Monday, July 11, 2011

Silly Fantasy Novel Covers

No matter how honed the prose, deep the plot, or enticing the characters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels tend to have ridiculous cover artwork. I was an English Major. I read—or sometimes skimmed—many books of a high pedigree, and tackled novels with stolid, leather covers, or books with the monochromatic look of "classics". The more color on the front, the more kitschy the artistic flourish, the less quality the literature, right? It's too bad that some of my favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors make just that mistake, or suffer the poor judgment of their publishers. Take Orson Scott Card, who, more than likely, had nothing to do with this doozy:

What's going on here?

If you've never read a book from this series, and merely gravitated towards the auspiciously oiled bosom of said Conan look-alike, then you probably found your mind tailspinning into a bawdy cloud of images, part erotic, part magical, wholly ridiculous, and strangely entertaining. Somewhere, somehow, visual media like this was—and continues to be—produced. God help me, I get a kick out of it. That is why I went to my local bookstore the other day and bought four Fantasy novels from this six-book series by Orson Scott Card. Which reminds me: Orson Scott Card is one of the most prolific and talented Sci-Fi/Fantasy novelists of our time, and also an eloquent proponent of why literature keeps us human. To wit:

"The elitists are such boneheads they think literature exists to be admired. Wrong. Literature exists to create memories so true and important that we allow them to become part of ourselves, shaping our future actions because we remember that once someone we admired did this, and someone we hated and feared did that.

Literature matters only to the degree that it shapes and changes human behavior by making the audience wish to be better because they read it.

It becomes importantly bad only to the degree that it entices the audience to revel in actions and memories that debase the culture that embraces it.

Next to that, questions of how one literary work influences other literary works, or how the manner of writing measures up to the tastes of some elite group are so trivial that you marvel that someone who went to college could ever think they mattered more."

Orson Scott Card, July 29, 2007, "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything"


Anonymous said...

The first quote about creating memories is spot on. Loved it. The cover-- well, maybe it's to rope me in, so I can find out if the character can fly, balance on one toe at great heights, etc.

Unknown said...

Fantasy Truism #26: The best ones have the worst covers. As a rule, I distrust a fantasy book with good cover art.

Orson Scott Card himself has been famously quoted as saying, "BITCH I WROTE ENDER'S GAME! DO YOU THINK I DON'T GET HIT ON BY ENOUGH HOT NERDS? WHY THE @$%# WOULD I NEED GOOD COVER ART?!" -Orson Scott Card