Monday, 27 September 2010

Cover Art - 'Surface Detail' (Iain M. Banks)

Sometimes I'm sure that publishers look at a book, that they'll be releasing, and think to themselves, 'Everyone knows who this writer is, he must be one of the most popular ones on our books. Lets not go too crazy on the ol' cover art, people are going to buy it anyway....'
Check out the cover of Iain M. Banks' 'Surface Detail' for example,

It's not often that I come across a cover that's quite as bland as this one. The only things I can make out about the story, from this cover, is that it involves a planet with the sun shining off it and a woman with eyes. I'm sure Banks has woven a decent tale involving these two ingredients but a first look at the cover left me thinking that 'Surface Detail' is only one of many sci-fi books where the sun rises over a planet and there's a woman with eyes... The only thing that really leaps out is the author's name; it's 'Iain M. Banks' and that's what will sell the book at the end of the day.

A look at the blurb though tells a different story...

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture. Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual. With the assistance of one of its most powerful - and arguably deranged - warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on. A war - brutal, far-reaching - is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead, and it's about to erupt into reality. It started in the realm of the Real and that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the centre of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

Now that's more like it! While I don't know if I'll get round to reading 'Suface Detail' ('insert usual excuse about my life here...') my interest was certainly piqued by a blurb that really makes the book stand out as something that could only have been written by Iain M. Banks. Shame you can't say the same thing about the cover really. Makes you wonder why they bothered with cover art at all, I'm sure just as many copies would have been sold if they'd just stuck the title and the author's name on the front of the book...

7 comments:

Niall Alexander said...

A woman with eyes? Never! :D

Graeme Flory said...

Mad isn't it? What will they think of next...

Cara said...

I think I need to get this book, because as you said, the blurb was better than the cover art, actually it seems intriguing.

Sharon said...

I think that if the artist blanked out the face and left just the eyes, it would be more intriguing. The heavy nose is not attractive. Also needs a little more spacy, swirly stuff below.

Anonymous said...

have to disagree, as a graphic designer the colours have clearly been chosen to sit with the other culture novels on the shelf well, the eyes are intriguing, its really well balance and has a nice feel to it. Its not the most original idea admittedly but as an overall piece of artwork it is really nice, especially in the flesh rather than on screen due to the vibrant colour.

Jonas Hansen said...

Just finished reading it - it was very interesting, but.. its hard scifi - nuff said!

MaZoNK said...

Didn't anyone notice the Mandelbrot fractals in the eyes and on the skin? Doesn't anyone know any maths these days?