Fear and the French

I’ve gone back and posted a coda at the end of Wednesday’s fear and religion entry; the recent hysteria at Republican rallies is chillingly consistent with Oxley et al‘s findings that Conservative=Fearful. But let’s move on to fear and horror of a more existential sort, the kind you might find in the shadow of a black supergiant half a half lightyear into the Oort:


These are a couple of cover concept sketches for the upcoming French translation of Blindsight (tentatively scheduled for release in April 2009). The artist goes by the name Sparth: whether that’s a Christian name, a surname, or merely an online handle I do not know, but I really like the work (more of which can be found here). I’m tending more to the green iteration, since it conveys a greater sense of creepy dread and alien surveillance. OTOH, Theseus looks especially beautiful in the blue treatment.

Enjoy. The illos are, of course, also archived in the Gallery for easy long-term access.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Friday October 10 2008at 07:10 pm , filed under writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

7 Responses to “Fear and the French”

  1. I’m gonna vote for the blue version, as the blue suggests Rayleigh scattering in the gas giant’s atmosphere. The “green” gas giant just isn’t very realistic, and I thought the diamond-hard realism of Blindsight needs a cover to do it justice.

    I LOVE the cover for the copy that I have–with Rorschach being this hard-to-see conglomeration of jags and angles and spikes. Positively creepy.

  2. Sparth is his online handle, he’s pretty well known among online art communities.

  3. I vote blue, too. There’s greater detail, and a better sense of motion.

    Oh, and Mr. Ashby and I had a whole long conversation about Chelsea and Siri before I got to brush my teeth, last night. (He’s been reading the book while away on business.)

  4. The one on the right looks like an inverted version of the lady-djinn’s bottle/domicile in the 60’s TV show, “I Dream of Jeanie.” It even has escaping wisps of gas, the matter phase she reverted to in order to leave her little house.

    Therefore, I like that one better.

    Even if you hadn’t ever seen that television show, the cover on the right looks jeweled and magical, like a scepter, a magic wand, a scencer, or however you spell that mystical incense holder you swing for religious ritual, complete with escaping incense smoke.

    However you read the image, it *suggests* things, and those things are magical, mystical, and a bit feminine. The main audience for hard science fiction is male, so if you can’t with a good conscience actually have exploding stuff, a phallic ray gun, and a nearly naked women with humungous breasts on the cover, this is a dignified substitute .

    The left hand side, given the part of the ship in the foreground and the colors, looks more phallic, which is good, but it looks dead and gray and mushroom like. And not recreational mushrooms, either, just mushrooms. Not designed to put the irresistible need to BUY THIS BOOK NOW in ones head. Maybe mycologists or hungry people will get that message, but we want sci fi readers. I assume?

  5. EDIT: the left image does, if you unfocus, sort of have the phallis. But gray. Hm.

    The right image also looks like a hookah, too. If pot smokers like sci fi, I guess. If they could just fit something boob-like in there, just a suggestion in the one on the right. I keep squinting, but no. Needs more boob, and it’d be perfect.

  6. I’ve been a fan of Sparth for a while now. He was a great choice for illustrator.

    Personally, I prefer the blue one a bit more. But only marginally. Both are excellent.

  7. __Christian__ name? Come on, you of all people can do much better than that. Try… First name.