Do not judge genre by its covers

Science fiction and fantasy book cover designs are as fashion fickle as an emo kid’s dress sense, and produce the same kind of response. Like some sober-suited middle manager tutting over his son’s electric blue spiky haircut, the literary reader sees the genres’ gaudy covers and wonders how they can go out in public looking like that. Why can’t they be more like a Penguin classic, or that nice Faber poetry collection next door? Boring, says genre as it slouches out of the door to meet its friends. It wouldn’t want to be seen in public with the olds anyway. But behind the lurid illustrations hide some masterpieces of fiction.

Read more at The Guardian


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Do not judge genre by its covers

  1. Especially on the US side, though, there are some goddawful covers, more and more influenced by the design of romance covers. Sometimes these covers do a real disservice because general readers will not find or pick up a book because of them. And who can blame them?


    1. I think its a problem we are stuck Jeff, unless we can clearly define a high end of the genre market. In a way this is done by things like SF / Fantasy Masterworks and writers like yourself. But there is still much more to do I think.



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