Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Burton Atwoods

Nathan Burton is something of a favourite round these parts (see his work on Patricia Highsmith, Pat Barker and Edith Wharton, for example), so it was great to see his Margaret Atwood redesigns for Virago finally appearing in Australian bookshops recently. Atwood is an odd case. I like some of her work immensely, but her science-fiction (which she goes out of her way to pretend isn't science-fiction) is usually awful: it has the self-satisfied unoriginality of somebody who hasn't read anything in the genre from the last 50 years, and so thinks that their daft cliches are new and exciting.

Anyway, I'll get off my hobby horse: here are the covers.

 

(NOTE: This post originally criticised an element of Oryx and Crake that was, in fact, entirely a product of my faulty memory, and not something Atwood had actually written: my apologies!)

18 comments:

megan said...

No Handmaid's Tale?

The cover for Cat's Eye is perfect, though.

JRSM said...

In the UK/Commonwealth, a few Atwoods (Handmaid included) belong to Vintage rather than Virago, so they weren't included in this set. But 'Cat's Eye' is one of my favourites from this selection, too.

Craig D. said...

Gotta love the authors who strongly deny that their science fiction is science fiction. Reminds me of this interview with Philip K. Dick, in which he criticizes his fellow science fiction writers for having this attitude:

"[Vonnegut] discovered when, upon looking back over his career, he discovered he'd made a lot of money at some point, and at that point, retroactively, he, like the Pope, everything I say is true, and I never was writing science fiction even if you read Player Piano and you thought it was science fiction, you were wrong. And Cat's Cradle likewise. And they're not science fiction, because I say they're not science fiction."

Also reminds me of Children of Men, which I read after enjoying the movie. It didn't exactly leave me hungry for more science fiction written by 80-year-old British crime writers.

Nice covers, by the way. Favorite? Eating Fire.

C. Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I love, LOVE these covers. I love them all, but the first one is my favorite.

They're a little Art Deco, a little Erte, a little Norman Rockwell, and a even a little Boris Vallejo (minus the dragons and titties). Especially the Crawford look-alike.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

brilliant solution and color palette.

Maylin said...

Really cool and unique - I love The Blind Assassin, The Robber Bride is perfect! and The Edible Woman.

Paula said...

I didn't think that pigoons had wings... I thought they were simply pigs with human organs.

I love the surfacing cover. Very good for the book. Agreed about Cats Eye too.

August said...

Excellent covers for books you couldn't pay me to read.

Shelby Davis said...
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JRSM said...

Craig: I had no idea Vonnegut had tried to repudiate his SF-ness. That's really sad. And I'm with you on PD James--it also really bothered me that the voice in which it was written didn't make sense: the way she talks about the pop culture of the mid-late 20th century (ie the Beatles, etc) is the way PD James, 80-something-years-old, might talk NOW, but not the way the main character, who would have been a teenager in the 1960s, would talk.

Christy: Those comparisons are just right--even the Vallejo, which had not occurred to me (though there are fewer alarmingly ripple muscles, too).

Paula: I checked, and you're right about the pigoons. How embarrassing. I've fixed up the post and added an apology.

claire said...

Love these covers. I have The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace and the colours are just perfect. Am going to replace my ugly Cat's Eye cover to this pretty one, too!

Paula said...

Okay, just because I forgot earlier, I gotta throw out some Alias Grace love. That cover is sooo good and so suiting the book. Good show.

likeglass said...

I have most of these. Equally beautiful in person. Can't wait to finish out the collection.

Ben said...

I really like these covers! That is all.

To throw in a note on the discussion of Vonnegut repudiating his SF status though, it's worth noting that Philip K. Dick seemed to have issues of some kind with Vonnegut and often spoke about enjoying his early SF books but hating his later work with a passion, so his quote (as with many PKD quotes) shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value.

I don't recall ever hearing about Vonnegut himself declaring his early books weren't SF (although I could be wrong).

Mae said...

I think they're hideous. I prefer the older versions.

msw said...
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msw said...

"the self-satisfied unoriginality of somebody who hasn't read anything in the genre from the last 50 years, and so thinks that their daft cliches are new and exciting."

Nicely put. Here's Ursula Le Guin taking Jeanette Winterson to task for the same thing (with one of the least accurate headlines I've read...)

JRSM said...

Thanks, and thanks for that link. I especially like le Guin's comment that "I am bothered ... by the curious ingratitude of authors who exploit a common fund of imagery while pretending to have nothing to do with the fellow-authors who created it and left it open to all who want to use it. A little return generosity would hardly come amiss."