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Book Cover Smackdown (March Military SF Edition) – “A Few Good Men” vs. “Fire Caste” vs. “Gears of War: The Slab”

March is throwing at least these three militray science fiction titles your way. Which ones do you catch and which do you let fall to the ground? You decide!

Here are the contenders…

Original trade paperback, sequel to Darkship Renegades and Darkship Thieves. The son of a ruler on Earth instigates civil war and revolution when he attempts to take the place of his assassinated father and uncovers a terrible secret that has been used to enslave humanity.
The Son Also Rises…

On a near future Earth, Good Man does not mean good at all. Instead, the term signifies a member of the ruling class, and what it takes to become a good man and to hold onto power is downright evil. Now a conspiracy hundreds of years in the making is about to be brought to light when the imprisoned son of the Good Man of Olympic Seacity escapes from his solitary confinement cell and returns to find his father assassinated.

But when Luce Keeva attempts to take hold of the reins of power, he finds that not all is as it seems, that a plot for his own imminent murder is afoot—and that a worldwide conflagration looms. It is a war of revolution, and a shadowy group known as the Sons of Liberty may prove to be Luce’s only ally in a fight to throw off an evil from the past that has enslaved humanity for generations.

Sequel to Sarah A. Hoyt’s award-winning Darkship Thieves, and Darkship Renegades, this is Book One in the Earth’s Revolution saga.

Fire Caste by Peter Fehervari Black Library)

First Black Library novel starring the mysterious alien race the tau
In the jungles of the Dolorosa Coil, a coalition of alien tau and human deserters have waged war upon the Imperium for countless years. Fresh Imperial Guard forces from the Arkhan Confederates are sent in to break the stalemate and annihilate the xenos. But greater forces are at work, and the Confederates soon find themselves broken and scattered. As they fight a desperate guerrilla war, their only hope may lie in the hands of a disgraced commissar, hell-bent on revenge.

Gears of War: The Slab by Karen Traviss (Pocket Books)

An original novel based on the groundbreaking and award-winning military sci-fi-action video game series Gears of War—written by a #1 New York Times bestselling author!
Ten years after Emergence Day, as the Locust Horde advances on humanity’s last defended area—Ephyra—in a bloody war that has seen billions die, Marcus Fenix does the unthinkable: he defies orders and abandons his post during a critical battle in a bid to rescue his father, weapons scientist Adam Fenix. But Adam is buried in the rubble during a ferocious assault on the Fenix mansion, and Ephyra falls to the enemy. Marcus, grieving for a father everyone believes is dead, is sentenced to forty years in the Coalition of Ordered Government’s brutal maximum security prison, known simply as the Slab.

But Adam is very much alive, snatched from the destruction by the elite Onyx Guard on Chairman Richard Prescott’s orders. He’s now a long way from home and in a prison of his own—a COG doomsday bunker on the tropical island of Azura, a place hidden from the rest of Sera since the Pendulum Wars. As Adam struggles to find redemption in his comfortable island jail, Marcus seeks his own atonement in the squalid, closed world within the Slab’s granite walls, finding unexpected kinship among Sera’s most dangerous criminals—and a way to carry on his personal war against the Locust.

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

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.

13 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown (March Military SF Edition) – “A Few Good Men” vs. “Fire Caste” vs. “Gears of War: The Slab”

  1. Hm. I’d say that the ‘few good men’ cover is the better of the three, due to the rather nice balance of tone and colours, and the use of iconography (character pose, flag, glorification of the handgun) to indicate the novel’s content/story tone. Now, mind, I would never buy that novel to read – becuase of said iconography, in fact – but that dopesn’t change the fact that (imo) it’s the most evocative.

    Also, fire caste’s covermachoman looks like he’s wearing an adult diaper.

  2. The better one is A few good men, it’s a nice and messy one.

    That being said, I would not touch Fire Caste at all. After what GW tried to pull with “Space Marines” I don’t want anything to do with that Franchise.

  3. Without a doubt, my favorite is the cover for The Slab. To me, it really shows a loneliness, a weariness, and a massiveness (I’ll quit now with the words of ‘state’…:-)) The quality of the artwork is really, really nice as well, and I really like the moody lighting, even if it might not be as colorful as the others. I love this cover.

  4. My favorite is the Slab. It just looks like all hope is given up and there is nothing left for him. The cover alone makes me want to read to see how he got to that point and how he is going to pull himself out.

  5. Steve Oerkfitz // February 17, 2013 at 11:46 am //

    Thye Slab is the best of the three, but I’m not likely to read any of thse. A Few Good Men is the type of cover that turns me off-looks like a slightly better version of a Baen Book.

  6. I bemoan the loss of good cover art. None of these does a thing for me, I’m afraid.

  7. The Doctor // February 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm //

    All three are terrible. And I’m not just talking about the covers. Oh well.

  8. David Greybeard // February 18, 2013 at 7:44 am //

    GEARS OF WAR takes my top pick. Sexy guns on that guy!

    With the Warhammer title a close second.

    They both make me want to read the books even though I’ve never played either game.

    Can always tell a Baen book by the horrible artwork on the cover. Well, unless it’s Eagleton. So that top book ranks last.

  9. The Slab is the best of a pretty meh trio.

  10. None of these are all that great, although The Slab is by far the best. A Few Good Men is a typical ugh Baen cover. I enjoy Gears of War and the Traviss book is actually one I might enjoy reading.

  11. I don’t get it,Baen is a successful publisher,surely they can hire competent illustrators ?

  12. I just don’t know what to say. The first cover is good, but at first I assumed that was some sort of plumage, not a tattered flag. On recognizing the flag, my brain automatically inserted Kurt Russell into the main character role and from there my brain pretty much spun it’s wheels in the mud. No immediate analogies jumped out at me regarding the other two covers. I’m afraid I blew it!

  13. In regards to Baen I have to admit that I don’t get it. I don’t understand their aesthetic. So many of their covers look the same and so many of them are not that well executed from a technical standpoint, let alone unattractive for other reasons. But then again that is just my taste, they obviously are someone’s version of a good cover since they have pretty steadily cranked out the same look for years.

    I do forgive them this, however, because I admire the commitment they have to keep authors’ work in print.

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