Cover of the Week : The Traveler In Black

I don't really have a lot to say about this book. I read part of it several years ago and don't remember much other than it is a strange fantasy story about a guy in black who travels. I love this cover though. The art is by Leo Dillon who in addition to his book cover work is known for children's books such as "Why Mosquito Buzzes In Your Ear"

Well that's all I've got for now.



Surfing Samurai Robots


That's right, Surfing Samurai Robots because I think we could all use a little levity about now.  Written by Mel Gilden, Surfing Samurai Robots is the story of a small, white alien with a large nose and an obsession with Philip Marlowe.

His name is Zoot and he lands in a future version of LA where, you guessed it, Surfing Samurai Robots are all the rage.  That's robotic samurai that surf. It's not a metaphor or a band name or anything like that.  When all the SSRs disappear it's up Zoot to find out what happened.

It's a deeply silly book as I think this, almost excessively, 90s style cover depicts quite well.  On the other hand this book is what got me to read Raymond Chandler.  So there's that.



I noticed a trend in the last couple years.  Hard science fiction novels with mostly black covers and plain white titles.  Just take a look at the covers of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, Aurora or by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Then there's the one that started it all, Existence by David Brin.

It's a new take on the first contact story.  One day a guy, who's job is basically space janitor, is cleaning up space junk when he finds a strange milky white object the size of rugby ball.  When he places his hand on it an alien hand seems to come out of the mist to touch the inside surface. 

From there it's an epic, sprawling story that takes you from the flooded slums of Asia to the artificial private islands of the 1% of the 1%. 

There is far to much in this to summarize.  There are historic, literary and pop-culture references.  From Professor Rowling from the Radagast Institute to the super-intelligent dolphins of the Uplift Project this book is full of historical and literary references, nods and puns.



What if Humanity reached the stars only to find out that we are far from the first to get there.?  Only one other species in the history of all the galaxies has made it space on their own - The Progenitors.  Since then every other species has been Uplifted by another.  The answer to the Fermi Paradox is that our entire star system was being left fallow so that new life could evolve to be Uplifted.

In addition to reaching space on our own, Humans have alsostarted Uplifting other species on our planet, Neo-dolphins and Neo-Chimps. That makes Humans quite curiosity in a society that doesn't like surprises.

This cover is very simple but helps to establish the feeling of the book.  A silver globesuspended in the fires of the sun.  Only surviving with the help of the crumbs of technology Humanity has been given.  Could life possibly exist in such a hostile environment?



The Weird of the White Wolf

Ah, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion.  To be honest I never actually read anything other than the Elric novels, and not even all of them. These books are good, old fashioned, swords and sorcery hack and slash adventure.  They are a bit unusual in that the hero of the stories isn't really so much a hero, or even an anti-hero.  He's an anemic albino kept alive by the sorcery, heir to a corrupt and decadent kingdom that he helped destroy.  In short, Elric of Melnibone is a mess.  Then there's his big black sword, Stormbringer. 

Having helped destroy his homeland Elric can no longer get the potions needed to keep him standing, now he has Stormbringer for that.  Stormbringer is a rune sword powered by Chaos that consumes the souls of it's victims to sustain Elric's strength.  Not a few of which are Elric's friends.  It may come as no surprise that Elric is a brooder.

This is one of the few vintage Elric covers I have.  Elric seems so at peace while Stormbringer sucks out the soul of his victim and feeds a portion of it to him so he might exist another day.


Something old is new

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Copyright 1984 Berkeley Books

Artwork Copyright Carl Lundgren 1979

Back in the Before-Time I used to maintain a LiveJournal.  I did a series of posts for a while that featured scans of book covers from my collection, mostly old mass market paperbacks.  I've decided it's time to start that again.

Tuesday is the day new books come out at the bookstore.  So that's the day I'm going to post the pictures.

I'm starting off with one of the oldest books in my collection.  Given to me by my parents in my early teen years.  I loved powered armor and the arachnids with holes blasted in them.  The opening scene is an amazing battle scene.  Troops being dropped onto a planet from orbit is probably one my most enduring SciFi images.  I would like to take a moment to thank John Scalzi for including it occasionally in his Old Man's War books.  In fact my first thought when reading Old Man's War was "it's like a geriatric Starship Troopers."