A BOOK BY ITS COVERS

Cover by a famous artist, photo by a famous Pulitzer-prize winning photographer, Rocco Morabito, who happened to be a deer hunting buddy for the distinctly unfamous copy boy who wrote the novel.

The image got me thinking of books and their covers, and the old saw about judging one by its cover.

Doubleday actually sent that dust cover to me for approval back then. Publishers then seemed to take care of their authors. Ironically I only saw the finished product while wearing fatigues at mail call in a Basic Training company in Fort Gordon, GA. Talk about double vision. The book made me a real-life author. The ill-fitting fatigues and screaming drill sergeants made me a lowly puke destined to be punji-stick fodder in an ugly little war far away. It was sheer luck of the draw the Army decided to turn me into an MP and send me to Germany instead.

PAPERBACK LIBRARY EDITION, US
PANTHER PAPERBACKS, UK

THE GERMAN PAPERBACK COVER. NOT THE ALIEN PARATROOPERS I ENVISIONED. BUT CLOSER THAN ANY OTHER TREATMENT.

It was interesting to ask the internet algorithms to translate the German into English. The gist of the story was there. No way to know if the original translator had trouble, or if a clever translation was…um…lost in translation by an artificial semi-intelligence.

Bug-eyed, menacing machine; sexual bondage; ghostly faces carved in stone? What the hell were they thinking? Looks like the cover for a horror story.

If you judge a book by its cover, how do you judge the various iterations, from Manhattan to Madrid to Lithuania? The illustrations seem to have gone downhill ever since Freas. Did anybody read the damn thing before designing the cover?

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Bill Burkett

Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.