May 14

Bilbabalbaul? I've got a cream for that. Click for full image

Stevyn Comments: I’m ashamed to say that I was the artist in this case. A terrible cover for what is possibly the worst fantasy book ever written.

And with such great lines in this book such as, ‘The effeminate albino pursed his thick lips in that certain way to suggest he was male, but homosexual.’

Read more about this on Stevyn’s website here:

Good Show Sir! Thank you for sending this in.

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.95 out of 10)

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58 Responses to “The Wayfarer Bilbabalbabul”

  1. Richard Palmer Says:

    Ahaha…the art is particularly chewy, thanks for that.

    The cover blurb is spectacularly awful, though…it reads like a parody. My favourite bit is:

    “…the citadel of mystery and foreboding…”

    What was the brief for the weird thing with the mohawk?

  2. SI Says:

    Oh just searching a bit. It was a self-published. And yea it does read like parody, I wonder if it was.

    Surely no one could write something like this seriously:
    ‘Gyral was ever vigil with shifty eyes, hand ready with sword. He then heard voices again and saw something shifting among further Orcle trunks. He just kept walking until he came to a clearing. And nothing happened.’

  3. Adam Roberts Says:

    The Wayfarer Bilbabalbabul. By Elmer Fudd.

  4. Nix Says:

    The blurb even contradicts itself, saying “It was the fabulous infamous city all outsiders feared to enter”, then implying that nobody knew where it was. How can you fear to enter a place you can’t even find?

    (Particularly a place with a name so utterly unpronounceable that you can’t even ask anyone about it without dying in a spray of phlegm…)

    I can’t even tell what the title of the book is. Is “Bilbabalbabul” a subtitle? If so, why’s it in a larger font than the title itself? Is “Bilbabalbabul” the name of the series (god forbid) and “The Wayfarer” the name of the book, or vice versa? Why am I even asking this?

    Regarding the art, I wonder if that guy’s green cloak is meant to signify magic or something? It’s plainly much too long to go anywhere in without people to hold it up off the ground for you. Also his hat is realy silly and I’m not even going to go into his utterly ridiculous steed, which I thought for a while was wearing a centurion’s helmet from Asterix, but no, that’s its actual hair… (mind you, giraffes look pretty ridiculous in real life as well. But nobody sane tries to ride them because they’re untrainable vicious bastards.)

  5. Richard Palmer Says:

    Ah, self-published. Well, there go my literary dreams.

    There was a small part of me that thought that if something so obviously lacking in self-awareness could get published, perhaps I could see my magnum opus in print too.

    I mean, imagine going to ask for that in the shop “Yes, I’d like to buy The Wayfarer Bilabbababab, Bil.., Beel… Ah, fuck it, just give me The Hobbit.”

  6. Brian B Says:

    Honestly, no sarcasm here, I like the design of the landscape in the background. Especially on the back cover, I like how his cloak sort of blends into the sloping ground and mirrors the truly alien trees. Indeed the back cover– with more landscape and less emphasis on Mr. T horse–is much, much better.

    On the other hand I’m quite flabbergasted by the line “…to suggest he was male but homosexual.” That line is so awful I can’t think of even a slightly humorous response. However a line like that would help me introduce the topic of heteronormativity to my students in a class.

  7. Brian B Says:

    “A horse is a horse, of course of course, and no one pities a fool quite like a horse unless of course that horse is the famous Mr. T.”

  8. DeadRobot Says:

    “I need a title for my new book. So far I have The Wayfarer…?”

    “How about sticking your finger in between your lips and jerking it up and down while you hum?”


  9. Parker Says:

    I’m convinced they have just left out some spaces. It’s the latest boyband ‘The Wayfarer’ with: Bil Bab Al & Babul

  10. anon Says:

    “So, what sort of illustration do you want?”
    “Robin Hood the Wizardly Elven Smurf beside his trusty ogre-headed sidekick-slash-lizard-mount called Mohawkhead”
    “No problem”

    I agree with the others, though, TRWTF is the title. Looks like the author had trouble coming up with fantasy names..

  11. James Lovegrove Says:

    Much recommended, Colgan’s book Joined-Up Thinking. Perfect bog-side material, and I mean that as a sincere compliment.

  12. anon Says:

    Is it Stevyn or Stephen?

  13. Si Says:

    And doing some stalking on Stevyn’s wiki page:

    “He has a tattoo of the Cornish flag on his right upper arm.”

    How drunk where ya for that? Sorry to Cornwall fans! I’m kidding of course.

