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Exclusive Cover Reveal and Behind-the-Scenes Look: THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT by Michael J. Martinez

The Venusian Gambit (Book 3 of the Daedalus Series) will be out in May from Michael J Martinez, and we’ve got the gorgeous new cover, as well as a behind-the-scenes look, courtesy of the author, at the book and the artwork!

Here’s the synopsis:

In the year 2135, dangerous alien life forms freed in the destruction of Saturn’s moon Enceladus are making their way towards Earth. A task force spearheaded by Lt. Cmdr. Shaila Jain is scrambling to beat them there while simultaneously trying to save crewmember Stephane Durand, who was infected during the mission to Saturn and is now controlled by a form of life intent on reopening a transdimensional rift and destroying the human race. But Jain doesn’t realize that the possessed Stephane has bigger plans, beaming critical data to other conspirators suspiciously heading not for Earth, but for Venus…

In 1809—a Napoleonic era far different from our own—the French have occupied England with their Corps Eternélle, undead soldiers risen through the darkest Alchemy. Only the actions of Lord Admiral Thomas Weatherby and the Royal Navy have kept the French contained to Earth. But the machinations of old enemies point to a bold and daring gambit: an ancient weapon, presumed lost in the jungles of Venus.

Now, Weatherby must choose whether to stay and fight to retake his homeland or pursue the French to the green planet. And Shaila must decide if it’s possible to save the man she loves, or if he must be sacrificed for the good of two dimensions. In the dark, alien jungles of Venus, humanity’s fate in both dimensions hangs in the balance—forcing past and present to once again join forces against an ancient terror.

THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT: The Evolution of a Book Cover

by Michael J Martinez

I’m really proud to unveil the cover for the third book of the Daedalus trilogy, The Venusian Gambit, right here on SF Signal. And here it is:

It’s crazy and insane and I love it.

Yes, there’s a lot going on here, so I thought I’d throw in some commentary and share with you how my editor, Cory Allyn, and I worked with artist Lauren Saint Onge to get to this final cover.

The scene depicted here is that of a major battle on Venus, as you might have guessed from the title. On the right, you see the series’ protagonist, Thomas Weatherby, leading the charge – and if you know your early 19th century uniforms, you’ll note he’s now an admiral. Trust me, he’s earned it.

On the lower left of the image is a revenant – a dead man animated by ancient alchemical power. He’s wearing a French uniform, which I think illustrates that Napoleon has been busy. On the upper left, you see a pair of bipedal lizard creatures, which are the native Venusians.

Finally, in the background, in the center, you see…something that doesn’t quite fit in the 19th century. Those familiar with the Daedalus series know that the spacefaring Napoleonic Era crosses over with a “normal” 22nd century dimension. You may safely assume this happens here.

In short, you have a battle with an English admiral, a French zombie, bipedal sentient lizards and a 22nd century mech of some kind. Yes, Night Shade Books paid me to write this, and it made me giddy.

The person charged with depicting all this was Lauren Saint Onge, who did such a fabulous job on The Enceladus Crisis last year. After reading a ten-page excerpt describing this particular battle scene from the book, she started by sketching out a number of what-goes-where ideas.

[Click to embiggen]

Here’s what she has to say about what we asked her to do: “Much like the cover of The Enceladus Crisis, the intention of The Venusian Gambit cover is to make you feel like you are entrenched in the scene with the protagonist. The general goal was to create a flow through all the forms, while making the scene physical and personal to the viewer.”

Cory and I quickly settled on the notion of Weatherby in the foreground, and from there Lauren refined it quite a bit. I really liked the use of color, which Lauren enjoyed as well.

[Click to embiggen]

[Click to embiggen]

Weatherby and the revenant were good early on, but the trick was getting the look of the mech right. Without giving too much away, it needed to have a specific set of characteristics, and I think the final design nailed them. After that, it was a matter of placing the mech in the right spot – and voila! The cover was done.

[Click to embiggen]

“In the end, it was a great opportunity to combine historical themes and a beautiful, but hostile, alien world,” Lauren says.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with how this turned out. Lauren did an amazing job and handled our feedback with good grace and alacrity, and Cory did a great job wrangling the Night Shade folks and getting the final cover elements in place. And I’m grateful to all involved for allowing me a role in developing the cover – I know most authors don’t get to do that, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

The Venusian Gambit is due out May 5, and is available for print pre-orders from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and any number of wonderful independent bookstores. (We’ll get those cover placeholders updated soon!) For more updates, you can visit my blog at and follow me on Twitter at @mikemartinez72.

1 Comment on Exclusive Cover Reveal and Behind-the-Scenes Look: THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT by Michael J. Martinez

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // January 9, 2015 at 8:47 am //

    Thanks, Mike. Excited to read this.

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