Jul 12

God, I hate these Lost story lines...Click for full image

Art Direction: We need something that really gets across the feeling of time travel. So, in other words I mean a naked gladiator takes on a Boeing 737. And by naked I just having him at some strange angle so we can’t see his bum crack or giblets. I know, I’m no fun.
Published 1980

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: 8.94 out of 10)

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45 Responses to “The Far Arena”

  1. SI Says:

    What I truely love about this cover is the gladitor isn’t actually in the arena, he’s outside. Exposing himself to public and planes.

  2. DeadRobot Says:

    That’s a great way to confuse the crap out of those body scanners at the airport.

  3. Adam Roberts Says:

    What’s with his spine? Has it been surgically removed? That’s not going to ve an advantage in the gladiatorial arena, now, is it.

  4. SophaLoaf Says:

    Time is such a prankster…leaving him naked and fighting but then switching the time on him again where the tourists shield their children’s eyes from the weird creep wearing only a helmet and wielding a sword.

  5. Tommi Says:

    Does he have a small sword because he’s got a huge member to compensate for? If so where does he keep it in situations like that?

  6. Tommi Says:

    And by the way:

    Any gladiator, naked or otherwise, would be shocked to see an airplane emerging from a poster of the colosseum! Image you come out of the bathroom with just your helmet on and BANG! … that huge thing flies out of your bedroom wall decoration …

  7. Brian B Says:

    Huh I didn’t notice until I read Tommi’s comment, but it does seem odd to me that the airplane’s nose breaks through the “frame” while the wings are cut off. I suppose that is intended to be ARTSY!

  8. Kathleen Says:

    from the blurb it sounds like it’s the airplane that has gone back in time. I have news for it – it may not be equipped for battle, but it’s going to win.

  9. e.lee Says:

    Ryanair’s navigation goes from bad to worse…

  10. Anita Says:

    Is it me or is his tush yellow? At first I thought it was a gladiator in yellow spandex shorts (time travel fashion is so hard to predict) but it could be some odd kind of war paint? “Kiss my yellow buttcheeks, you basterds!”

  11. H Says:

    Actually the blurb’s just really badly written – I’ve read the book, the gladiator wakes up after being frozen in ice for 3000 years. Then he falls in love with a nun. As you do.

  12. SophaLoaf Says:

    H, That is hilarious. I’m so glad you could make ‘sense’ of the cover.

  13. Nix Says:

    Frozen for 3000 years… so, uh, they have 737s in the 31st century? What is this, Battlefield Earth?

    (that reminds me, I should submit the Battlefield Earth cover, it’s appalling, though not as bad as what’s inside.)

  14. Larry Craig Says:

    This is the best book I’ve ever read! I take it to all the airport bathrooms I visit.

  15. Nix Says:

    Because I have no life and am bored and forced indoors by exploding hay fever I thought I might as well give my reasoning for that 31st century date. My only assumption is that this guy was a Roman gladiator (although they generally wore more clothing: he’s got a gladius, but nothing else. Perhaps he was a secutor, and shields and clothing, er, fell off in the ice. Ice? For three thousand years, in a city in Italy? WTF?)

    The absolute earliest this guy could possibly have emerged, if he was frozen for 3000 years, is the year 2247 (3000 AUC). However, as it is unlikely that this gladiator was frozen in ice in the year Rome was founded, and gladiatorial games didn’t really get going for some centuries, we can assume it was considerably later. If we interpret the cover to mean that he at some point fought in the Flavian Amphitheatre (as it was then), he must have been frozen after 80AD, which places his unfreezing as at least 3080AD.

    Hence, the 31st century. QED. And I am overthinking this.

  16. Nix Says:

    Actually, on closer inspection I see he has a helmet looking like a thinner version of certain late-Empire cavalry helmets. A very strange thing for a gladiator to use. So he kept his helmet, gladius and muscles, but not shield, clothing, or spine. Most peculiar.

  17. Jen Says:

    Pretty sure the cover actually says 2000 years, so that might change the calculations a bit.

    Other than that, I’m speechless. Absolutely speechless.

  18. Nix Says:

    OK, so that means he’s rising sometime between 1247 and 2080, most likely later than that. I didn’t think they’d be running 737s in the 22nd century, but airframes last for ages…

  19. SI Says:

    Nix. You defiantly win the best use of wasted time award. Like the paradox there? ๐Ÿ™‚

    And why when people are frozen in books and movies does it result in everything but death?

  20. Mark V Thomas Says:

    Re:Si’s comment
    It’s definitely a case of “Buck Rogers syndrome” here, though to be accurate & fair, he was not frozen…

  21. anon Says:

    “And why when people are frozen in books and movies does it result in everything but death?”

    Because the most obvious consquence would result in an embarrasingly short book?

  22. SI Says:

    Anon> No! What you are saying is that one should sacrifice artistic merit for entertainment. Otherwise what is known as, George Lucasing your work!

    I am of course kidding, but how could we twist the frozen in ice plot device… he could be frozen… no wait.. maybe the PLANE could be frozen. And everyone awakes in future where they are hunted on a game show, run by clones of nicholas cage!. You know what that spells? MONEY! I think I have found the idea for my next novel. And by next, I clearly mean first!