    Although the wiki page does seem to have a strange amount of information… almost too much…

  14. Jen Says:

    I want to read this so very badly now. “From the Wolds of the West, across the seas of Lorth, came the long elf, Gyral.” Now if that isn’t a line for the ages, I don’t know what is.

    For some reason I keep picturing Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn arguing back and forth about pronouncing Bilbabalbabul. It really improves things.

  15. Brian B Says:

    According to Wikipeida–which as I am often reminded is more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica–Aaron Jones is a former American football player (that is to say American football). And since I never question the wisdom or veracity of anything I see in the internet, I’ll draw some conclusions based on this. See who says jocks can’t be fantasy dorks too?

    I know of course this is a different guy, but I love the image of some giant mound of muscle sitting in the locker room reading this book with this cover on his lap and everyone else in the locker room too afraid to make fun of him for it.

  16. Stevyn Colgan Says:

    Yes, I admit it … I was the painter. If you follow the link to my blog, the whole sorry tale is there. It’s not the sort of stuff I normally do (for obvious reasons) and the final result is a pile of pants. But I want people to read the book. I really do. It’s unintentionally hilarious – just like those no-hopers on the X Factor’ or ‘American Idol’ audition shows. The mysterious ‘Aaron’ believed in his project so much he expanded it twice and self-published it in three editions. It is absolutely not a parody or spoof but one not-terribly-good writer having a go. And hoorah for that.

    Oh, and to clear up any confusion, I am Stephen Colgan but work under the professional name of Stevyn. I played around with various nom de plumes a few years ago before settling on the current one. Stevyn and Meryk are the Cornish spellings of Stephen and Mark. As for the very detailed Wiki page, that was down to a zealous office junior at a publishers.

    Please seek out the fabulous Bilbabalbabul. You’ll laugh so hard a little bit of wee will come out.

  17. Kathleen Says:

    “he relished the damsels” is particularly disturbing.

  18. Brian B Says:

    @Stevyn: “You’ll laugh so hard a little bit of wee will come out.”

    Well hell now I HAVE to read it!

  19. e.lee Says:

    @Good Show Sir
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blogpost about horror book covers.
    I think that book cover you were referring to was indeed ‘Communion’ by Whitley Strieber- I borrowed it once and couldn’t stand to have it in the house, it still unnerves me.

  20. James Lovegrove Says:

    @e.lee: I bought that edition of Communion precisely because the cover image was so damn creepy. It sets the tone perfectly for the book itself, which is weird not so much for its content as for the fact that the author comes across as such an extraordinarily odd human being.

  21. Don Hilliard Says:

    @Kathleen: What’s wrong with a long elf (what the hell IS a “long elf?!”) coming up to you with a tray of olives, celery & pickles?

    @Brian B: From the writing style, I think “Aaron Jones” was a nom de plume for Dr Bronner.

  22. Jim Ryan Says:

    You submitted your own cover, Stevyn? Now that takes a certain amount of…

    Hmmm, what’s the right word here? “Self-awareness”? “Bravery”? “Cojones”?

    I think you see where I’m trying to go here; thanks indeed for sharing this.

  23. Bob Loblaw Says:

    The title reminds me. You should visit my blog. Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog.

  24. anon Says:

    “You’ll laugh so hard a little bit of wee will come out.”

    Bathroom reading?

  25. Mark V Thomas Says:

    Re: “The effeminate albino”
    And then Elric starts to unsheath Stormbringer, as the the description of him given above, athough physically accurate, casts a slur on his own personal sexuality, & Stormbringer fancies a quick snack of the insulter’s soul …?
    ( As for the rest of said tome, how long before quotes from it, appear on the “Throg’s Masterclass” section of Ansible…?).

  26. Dave Van Domelen Says:

    The construction of the title suggests the author intended it to be part of a series. In other words, “The Wayfarer Wharrgarbl” could have come out next.

  27. e.lee Says:

    @James Lovegrove
    Mr. Strieber does indeed come across in that manner, even in his earlier books such as ‘Wolfen”.

    But the less said the better- in case he comments on this site.

  28. szaleniec1000 Says:

    He had some surplus letter Bs he needed to offload in a hurry.

  29. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “The citadel of mystery and foreboding” is of course a better place for a fantasy character to go than the Citadel of Dashed Expectations further down the road.

  30. Mark V Thomas Says:

    Re;Last comment
    Mind you, “The Plaza Paved With Plasma” from a David Langford parody of Elric, is better then the “Citadel Of Dashed Expectations”, though not as good, though far less cliched, than the Citadel of Mystery & Foreboding…

  31. shuzumi Says:

    the cover would be ok if the horse thing didn’t have the same face as D and Dritzz’s love child

  32. Colicub Says:

    I bought a copy. A signed first edition. Due to this website alone.

