Mar 4, 2010

Covering Covers: Gardner Dozois's Year's Best SF 27th Annual Collection

Cover Artist: Unknown

This is the first time I've seen the cover of the 27th edition of Gardner Dozois's yearly best SF collection and I must say I'm a little disappointed. It screams 70s/80s SF and the early days of computer rendered images. The bright purple doesn't do it any favors either. I do however appreciate the text continuity. Thinking on this, I pulled the last few of Dozois's collections off the shelf. Here are their covers:

Looking back on it, I don't really care for 3 of these 4 covers. The 24th collection, in green, is fantastic. The 26th, in light blue, reminds me of something out of the 70s and the 25th, in red, has a somewhat of a steampunk vibe. I also think that the 24th collection is the only one that looks SF rather than Fantasy. I'm not sure what the driving force behind these covers is but they seem to be stuck in the past rather than representing the best of the last year of SF.

Now take a look at the covers for the last 3 volumes of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year. These books are produced by Night Shade Books's and edited by Jonathan Strahan.

While the 2nd and 4th collections have similar cover art, I think all of them are extremely strong, particularly this year's 4th Volume. The design is modern, the art is crisp, and the colors don't remind me of a nameless purple dinosaur. Maybe I don't have the proper appreciation for the history of genre art, but I find these covers superior to the art of Dozois latests efforts. I don't know the compartive art budgets for Night Shade Books and St. Martin's Griffin Press or if that is a factor but Night Shade Books definitely has a feel for SF covers. The Windup Girl, The Dread Empire Omnibuses, The Eclipse Anthologies. All Night Shade, all beautiful art.

But back to the point of this post: If you saw each of these books at the bookstore and didn't know Strahan from Dozois, which set of books would you choose?

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