Thursday, August 21, 2008

Books By Their Covers

The other day I went to the Borders at Madison Square Garden to pick up some novels to read in North Carolina. I intended to get another crime novel (because they're the juice for me right now) and a science fiction or fantasy novel for a change of pace. Immediately I picked up Songs of Innocence, Richard Aleas's sequel to Little Girl Lost, which floored me by how good it was. But as I walked the SF/F section, I simply couldn't pick one. Their covers all looked the same. or rather, they looked three different ways:

1) Hard SF: Big technology, maybe in orbit over a planet.

2) High fantasy: Serious-looking people in impractical armor.

3) Contemporary urban fantasy: Sexy women with half their faces showing.

I don't know much in the way of current SF writers -- and even less about fantasy writers. I know enough to know that I don't want to support Orson Scott Card, no matter how good Ender's Game is supposed to be. I thought I read a Dan Simmons book years ago (a vampire novel called Children of the Night, I believe), and nearly picked up Ilium, because it was one of the few covers that attracted me and I'm a mythology geek. But it was crazy long, and it looks like it has a sequel, and... I'm tired.

So I walked around the Lit section for a while, nearly picking up Possession and Lonesome Dove (which again was longer than I'm looking for, simply because I'm still harboring the illusion of reading Ulysses). But eventually I returned to crime.

And picked up Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, unquestionably something I'll enjoy. But I was really hoping for something a little more out there. If only the covers in the SF section had a bit more panache, I might have gotten it.



Rob S. said...

I just realized, about The Thin Man: there's a sexy woman with half-face! It's a contemporary urban fantasy after all!

ElNaco said...

I'm reading the heck out of Philip K Dick novels right now. Each one has been a pleasure- and they are relatively short. --Dan Simmons' Hyperion is an excellent novel in itself but you'll want to read the others in the series for sure- and that is a major life investment.

Greg! said...

Did I give you Simmons' Children of the Night? I read it and remember enjoying it, so I may well have...

Rob S. said...

I'm pretty sure you did; it turns out that at first I was confusing it with Barbara Hambly's nifty Those Who Hunt the Night, which I think you also gave me. But I enjoyed both.

tim m said...

There's a bookstore in my neighborhood that specializes in these pulp thrillers called Kayo Books:
I especially like their tagline: "Is that a paperback book in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

Rob S. said...

Oh, that's awesome. I'll check 'em out --thanks for the heads-up!