    Plus, it was only about a fiver off Amazon.

  33. AikoAiko Says:

    Submitting a cover you drew is a bit like turning yourself to the cops after a particularly heinous crime. Or like going to confession. Clearly, this cover has been weighing on his conscience for quite some time now, and he wishes to be absolved of his sins.

  34. Ahab Says:

    The cover art is good, actually — surreal, with a slightly ominous background.

  35. Rags Says:

    Wait a second, green silk hat with feather in it? Long silk cloak? Pimp elf and his b+tch??

  36. FeàrofMüsic Says:

    You know, if everyone here at GSS bought a copy of this, we could quadruple it’s sales, making it the all time best seller in the genre of gay albino elf fiction. I think.

    God I hate it when I can’t sleep.

  37. Rachel J Says:

    Ah, but I’m not sure it would qualify, Fear, as I think the lip-purser is merely a secondary character. Gyral, our protagonist, apparently “relishes damsels”.

    Unless that means he *eats* them, of course…

  38. Tom Noir Says:

    The horse/pro-wrestler/thing has really bloodshot eyes.

    He needs to lay off the sauce if he’s going to be facing down effeminate albinos.

  39. A.R.Yngve Says:

    New Rule: Authors must choose book titles which readers are able to ask for in the shop.

    “Hi, I’m looking for the book ‘The Wayfarer Bul… Bi… Be…’ something.”

  40. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @AR: They instituted that rule already, after H. P. Lovecraft made it necessary. 🙂

  41. Chris S. Says:

    “Bilbabalbabul?” To paraphrase MST3K, that’s not a place – it’s a bad scrabble hand.

  42. GSS ex-noob Says:

    Isn’t there a “nonsense word” or similar tag?

    Because this is almost as bad as Hrossa Thakak! or whatever that one was.

  43. Tag Wizard Says:

    We have a “gibberish title” but I don’t think this qualifies since this is quite obviously the wizard’s place’s name.

  44. RachelJ Says:

    @Tag Wizard. “Quite obviously”… until you read the back cover and realize that “Bilbabalbabul” is in fact the name of a *place*.

  45. Tag Wizard Says:

    Yeah. That’s exactly what I said.

    OK. Gibberish it is if that makes everybody happy.

  46. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:


  47. GSS ex-noob Says:


  48. RachelJ Says:

    @Tag Wizard. Look, it’s double gibberish. “Tarra Khash: Hrossak!” might be unprounceable by human lips, but at least it’s *possible* for one to deduce (correctly) from the title that the book’s subject is a Hrossak! by the name of Tarra Khash.

    It’s the bonus grammatical and semantical inanity that makes “The Wayfarer Blibalblabulbulwhatever” *really* special.

  49. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Rachel: Exactly. One* would parse this title as the Wayfarer being named Biblbblblbbl. Not his destination.

    *or more than one, as TW and I both got this impression.

  50. Tom Noir Says:

    Tragically, the author is afflicted with dyslexia. The title should actually be THE WAYFARER LUBABLABABLIB.

  51. Tat Wood Says:

    Bilbabalbabul and Benbabalbabul, the Flower Pot Menbabalbabul.

    (Skip to about four minutes in for the full gibberishtastic Flobadob dialogue. Any Americans who want to sneer – I’ve seen ‘Kukla, Fran and Ollie’.)

  52. GSS ex-noob Says:

    Shouldn’t it be BILBABALBABULBA? If you’re going for such a ridiculous long title, at least stay with the pattern — two more letters don’t matter at that point, but symmetry is good.

  53. RachelJ Says:

    @GSS ex-noob. No. Adding that finally syllable makes the pronunciation snap into place- one can easily work out where the stresses should go. Clearly, if Mr Aaron Jones had wished to give his book a title which the reader could speak aloud without dissolving into a stuttering mess halfway through, he would have done so.

  54. Tor Mented Says:

    That all depends on who put the Bil in the Bilbabalbabul and who put that bab in the babalbabul.
    Whoever that man was, I would most surely enjoy shaking his hand.

  55. fred Says:

    In my opinion that back cover has more than a passing resemblance to Lovecraft’s ‘The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath’.

  56. JJYoyo Says:

    Does the longfaced alien ruminant qualify for the “horses with hairstyles” tag?

  57. GSS ex-noob Says:

    I think it ought to. While not a specimen of Equus caballus, it serves the same purpose, even having a saddle. And that mohawk is damn sure a hairstyle.

  58. JJYoyo Says:

    And the green-caped fellow must be Tom Bombadil’s half brother Bill Balbombadul. Or something like that.

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