Over the past few days I've been reading about the controversy surrounding the cover art for the American edition of Charles Stross' new novel, Saturn's Children. Stross is not happy with the cyber bimbo sprawled across the Yank version and after having a look at it and comparing it to the U.K. cover, I can't say I blame him.
Now, over the past few years Monsieur Stross has gained a wide readership for himself and is a true shooting star on the SF scene. He has his detractors but I think his stuff is quickly gaining the kind of devoted cult following that William Gibson earned with his early novels, Neuromancer, Count Zero, etc. He's hip, hot and one of the few recent scribes who's managed to draw the attention of younger readers (the aging demographics of the SF community is a topic for another post).
All that said, and with the impressive amount of acclaim and awards Mr. Stross has accumulated, he had fuck all input when it came to choosing and okaying his cover art. Isn't that amazing? And it isn't like his U.S. publisher is a shlock merchant, it's Penguin fucking Books fer cry-eye.
As per usual, the writer gets screwed. Penguin spent a small fortune hiring some animator from Pixar to come up with a 3-D model for the cover and I guess they were unwilling to shitcan the expense and start over from scratch. The author didn't like it, fuck him.
Again (ad nauseum), new technologies mean authors can go their own way, choose their layouts, font size, jacket copy, control every single aspect of the production of their book. For my novel So Dark the Night I chose artwork by Ado Ceric and no one was looking over my shoulder or shoving something in my face saying "take it or leave it". My book is entirely my own, from the jacket to the content. Stross doesn't have the option of telling his publisher to get stuffed, he can only complain after the fact...and then shrug his shoulders, grin and bear it.
To which I say fuck that...
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