  23. Matt Smith Says:

    This is one of the best books you will ever read. So quit staring at the cover and give it a shot! Really, the guy has a totally unique writing style, and the book makes some very penetrating observations about the state of modern civilisation. One of my favourite books for sure, it is one of those books you just keep thinking back on after you have read it.

  24. Dennis Says:

    Yup. What Matt said.

    It’s fantasy – and perhaps off a century or two – yet still a great read.

  25. Nix Says:

    Quit staring at the cover? What do you think this site is *for* if not using misreadings of really bad covers to give us an excuse to learn something about ancient Rome?

    (OK, OK, and mocking mercilessly.)

    Showing knowledge of the actual contents of the book is a bit of a faux pas here. I feel mildly ashamed whenever I do it.

  26. Dennis (no, not that one) Says:


    OK, so I agree with Dennis (the other one). And Matt.

    I’ve read this several times since 1978, when it was first published. Brilliant book, but yes the cover is cruddy. Then again, it was designed in the 70’s and was great at the time, captured the imagination of those of us who grew up with “Empire Made” on clothing labels; the globe/Atlas had lots of pink bits that showed The Empire and half the cinemas in the country were named….well, you can guess!

    Seriously, get a copy and read it. You really will have the best read in years, and surprisingly accurate in a lot of the factual parts (well, so far as we know, 2000 years on!)

  27. Dan Egnew Says:

    I’ve read this book. It was excellent. My copy does not have this image on the cover. It is an extremely fleeting thing that sort of doesn’t even happen in the book, not in the way this image portrays.

  28. Anna T. Says:

    That is a photograph of an airplane inserted into a painting of a gladiator and a coliseum. That alone makes it look somewhat off.

  29. GSS noob Says:

    I’ve read it, too, and probably still have the copy, though mine had a different cover. My mother wouldn’t have bought me this one! My copy had this cover

    When bad covers happen to good books.

    Whoever took this photo should have bought it — it’s worth ridiculous amounts of money nowadays, evidently.

  30. fred Says:

    Emperor to gladiator – Thumb down.
    Gladiator to emperor – Bum up.

  31. THX 1139 Says:

    Good opportunity to break wind, because nobody would hear it.

  32. NomadUK Says:

    ‘You bring this network’s ratings down, Flavius, and we’ll do a special on you!’

  33. Tor Mented Says:

    At least heโ€™s wearing a facemask.

  34. B. Chiclitz Says:

    You’d think he’d be *equipped* for just about any battle.

  35. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “By Jupiter… people wear clothes in this era? How decadent!”

  36. Tat Wood Says:

    It’s clear that he’s in some kind of theme-park, where people from 4020 can look at time-travellers from the early 21st Century in their native habitat. It’s researched as diligently as that Disney park that had an ‘authentic’ Cotswold village with Pearly King and Queen, or the Paris Exhibition of 1900 or the White City bash of 1924. Once the Naked Gladiator has defeated Billy the Kid he gets to fight people on a package holiday to Torremolinos.

  37. Bruce A Munro Says:

    “Today’s theme at the Colosseum is Naked Gladiators vs. Lions in Fancy Dress.”
    “Man, they’re really running out of ideas, aren’t they?”

  38. THX 1139 Says:

    @Bruce: It could be a revealing variation on The Masked Singer.

  39. GSS ex-noob Says:

    I remain grateful that the original cover was this one

    so that I could read it on the bus. Why 2 years later, this madness happened, I don’t know. It’s a good book.

    @Tat: obviously this happened in “Futureworld”, as seen in the sequel to “Westworld” (the movie) that nobody’s actually seen lately. It had a Roman world.

  40. Francis Boyle Says:

    For some reason, I’ve just realised that the Village People would have been so much better if they’d bothered to include a naked gladiator.

  41. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @FB: The mind boggles at the possibility of extra moves in the YMCA dance.

    Outwith certain clubs, he’d have needed a leather jockstrap in public, but you’re right, it would have made the group even better.

  42. Francis Boyle Says:

    And now ‘Naked Gladiators (in Leather Jockstraps)’ is my new favourite bad band name. Ta.

  43. GSS ex-noob Says:

    I dunno, Francis, that sounds more like an album title to me. Either way, you wouldn’t have seen it on BBC1 in 1980, and there wasn’t a Channel 4.

    The Village People were of course in modern-day costume. Now I’m wondering what a historically-costumed VP would have been like. Keep the cowboy, add the jockstrap gladiator, put the sailor in a pirate outfit, maybe a knight instead of a soldier, leave the Native American?

  44. Tat Wood Says:

    Definitely a band name and definitely on BBC television, but over on BBC2 in 1975 (first eight minutes, culminating in the legendary Stan Fitch)
    On BBC1 in 1980 Naked Gladiators in Leather Jockstraps would have been Nigel Lithgoe’s latest dance-troupe on ‘Summertime Special’.

  45. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Tat: Nige would have given them a goofier, less-literal name.

    And this is too tame for RWT. Maybe just a link, a la “and now for something completely different”.

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