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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘Lightspeed, Year One’ vs. ‘Hunt the Space-Witch!’ vs. ‘War in Heaven’

Hello, armchair art critics! It’s time once again for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are today’s contenders…

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

Books shown here:

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.

22 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! ‘Lightspeed, Year One’ vs. ‘Hunt the Space-Witch!’ vs. ‘War in Heaven’

  1. Hunt the Space-Witch made me laugh out loud, and not in a boy, that amuses me and I shall reward them by buying this book way.

    Lightspeed looks okay, but it’s a pretty standard magazine cover-type illustration. Doesn’t do much for me.

    I like War in Heaven because of the color and detail, so I’ll pick it. However, when I look at it Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back starts running through my head. It’s very distracting.



  2. Hunt the Space-Witch – beautiful, retro, awesome.

  3. Hunt the Space Witch. Nothing says retro SF like a purple animal woman with three immense phalluses.

  4. War in Heaven. Lots of sensawonda.

  5. Space Witch.


    YES !

  6. Hmmm, War in Heaven… now, where have I seen a cover like that before? Oh, that’s right, on a book called “War in Heaven” by David Zindell! Very curious choice. Homage maybe?

  7. War in Heaven. Depth of vision; epic, yet the colour scheme is remarkably subdued. Sense of wonder, indeed. The lettering also adds to the fascination, unlike the text on the other covers.

  8. Space Witch, because the other two are incredibly generic. And because it could be the cover of a White Zombie album.

    About the only sci-fi artists I enjoy these days are John Harris and Sparth, and they do share some distinct similarities.

  9. I can’t take that Silverberg cover seriously.  I mean…just wow.

  10. Yeah, Paul, that Silverberg is so over the top. I wonder if they’re going for humor as a selling point. I think War In Heaven is the clear winner of the three. Lightspeed’s is good but the fuzzy background is not helping draw me in like the War one does.

  11. The Silverberg cover just me want to groan. Even as a joke, it’s nothing to laught at. I like the Gavin Smith font/ typography but I’m opposed to the author’s name being that much larger than the book title. the lighting effects are nice, but the color scheme is kind of cold. In fact, the cover leaves me a little cold. I like the contrast of colors, warm and cool, in the Lightspeed Year One cover, and considering it’s a magazine, and needs to have all that typograpohy on their, the design works well. So, I guess I vote for Lighsspeed, year One. 

  12. p.s.  when are you going to add an edit button to your posts?  The above should say “just makes me want to groan.”

  13. War in Heaven is the clear winner.

    Hunt the Space Witch is just one example of why people don’t take SF seriously.

  14. I like Light Speed the best.  Love the colors and the big bold font.

    War in Heaven is very good, but just not as visually interesting compared to Light Speed.

    I don’t understand what the publishers want me to think with the Hunt the Space Witch!

  15. I’m not a fan of the Lightspeed cover, just because its so crowded.  Too much art, too much title, too many names.  BUT, with that said, the art alone told me it was Lightspeed.  That publication has done a remarkable job of establishing a visual identity and I respect the hell out of them for it.  They look like quality, always.


    Hunt the Space-Witch!  I don’t understand people saying they don’t know what to make of the cover.  Look at the art, now read the name.  It’s right there.  Nobody is being coy here, that’s pure 100% old school pulp goodness.  Now, three Rocket Phylluses blasting out of of that chick’s flaming pink nebula might seem like overkill.  But when you think about, just having say one or two would have been so 20th century.


    War in Heaven is actually my favorite cover.  It’s cool looking, its intriguing, and most of all, it feels epic.  As a book cover, I’m intrigued.  If that were a movie poster, I’d buy a tent and wait for opening night.

  16. Lightspeed‘s cover looks fine, and I like the circle in the grass mirroring the bright disk in the sky. Plus, you’re there for the authors who are arrayed at right. That’s why you’re picking it up.


    Space-Witch is cool. Truly. But I wouldn’t want to be seen with it and the image doesn’t make me want to read it.


    War in Heaven. Even if the image didn’t look like a computer game cover and even if the title weren’t annoying, you’d still have the sounds-like-it-was-backtranslated-from-the-Chinese awkwardness of “They were only the start of the killing” to convince you the book deserves only mockery.

  17. Lightspeed- To me the artwork worked better when it was a banner on the website.

    War in Heaven- Dunno, a small figure silhouetted against a larger “epic” thing in the background just doesnt seem to hit me in any way. My first thought was “I have seen that somewhere before”…

    SpaceWitch- Ahh nostalgia. Takes me back to reading old paperbacks handed down from my uncle. It is probably the only artwork of the three that might make me pick it up in the store. I dont see why everybody seems to bagging on it.

    BTW- after some checking I like the wallpaper of SW better than the cover.


  18. “Hunt the Space Witch” wins hands down.  It’s got retro love written all over it, and is about as subtle as a cover for Philip Farmer’s “Image of the Beast”.  Not only do I want this book, but I want a poster of this cover.  Then I want a time machine so I can go back to my college days and put that poster on my wall.

    The other two covers are good enough, but how can they compete against a space witch with rocket crotch?

  19. Space Witch is the clear winner, although if I’m on the market for a book of SF stories about hugging or a book just like The Matrix, I’ll think about buying the other two. 

  20. I dont see why everybody seems to bagging on it.”

    Because it’s got a woman in a bikini in it, all painted up universary and stuff. And that’s evil if you belong to a religion that says it is or are otherwise totally not a prude, don’t get you wrong…

  21. After looking around Paizo’s site some more…

    If you dont like the Space Witch, you are going to hate The Planet Killers, and The Chalice of Death


  22. Well, the cover of Planet Killers totally offends me, but that’s because it’s impossible for anybody to fart a supernova that way. Especially if she’s wearing a space jazzercise outfit. 

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