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Book Cover Smackdown! Panverse One vs. Madness of Flowers vs. The God Engines

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

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NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links…

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.

33 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! Panverse One vs. Madness of Flowers vs. The God Engines

  1. I like all the images, but Polar Bears FTW!  My vote goes to Madness of Flowers.

  2. Madness of Flowers! Saw the art hanging in Palumbo’s booth at Comic Con and have been in love with it ever since.

  3. Oh, hell, yes to the bear.  Madness of Flowers!

  4. In terms of interesteg things going on, it’s Madness of Flowers, but in terms of good composition, it’s God Engines. 

  5. All three give me warm fuzzies.

    Well, okay, God Engines gives me cold, creepy, terrible fuzzies. So it wins out. I guess you could nitpick the other two (not so hot on Panverse‘s fonts, Madness is a touch busy) but these are all nice covers that get their jobs done.

  6. This one is very close to a 3-way tie for me. I like a lot about all three: the rich colors on Panverse, the polar bear on Madness, the symmetry of Engines. Nope, I lied, it isn’t close to a tie for me, it is exactly a tie for me. So I vote for all of them.

  7. Madness of Flowers.  Firstly, it has a bear on it, and bears are very attractive animals indeed. One that’s cogent and of reasoning intelligence is even more appealing. The scene is compellingly presented by the author, the details are convincing, as far as I can tell from the book’s description the scene reflects an event within and the use of color and artistic style are compelling. I also like the typography choices on this cover.

    The Panverse One cover is interesting, but seems pretty formulaic. The God Engines cover art looks like video game illustration, which is fine for video games, but not so much for an ink-and-paper book.

  8. Chris Sycamore // October 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm //

    Man this is really a hard one!  Frankly, SF covers are often such shite that it’s a pick between the lesser of two evil robots.  All three of these covers sing.  Slight edge goes to Panverse One.

  9. I love all three of these! The God Engines wins for me, but only because I don’t like the way the Madness of Flowers picture is cut off at the top and the bottom for the author and title. Panverse One is a close third. All three are covers that would cause me to immediately take a closer look if I saw them in the store.

  10. The links to the “God Engines” cover bring up an “Error 404 – Page not found” message.

  11. Chris Hsiang // October 20, 2009 at 4:32 pm //

    Magic Polar Bears are the new Zombies! It’s gotta be the cover for Madness of Flowers for, as the kids say, the Win! David Palumbo’s illustration is beautifully colored and eye-catching. Nice use of the dwarf’s elbow to break the frame. I’d prefer less blurbage on the front cover, but in all this is my favorite of the tree.

    I will also mention that this cover for The God Engines is a big improvement over the first concept, that was just icky.

  12. Thanks, Chris.  Glad someone os checking!  Link fixed.

  13. Like the Madness cover OK, but polar bears?!? Sorry kids, already feeling trite. I vote God Engines. Something very bad is going down there and I want to read about it.

  14. The God Engines, FTW!

  15. Madness of Flowers! Colour, movement, beautiful traditional painting with a modern edge (the hands/flames). But I don’t like the maroon bands at top and bottom – for some reason that makes me expect it to be either a collection of short stories or a big floppy unwieldy trade paperback with deckle-edged pages (these connotations may be specific to me).

    Panverse One looks to me like a science textbook – I think that’s the placement of the green band.

    I like the layout of the God Engines best, but Madness of Flowers is prettier and there’s more going on.

  16. Part of what’s drawing me in to “The God Engines” is the title, but I think the illustration complements it very well. The illustration for “Madness of Flowers” is really cool, but I totally agree with Matt, it doesn’t make me want to read the book at all. And “Panverse One” is probably my least favorite of the three.

  17. Panverse one.  Guess I’m just a sucker for purty nature. 

    Next would be Madness of Flowers

  18. Joshua Corning // October 21, 2009 at 1:15 am //

    Panverse One.

    I like the color green.

    Pretty much the same reason why I read the Intergral Trees by Larry Niven…luckily the book was not half bad and is one of the few SciFi books I read before Neuromancer.

  19. The Madness of Flowers has a very delicious and vivid cover with ab excellent illustration. If it were my book, I would feel pretty pleased with the cover.

    The God Engines is certainly improved and the cover layout is smooth, but it isn’t quite hitting my sweet spot.

    The illustration for Panverse One is nice, but the vertical stripe and sideways text are killing it for me.

  20. #1 God Engines – catches the eye

    #2 Panverse One – it suggests a big story, which I like

    #3 There is no #3, as I wouldn’t touch The Maddness of Flowers because of the terrible cover.  My first thought on seeing it was, “Could they dumb it down more?”  I woudn’t even read the synopsis, as the cover turns me off.

