Monday 15 October 2007

Future Classics, No Titles

Gollancz, Britain's leading publisher of science-fiction, has recently launched the 'Future Classics' series of reprints. These are books from the last decade or so that they claim will be the SF classics of the future (the sort of books that were reprinted in Gollancz's apparently discontinued SF Masterworks series until recently).

They have taken the interesting and unusual option of releasing all of the books in the series without any identifying text on the front cover. No author name, no title, no blurb quotes. This information is relegated to the spine, leaving the covers free for simple, dramatic, 2-colour works of (mostly abstract) illustration.

Some of the titles in the series are shown here:

They are...

1. Fairyland by Paul J. McCauley: the pattern of insect wings is in laser-etched spectral reflecting foil.

2. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan: a suitable Da Vinci-anatomy cover for a novel full of biological augmentation and subversion.

3. The Separation by Chris Priest: the khaki colours, pattern and rough card cover texture match the parallel-world WWII setting of the book.

4. Blood Music by Greg Bear: the varnished blood pattern suits this story of "intelligent" nanomachine-like engineered blood molecules.

5. Evolution by Stephen Baxter: a novel which tells to story of life on Earth from the start to the finish has a machine-like illustration of an ape on the cover; in something of a first for novel cover design, the darker areas on the cover are actually furry.

6. Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan: a scattering of distant stars matches the vast distances travelled by the heroes of this story of potential universal collapse.

Not all of these books are brilliant: Richard Morgan's debut is surprisingly weak, and the Baxter is far from his best. However, the general standard of the novels is very high, and the designs are fascinating. You really need to see them in the flesh to get the full effect. Hunt them down at your local bookshop.

UPDATE: The great Dave Langford discusses these books in his excellent column in the otherwise dodgy SFX magazine, and on his website. He notes that the stars on the Egan cover glow in the dark. Huzzah!

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