News Ticker

Book Cover Smackdown (The Peter F. Hamilton Edition)! ‘The Evolutionary Void’ vs. ‘Pandora’s Star’ vs. ‘Judas Unchained’

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why. (Yes, you’re job is more complicated given the diptych of the first 2.)

Books shown here:

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links, caught by the ever-vigilant Walker of Worlds

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.

14 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown (The Peter F. Hamilton Edition)! ‘The Evolutionary Void’ vs. ‘Pandora’s Star’ vs. ‘Judas Unchained’

  1. Are they marketing Hamilton as MilSF now?

    I gave up on Pandora’s Star pretty quickly but I don’t remember there being much fighting in it.  Third one looks pretty good but then those kind of SFnal landscapes always hit the spot.

  2. The Evolutionary Void gets the win here.  It has a good mix of color and the dichotomy of a spaceship over a less industrialized civilization is nice.


    While the cover to Pandora’s Star pops, it looks more like a cover for a book by Robert Buettner or John Scalzi.

  3. Hamilton usually features some military action in his books, but not enough to categorise the books as military SF. As such, the covers for the COMMONWEALTH books look very misleading (especially as the military action that does happen right at the end of PANDORA takes place in a rural area on a planet).

    EVOLUTIONARY wins out here. If you’ve read the first two books, the fact that the city is apparently in ruins is somewhat ominous as well.

  4. @Jonathan:  Fwiw, I believe these are UK covers.  Agreed on the landscapes hitting the spot.

    @Rob: Interesting that associate a particular artist’s style with an author…but yeah, I can see that perspective.

    @Adam: Agreed that they’re s a bit misleading given the content.  Are the other Hamilton covers better, do you think?


    @Jonathan: Pandora’s Star stars off slow, but the intro of the alien is one of the most detailed and chilling things I’ve ever read.


  6. None of these covers really tell you what the books are about. The Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained are egregious–a wormhole would have improved either or both.


    So, Evolutionary Void wins by default.

  7. Mark Stephenson // March 2, 2010 at 4:30 pm //

    The Evolutionary Void, definitely.  Nice color tones, action, scope.

    Then again, it probably appeals to me at my most primal science fictional level, which goes something like this:

    • Walk into bookstore.
    • Go to SF section.
    • Look for new books.
    • Find new books.
    • Look for book with pretty picture of spaceship on cover.
    • SF book must have pretty picture of spaceship on cover.
    • Buy it.
    • Even if it sucks, at least is has pretty picture of spaceship on cover.

    Am I really that superficial?  Yeah, lots of times.  Fortunately for me, lots of good writers end up with books that have pretty pictures of spaceships on cover.



  8. Dino Mascolo // March 3, 2010 at 12:06 am //

    Judas Unchained. Love the ship.

  9. Dawfydd // March 3, 2010 at 1:31 am //

    Not entirely sure why they chose to change to these covers for Pandoras Star & Judas Unchained, as they A) have almost no relation to what happens in the books, and B) the original covers were far more striking whilst featuring elements that appeared in the books.

    Definately prefer the cover for Evolutionary Void, as it is both distinctive and retains the feel of the previous hamilton covers.

    As far as Hamilton being a military SF author, I’d say that Fallen Dragon is his most obviously military book, but he tends to feature noteworthy sequences of combat in all of his books. Just not sure on those two covers in particular…


  10. Meh.  None of these seem particularly good.  The first two look like screencaps from a video game cut scene.  “The Evolutionary Void” has more interesting artwork, but is thrown off track by having a big blurb of text right in the middle of the image.  Perhaps it’s a subjective thing for me, but I don’t see the point in commissioning a cover artist if you’re going to plonk the title and author credit right in the heart of the painting. 

    If I had to choose one, I’d choose “Judas Star”, only so I could call the job done and go make a sandwich.


  11. While I am a huge Hamilton fan, I agree with much of what is said here: the Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained giove the impression of them being military SF, and they’re not. I much prefer Jim Burns’ originals, here and here.

    I do really like the Evolutionary Void cover that shows a Makkathran after everyone has left. Not quite what I imagined, but very nice and it fits in nicely with the previous covers of the series.

  12. Mike Hanna // March 3, 2010 at 9:13 am //

    Those nonsensical covers for Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained are completely out of character with what the books are actually about. Helicopter gunships and colonial space marines might be in them in fleeting glimpses where a background situation is being described but have no real consequence to the storyline. When I first saw them I was kind of hoping that these were yankified versions of the books (sorry Yanks – generally your covers are crap) but they are UK release covers, that don’t fit the story at all.

    Evolutionary Void is a great cover. I’ve been directed here from the Walker of Worlds site where there are conversations raging about what the planet is (and that’s been confirmed), who’s in the space craft, and who’s in the boat at the bottom of the picture, and they fit with the story. For the other two no-one has even thought about what planet it is, who the bloke is, whicch ship is that cos they are pants and just don’t fit.

    And Evolutionary Void’s got a pretty picture of a space ship

  13. I suspect, not many readers chose an SF book because of a spaceship picture on the front. Fortunately Peter Hamilton’s reputation is based on his brilliant imagination, the sense of wonder he creates and the internal congruity of his stories.

    Just as well, because the new covers for Pandora’s Star & Judas Unchained do nothing for his books, are not in the same league as the Jim Burns covers. As others have commented, they actually give a misleading impression of the Commonwealth Saga.

    So while The Evolutionary Void cover is not quite how I imagined Makkathran, it wins by default.


  14. Shouldn’t the cover reflect the story within? In that case, the one that should win would be The Evolutionary Void.

    I am a huge Peter Hamilton fan, and love Judas Unchained/Pandora’s Star.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: