the man on a flying cross is a pop art mainstay which no longer elicits curiosity.

  19. Arthur Sippo // June 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm //

    It’s Two Hawks hands down.  I don’t know what the beef is with the swastika.  It is part of the story.  The hero is an Iroquois Indian airman who is fighting Nazis on an alternative earth. 

    Maybe they should have used this instead:




  20. I really dig the pulpy goodness of the Two Hawks book. I was raised on Doc Savage reprints, so I’m wired for that kind of thing.

  21. I’m going with Two Hawks. There’s more action in it.

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