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The Juice Boxes - SFF Cover of the Year (2011)

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Juice Boxes - SFF Cover of the Year (2011)

The Winner: The Magician King
Illustration by Kai and Sunny

Some people (cough A Dribble of Ink cough) do frequent posts about cover art. It's not really my bag, largely because I never get the news first. However, I too love covers. My short list for Cover of the Year is six books long (see below). There's not really a connective thread between them except that none are photo realism -- a trend I loathe. Additionally, you'll see no hooded men because hooded men are lame and tired. For authors with hooded men on your cover, I apologize. If it's any consolation, hooded men sell books.  There's no accounting for taste.

So what is my criteria? I'm so glad I asked. I have four basic tenets in evaluating cover art. First is relevancy. A cover must relate to the book. Second it has to evoke something -- wonder, mystery, fear, awe, movement, whatever. Third, I like things that are different. I'm sick of the same old covers going for the same old audience. Give me art, not RPG manual doodles. Fourth, turn me on. Physically. This is only partly a joke.

No cover met those four criteria (especially the fourth) better than Kai and Sunny's work on Lev Grossman's UK edition of The Magician King.  Beautiful use of color and imagery, with just enough relevancy to the novel without being literal.  It isn't just the best cover of 2011.  It's one of the best covers I've ever seen.


Short List:

The Unremembered by Peter Orullian
Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

The Magician King by Lev Grossman 
Illustration by Kai and Sunny

Towers of Midnight (eBook) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Seed by Rob Ziegler 
Illustration by Cody Tilson

Le Prisme Noir (The Black Prism) by Brent Weeks
Illustration by Miguel Coimbra

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
Illustration by Charles Keegan


Comments and Honorable Mentions:

I was surprised that no title from Pyr made my list.  They consistently turn out quality covers.  If I'd gone to ten books, I think a few of their titles would have made it -- especially some of the covers done by Stephan Martiniere and Jon Sullivan.  Blackdog by K.V. Johansen gets an honorable mention as well, although I felt Raymond Swanland's work on Tor's Towers of Midnight was better.  

As it turns out, MacMillian imprints (Tor, St. Martin's) had a pretty great year with three of the titles on my list.  I should make mention of two other Tor books that were my favorite science fiction covers this year: John C. Wright's Count to a Trillion (cover by John Harris) and Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief (cover by Kekai Kotaki).

It should also be noted that artists aren't the only one's who make covers.  For all the type setters, layout specialists, and art directions, cheers -- you're equally important to making these kick ass covers.  I apologize for not adding all of your names beside your work, but my GoogleFu and PublicityPester +14 skill aren't omniscient.

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Illustration by John Harris

 The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
Illustration by Kekai Kotaki

Blackdog by K.V. Johansen
Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Illustration by John Picacio

The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod
Illustration by Stephan Martiniere

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder
Illustration by Jon Sullivan


Am I wrong? What did I miss?  Set me straight Internets!


If you missed my Thanksgiving post, I explained that I'm doing a series of awards. I'm going to call them the Juice Boxes. See if you can keep up here... so there are the Hugos. My name is Justin. Put those two words together and you get Jugos. Jugo in Spanish means Juice. The Juice Awards sounds like something O.J. Simpson would bestow on someone, so I added the box. After all, who doesn't like Juice Boxes?

I'll be doing a separate post for each category with a goal of having them all done before Christmas (we'll see). My award categories are as follows:

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At December 15, 2011 at 8:59 AM , Blogger Aidan Moher said...

Terrific choice. It's my favourite cover of the year, too!

At December 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM , Blogger Mad Hatter Review said...

Seed is definitely among my top favorites this year.The Map of Time is another that impressed me as the print edition is super fancy. One that not everyone seems to love that I always find arresting is Robopocalypse. Those eyes draw me in every time.

At December 15, 2011 at 9:54 AM , Blogger Justin said...

I really liked the look of MAP OF TIME. I do think it looks quite a bit better in person too.

Robopocalypse is creepy and 1Q84 reminded me of it.

At December 15, 2011 at 11:36 AM , Anonymous Stefan said...

That Robert Jordan one is bad-ass. But, good choice for the winner.

At December 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM , Anonymous Michelle said...

For a minute I was worried it would be the other edition of 'The Magician King' but no, this cover is definitely one of my favorites as well! :)
I also agree that Map of Time looks great in person.


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