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It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is quite simple: Tell us which of these book covers you like most.

(Dover Publications | March 18, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Featuring rare short stories published between 1880 and 1920, this original anthology spotlights a variety of important sci-fi pioneers, including Leslie F. Stone, Lilith Lorraine, and Clare Winger Harris. Imaginative scenarios include a feminist society in another dimension, the east/west division of the United States with men and women on opposite sides, a man who converts himself into a cyborg, a robot housemaid, and many others.

Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth Edited by Stephen Jones
(Titan Books | January 6, 2015 | Cover illustration artist: John Jude Palencar.)

Respected horror anthologist Stephen Jones edits this collection of 17 stories inspired by the 20th century’s master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” in which a young man goes to an isolated, desolate fishing village in Massachusetts, and finds that the entire village has interbred with strange creatures that live beneath the sea, and worship ancient gods.

Riding the Unicorn by Paul Kearney
(Solaris | October 28, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: Pye Parr)

Released in the US for the first time, this is Paul Kearney’s stunning novel of second chances in a world of battle and danger.

John Willoughby is being pulled between worlds. Or he is going mad, ‘riding the unicorn’ as his prison officer colleagues would say. It’s clear to Willoughby it must be the latter. Disappearing in the middle of his prison shift from among convicts, appearing in a makeshift medieval encampment for minutes before tumbling back to the real world, Willoughby believes his mind is simply breaking apart.

He finds no solace at home, with a wife who has grown to dislike him and a daughter who can barely hide her disgust. He’s realised he isn’t worth anyone’s time, barely even his own, and falls into drinking and violence guaranteed to bring about his downfall. Except in this other world, in this winter land of first-settlers he is a man with a purpose, a man upon whom others must rely. Persuaded to kill a King so as to save a people, Willoughby finds that in another world, with a second chance he may be the kind of man he had always wanted to be after all.

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! THE FEMININE FUTURE (Ashley) vs. WEIRDER SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH (Jones) vs. RIDING THE UNICORN (Kearney)

  1. Hmmm interesting one this time, mostly because I don’t have any interest in any of these at first glace.

    well first off I have to cut Ride the Unicorn out because the horse in the cover isn’t a unicorn, kind of a wasted image in that respect, even if the title isn’t literal the first thought that came to me was “well it says unicorn and then you don’t even make the horse on the cover one” I suppose it could be one with t’s horn in shadow or something but that just bothers me.

    As much as I love H.P. Lovecraft and the universe a ton of people have written in of his, this cover reminds me of a bad in a bad way sci-fi movie which may be the point, but it’s still lost on me. a quick glance does certainly tell you what type of book it is so for that it’s a huge plus.

    this leaves me with The Feminine Future, which I don’t particularly dislike, but I am also not drawn to it. reading the description though, it certainly made me think it was a book like described, so I think it works in that respect, and it’s very well done art.

  2. Patrick // June 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm //

    I like the cover for The Feminine Future best. It’s also, of the three books listed here, the one I would be most interested in reading as well.

  3. The Femine Future has an interesting illustration but could use more contrast and better typographic work.

    Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth is a nice cover, but has nothing very appealing or innovative. It’s just OK.

    With Riding the Unicorn I can’t be completely neutral, as I’m a big fan of Pye Parr’s work. It has a very attractive concept, composition and contrast.

  4. Matte Lozenge // June 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm //

    Riding the Unicorn might be a nice cover for one of those elegiac 1970s westerns about the end of the cowboy way of life. Sci-fi or fantasy, not so much.

    Feminine Future looks like a textbook you get assigned in a women’s studies class. All public domain including the cover art.

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