This Cover Requires a Post

Earlier this year I reviewed China Mièville’s newest novel, Railsea. It’s a young adult styled novel that’s equal parts Moby Dick and science fiction, with giant moles, endless railways, and a cumbersome narrative voice. Published by Pan Macmillan, they just unveiled a new cover for the paperback release. Behold:


Did Baen take over Pan Macmillan? I mean stick some cleavage on the front of that train and we’re on to something! Once again, I’m annoyed with covers that sell themselves as something they’re not. This is a literary novel with some young adult trappings. It is not, an adventure yarn akin to the Hardy Boys on a train. I can’t get behind this cover, despite the fact that I think it’s awesome. And it is awesome.


Justin Landon

Justin Landon is the Overlord of Staffer's Book Review. When he's not writing things of dubious value to the world, he's at the gym or being a dad. You can follow him on a multitude of social media, which is strongly suggested lest you miss out on vital information that could someday save your life.

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  • Rob B November 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    That is an awesome cover and I bet it will draw in a lot of readers. I haven’t read the book so I can’t say how well a translation of words to images it is, but damned if I could pass it up on the shelves. Very pulpy look.

  • Jared November 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I kind of love it.

  • Stefan (Civilian-Reader) November 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    It’s the mole in the background that does it for me…

  • Scott Roche (@spiritualtramp) November 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Yeah, no question I’d by this book for my kid, if I didn’t already know that a China book would be completely unreadable by someone her age.

  • Martin November 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Wowsers. I can see what they are trying to do and I like it of itself but you are right that it totally mis-sells the book. Oh, and the three jarringly different fonts drive me nuts: Indiana Jones pulp-splash title, PanMac’s standard over-engineered Mieville and then plain vanilla for the press puff.

  • Nadine November 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    My favorite China Miéville covers are still those black ones with a very simple picture and the title in huge letters on them.
    But this one is still better than any of the Baen covers. Although it does look like a super fun, pulpy children’s adventure story.

  • Aidan from A Dribble of Ink November 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Ack! You beat me to it. This cover is amazing.

  • jennygadget November 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    The cover is very cool. The problem is that it looks like it should be the cover for a Scieszka book, or any other book for his usual target audience of 7-12 year old boys, and not the older teens who I assume are the more likely readers of Mieville’s Railsea.

    (Unless they are trying to skip the YA market and target old adults who read Heinlein juvies in their childhood? That’s the only thing that makes any sense.)

  • jennygadget November 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    er, I meant” older teens or adults who” – not “old adults.” :p

  • Biblibio November 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I don’t know, I actually think the old-school look will draw in a lot of readers. It’s a bit over-the-top, but there’s still something very attractive (and, as you say, awesome) about the cover…

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