  21. The God Engines —  c’mon, there’s a naked, puck-ish looking guy on the cover that I *have* to know what mischief he’s up to.  Yeah, there will be $20 less in my wallet to get the answer…

  22. Madness of Flowers.  More movement and interest.  The other two are too matchy-matchy and really obviously balanced.  Harder to do an eye-catching illustration that still looks right.  And I like the cover design with the arm bursting through the “wall”. 

  23. Panverse One loses immediately, because I don’t like title running up the side of the book, and it’s cover is so generic as to be boring.

    Madness of Flowers has a nice frame design, but the cover art looks like something from a Dr. Strange comic or a Role-playing game series. Tacky.

    The God Engines, isn’t a great painting, but at least the over-all cover is dark and interesting.  I have to vote for it.



  24. Sure, the Polar Bear is cute, but Vincent Chong’s cover for The God Engines is fantastic.  All of his covers for SubPress books have been wobderful.

  25. Madness of Flowers just looks fun.I would have to pick it up.The God Engines though does a good job with the title text blending in with the artwork.

  26. 1. The God Engine – because it has John Scalzi written along the bottom….. It also has fairly cool and intreguing, but if I am honest the fact its Scalzi’s new novel has me so stoked that I can’t help but be biased.

    2. Panverse –  nice artwork, but the sideways gimick just annoys me.

    3. Madness of Flowers – not to be rude but the cover looks like cheap US dime a dozen fantasy from the previous century. ‘Hey lets make it bright and croweded and have people in silly clothes and a fantasy setting and magic and polar bears and lets try and get aas many + selling points as we can squeezed onto the cover and…..’ zzz… zzzzzz…… zzzz….. zzzz…… zzzzz…… zzzzz……

  27. Definitely The God Engines

    The Panverse cover is interesting — makes you wonder where the person is going, and what happened that such modern buildings are now decrepit.  However, I agree with other reviewers that the vertical title treatment is annoying and detracts from the cover’s appeal.

    The Madness of Flowers cover gets points for bringing some of the art out onto the title and author bars, but there is just too much here to make it appealing.  The lack of focus is not just the number of items but the lack of intensity.  The polar bear has no expression, nor does the guy or the woman.  They all look blank.   Without any point of focus/emotion, there’s nothing here to entice me to pick up the book.

    The artwork on The God Engines is outstanding, but what really steals the show is the expression on the guy’s (demon’s?) face.  He’s chained, but smiling and clearly unrepentant over whatever he’s done — why?  Makes me want to know more.

  28. Have to go with the God Engines.

    The Flowers book cover is way too busy and crowded, and while the “skyscrapers succumbing to forest” image of Panverse is intriguing, combined with the annoying sidebar thing it’s too monochromatic.

    The God Engines picture, though, instantly intrigues – like, how does one go about chaining up what looks suspiciously like Loki in your basement?

  29. The God Engines does it for me.  It has a sense of urgency that compels the viewer to want to know more.   It makes me itch to get my hands on the book and dig in.  Why is he chained?  Who are the guards?  What his he thinking? 

  30. Hannah Schilperoort // October 23, 2009 at 11:51 am //

    I guess I’m just an old fashioned girl; dark towers get me every time! My vote goes to Panverse One.

  31. Nancy Wirsig McClure // October 24, 2009 at 5:44 pm //

    I vote for Panverse because landscapes always give me scope to imagine myself exploring a new place.

  32. That was fascinating, instructive, and lots of fun. Kudos to the other cover artists and designers. Thanks, John, for posting these, and to everyone who enjoyed the Panverse cover — thanks, and come on over to the website and check us out!

  33. Annalee Flower Horne // November 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm //

    MADNESS OF FLOWERS, hands-down. I like the art style, the trompe l’oil element, and the use of the solid bars to set off the text so that it doesn’t clutter or overwhelm the artwork. It’s got a classic fantasy novel feel, but with updated, modern artwork that doesn’t reek of 80’s cheese. That is one pretty book.

    While the new cover for THE GOD ENGINES is leaps better than the old one (which was so bad that even the author was cracking Gor jokes), I’ve seen too many self-published poser covers to take floating chains and flat textures seriously. I like the expression on the main figure’s face, and the patterns in the stone–I just wish it looked painted instead of rendered. Personal bias–I know the book’s going to rock anyway.

    As far as PANVERSE ONE, I’m on Team Needs More Color. It looks like a nature documentary right now. It might be the size of the image, but the building blends right into the background when I look at it.

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