Friday, August 10, 2007

Cover Art at Sea

I haven’t blogged about cover art in a while, so I figure it’s time for another post. This installment covers a few newer and upcoming releases of cover art with scenes from the high seas – mostly sailing. Why? Well – why not I say.

First up is Red Seas Under Red Skies (author Scott Lynch) – the UK version (top) and the US version (bottom).

First, notice that this violates a very fundamental rule of cover art – that UK versions are better than their US counterparts. This is clearly not the case this time. The UK cover art with it red, white, and black isn’t really bad, but when put next to the US cover art (which is simply spectacular) it doesn’t compare. I like both – but the US version is some of the best cover art I’ve seen in a long time. I couldn’t find out who the artists for these are, so please comment if you know who the credit goes to – I’ll happily edit them in (edit - it appears the US version is by Steve Stone).

This is the cover for Set the Seas on Fire by Chris Roberson (again, I couldn’t track down the artist). This is also quite good, if a bit….old-fashioned looking. But, this is entirely appropriate for the book – it really is more a historical fiction/alternative history book than standard SFF, which makes this historical image very apt. Yet again, I applaud the cover art used here.

Here is the cover art for forthcoming Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe – the cover artist is David Grove. I haven’t yet gotten my hands on the book, but the focus on a single character at the helm of a (presumably) pirate vessel seems appropriate with Wolfe being known for strong characterization. I’m really looking forward to this book, and the cover art underscores this anticipation.

I included the covert below to put add some perspective to where SFF cover art related to the high seas has been in the past. These covers by Steven Youll of Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Trilogy definitely fall into a more traditional fantasy cover form. As I’ve said previously, this style doesn’t do much for me, but these covers really aren't too bad (they are certainly drawn very well). some are better than others, but overall I'll give thme a pass. Another plus is that they are rather true to the books.

Mad Ship cover

Ship of Destiny cover.

Ship of Magic cover


Angela/SciFiChick said...

This is the cover for Set the Seas on Fire by Chris Roberson (again, I couldn’t track down the author).

I think you mean artist? hehe

Neth said...

thanks Angela - I did mean artist

Anonymous said...


The US cover art is Steve Stone (the guy who does almost all of the UK Malazan covers among many other things).

Neth said...

Thanks, kmgrey. Where did you comeby that info?

Anonymous said...

Inside the back flap of my copy. :)

I can't recall who did the UK edition (I have that one as well) but I'll check that one sometime this evening if no one chimes in earlier.

Anonymous said...

As a Hugh Cook fan, I should point out some of his maritiem covers: my favourite, The Walrus and the Warwolf, and the US version Lords of the Sword

Neth said...

thanks for the help kmgrey - I love getting ARCs, but they don't credit the cover art that far in advance.

-Steve, Thanks, this is by no means intended be a comprehensive view of maritime cover art in SFF, just a few that jumped to mind (especially with pirates being something of a popular schtick at these days). Keep any other favorites coming.

Anonymous said...

Checked the UK edition of Red Seas- it shows a photo credit to Alamy which seems to be a huge repository of stock photography. So it looks like a designer took a stock photograph of some ships and then altered it into that image. No credit that I can find for the final visual design though.

Neth said...

thanks again

Carl V. Anderson said...

Good comparisons of good to bad. I looked at the US version of Red Seas in the bookstore the other day and you are correct, it is a beautiful cover. Not sure if it is painted or digital art, but if it is painted then that is one painting I would love to see up close. Amazing.

I too am looking forward to the Wolfe book, it looks interesting and I like the cover as well.

Good to see you back doing some cover art stuff, although I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that I agree with you 100% this time. ;) Ha!

Neth said...

I love it when people feel less than comfortable for agreeing with me :D

Carl V. Anderson said...

You know I kid in all fun, of course, Neth since it so often happens that you post covers that I actually like for your 'bad' examples. It was actually refreshing to not have to disagree with you. Just don't let it happen again! :)

Anonymous said...

It has always bothered me that the *Mad Ship* cover features a Paragon that looks like Jesus. Always.

As an aside, the Paul Kearney covers are very nice too. To round out your Sea Stories cover art.

(Jude Fischer's Fool's Gold Series also has sea-and-ships cover art, though it is not very pretty and the books are not very famous.)


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