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It’s another Book Cover Smackdown! The theme this time around is books appearing next month that feature animals in the title.

Your mission should you decide to accept it: play art critic! Tell us what you like and dislike about these covers…what are the pros and cons of each? Which one is best? Do any of them spark your interest?

Wolves by Simon Ings (Gollancz | January 16, 2014)

The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century. Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them. A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner.

The Ape Man’s Brother by Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean | January 31, 2014))

Orphaned by a plane crash, raised in the wilds of a lost world hidden somewhere beneath a constant mist, The Big Guy and his ape-man brother from another mother are living a life of danger amongst rampaging dinosaurs, giant birds, warring ape tribes, and all manner of deadly beasts. It’s a wonderful existence for someone like The Big Guy and his furry brother, except for the flea problem. Then an expedition of explorers from the outside turn his world inside out. Or rather a very blonde beauty called The Woman does. It leads to his and his ape brother being convinced to fly to New York by zeppelin, where they become the toast of the town. They even make Hollywood movies. It seems perfect. At least until The Big Guy does something that comes quite naturally to him in the wild, but leads to public humiliation in this new found world. To make matters worse, his ape brother has grown to not only love the pampered life, meals he doesn’t have to chase down, good cigars, fine wines and statuesque women, he’s come to like the Wrong Woman.

Changes are afoot. They lead to a return to the world beneath the mist, and a deadly and unexpected encounter with a foe that is in many ways far worse than any dinosaur. Envy, jealousy, greed, fleas, and pyramids under the mist, are all part of this rollicking novella of the sort only Joe R. Lansdale could write. And don’t forget dinosaurs.

Hive Monkey by Gareth L. Powell (Solaris | January 2, 2014)

The stunning follow-up to Ack-Ac-Macaque, which featured the Spitfire pilot monkey hero of a computer game who turned out to be real. The first book was met with wide acclaim upon release.

In order to hide from his unwanted fame as the spitfire-pliot-monkey who emerged from a computer game to defeat the dangerous corporation who engineered him, the charismatic and dangerous Ack-Ack Macaque is working as a pilot on a world-circling nuclear powered Zeppelin. But when the cabin of one of his passengers is invaded by the passenger’s own dying doppelganger, our hirsute hero finds himself thrust into another race to save the world – this time from an aggressive hive mind, time-hopping saboteurs, and an army of homicidal Neanderthal assassins!

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.

4 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! WOLVES vs. THE APE MAN’S BROTHER vs. HIVE MONKEY

  1. Thi is a hard one. All of this are great covers.

    My least favorite must be ‘Hive Monkey’, although it is has a very funny and appealing illustration, composition-wise doesn’t bring a lot to the table. But non the less, it serves its purpose and brings the attention of the public.

    ‘The apes man’s brother’ has that pulp feeling that makes it very appealing. It makes you thing of an old Edgar Rice Burrough book. On the down side, even if the colors are wonderful, it may go unnoticed on the bookself.

    ‘Wolves’ is my top favorite from this smackdown. The tittle doesn’t offer a lot, but the cover compensates it with a great illustration and composition. Minimalist, but yet very atractive, very different from what you usually see in a bookstore.

  2. David Greybeard // December 21, 2013 at 8:40 am //

    I’d say the Ape Man’s Brother would be the winner based on skill of the artist alone, but the somewhat less skilled Hive Monkey noses into the lead by concept and composition. It’s a photo finish. Very close race between the two.

  3. Wolves is a really cool but subtle cover, that I think would catch someone’s eye and be interested in what I’ve got going on. Oh and holy crap, I want to read that book now. I just saw the title and picture “Wolves” initially without reading the description and was definitely not interested. However that description sounds really amazing. I’m going to have to tell my friends about that one. So talk about judging a book by its cover.

    Ape Man’s Brother although the cover is way more ridiculous than Hive Monkey. Hive Monkey you know what you’re about to get into, and has a “WE’RE DOING THIS!” vibe to it. Though Ape Mans Brother, you have the ape looking like he’s postulating like Sigmund Freud and the background feels more like a giant piece of artwork or something.

    Now I have the Planet of the Apes song that was in that episode of The Simpsons in my head.

  4. All three are excellent. I’m currently reading Ack Ack Macque but still seeing the image for Ape Man’s Brother just makes me want to dive into that world and see what is up. Ape Man’s Brother by a chimp smoking a pipe.

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