Jan 31

Space sheep, space humming bird whale... why not a horse! Away!!!Click for full image

Andrew Comments: Teddy bears in Napoleonic garb, riding on dragon-horses in space. Baen, naturally.
Published 2000

It has come to our attention that this book is comedy, which bends our rules.
We appologise, but the cover is still amazing!
– Good Show Sir

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: 7.67 out of 10)

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21 Responses to “Hokas Pokas!”

  1. JollyOrc Says:

    On the other hand, the Hokas books are really big (childish) fun.

  2. Phil Says:

    We have a winner! The only thing that would make this MORE perfect (sic) is if the claw-toed horse were both a pegasus and a centaur with recursive centaur arms. Apart from that, it’s a classic.

    (I’d be willing to forego the otherwise obligatory embossed cover, TING! and devils’ dumplings.)

  3. THX 1138 Says:

    The sequel to The Care Bears Movie takes a dramatic turn…

  4. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    I call foul. This is an acceptable cover.

    Furthermore, it violates Good Show Sir’s own policy:

    “3. No parody/wit covers will be accepted. No books that are a joke onto the genre. So no Terry Pratchett! Search out the original travesties that inspired these in-jokes instead”

    (This policy is why I have never submitted early Discworld covers, wretchedly bad though they are — frankly I think they fail even as satire.)

    This is a goofy book of goofy things, and who better than Michael Whelan to paint a gloriously goofy pastiche of David’s “Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass”.

    The cover does its job, and it is well done.

  5. Scott B Says:

    I agree with Alessandra about the art, but on the other hand my eyes are still burning from the fonts…

  6. Phil Says:

    It sounds as if Alessandra is correct, so on a technicality I am prepared to revise my opinion downwards from “Good Show, Sir!” to “Would not like to be seen reading that!”

    I can’t bring myself to say that this is “an acceptable cover” however!

  7. B. Durbin Says:

    Actually, this isn’t the original painting. The original is a full pastiche of the Napoleon painting, whereas Baen has stripped out the background in favor of a starry field.

    Oh, and the original cover was for the original book “Hoka!” so not only is it flipped & stripped, it’s re-used!

  8. fred Says:

    The exclamation point must be there in praise of the cape.

  9. Tom Noir Says:

    Whether parody or not, I submit the cover for Hokass Pokass is still atrocious.

  10. GSS Admin Says:

    Hmmm, I have to say I agree with Alessandra. This does seem to be full on comedy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a joke onto the genre. Saying that, I think it does bend the rules.

    As mentioned above the fonts are still amazing! But I’ll put a comedy note on the post.

  11. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Oh boy, this cover opens up the proverbial can of worms, in terms of art history.

    David’s original Napoleon painting was a pompous, lying piece of propaganda to begin with. It surely deserves mocking, even by Baen Books!

    So… funny, but not really mockworthy in itself.

  12. Muttley Says:

    Alessandra, when you say early Discworld covers, do you mean the Josh Kirby ones? I have to say I never got on with those either, his style, whilst very original, was rather too bizarre, in a non-Discworld-connected way.

    Paul Kidby, on the other hand, is fantastically good, and Pratchett himself says that some of his paintings match the picture that the author had in his head when he wrote it.

  13. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    “Always bet on the Hokas”…But never on the Pokas!

  14. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    @Muttley: Yes, I mean the Josh Kirby ones. I think the Paul Kidby covers are as close to perfect as you can get.

    But the Kirby covers are responsible for my not reading any Discworld books for close to fifteen years.

    See, there was a fad for humorous fantasy just when the Discworld books first came out, and I was picking up a lot to try, but most of it was just terrible. The first two Discworld books were amusing, but not outstanding (and I have never liked the character of Rincewind). So while I was weighing whether to give them another chance, I ran across what I now realise was a copy of “Pyramids,” but all I remember of it was that ghastly cover. It was so vile, I decided no, it wasn’t worth it, and moved on.

    It wasn’t until years later when “Fifth Elephant” came out that I even gave them another glance, and *that* was only for the title. It had another awful Kirby cover with grotesque caricatures as unlike the actual characters as could be.

    But I read it, and it was BRILLIANT. So I hunted up all the earlier books and discovered I had quit just as the Discworld books were hitting genius.

    Those covers were a real disservice to Terry Pratchett.

  15. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    @A. R. Yngve: If ever there was an artist who deserved to be mocked, it’s David. And if ever there was an artist with the skills to pull it off, it’s Michael Whelan.

    @B. Durbin: Thanks for the info. I noticed the picture was backwards from David’s original, but I didn’t realise it was because Baen flipped it. It also explains why the starfield is of so much lower quality than the rest of the painting.

  16. Don Hilliard Says:

    @Alessandra: While Pratchett has said many times that he prefers Kidby’s art, he’s said as many times that he enjoyed Kirby’s covers despite knowing that they’d always reflect Kirby’s vision rather than his own. (I would put the longevity of Kirby as cover artist down to the publisher, except that doesn’t account for Eric, which was originally published as an illustrated collaboration between author and artist.)

    The US editions – none of which carried Kirby’s OR Kidby’s art – have generally varied from boring to butt-ugly (including several by your OTHER favorite artist Darrell K Sweet). The most recent one, Snuff, is the first to carry the same cover as the UK edition; I think the US publisher finally realized they were losing American sales to the UK publisher via AmazonUK due to their crappy covers (and month’s publishing delay).

  17. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    @Don: Terry Pratchett is a generous and gentlemanly soul.

    I agree with you completely about the US editions of Pratchett’s books. At the risk of sounding like an unregenerate curmudgeon (but maybe I’m there already, ahem), I have gone out of my way every time a new Discworld book comes out to get the UK edition whenever possible. The American publishers never seemed to know what to do with them.

  18. Muttley Says:

    @Alessandra; – For me it was the blurb “Jerome K Jerome meets The Lord Of The Rings” on the back of “The Colour of Magic” that put me off. As you say, it was the height of the Fantasy Revival, brought on by the runaway success of Tolkien, from the unauthorised Ace paperback edition that saw Ballantine issue a 3-volume paperback, and Unwin a single-volume doorstop (without the appendices). Everybody and his dog was writing fantasy trilogies and Bad Fantasy became the default pigeonhole that most would-be SF authors now ended up in.

    e had already had the unpleasant example of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant – books that were actively unreadable, actually repelling the reader – eventually you couldn’t even pick it up and had to kick it into the bin. So the abstract cover didn’t help, and the blurb, making a desperate appeal to two disparate areas of literature, seemed to confirm that this was not to be touched.

    When I eventually picked up a library copy, I was taken. I’ll agree that Rincewind is a weak, one-note character, but what got me was the deft parodies, always respectful, and extremely entertaining, of stories that I recognised – Lankhmar, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Pern; the Cthulu mythos; and so on. I didn’t recognise the Disk as a parody of Niven’s Ringworld until later, after I had read Strata.

    The glory of Terry Pratchett is his use of the language. He’s had me helpless with laughter (Greebo, exiting Lancre Castle wrapped round the jester’s head “its a rotten job but somebody’s got to do it”) and leaking tears (the climax of Thud! where Vimes, out of his head, sweeps all before him as he stops the bigoted priests from destroying the unexpected relic that reveals the truth about Koom Valley). A master storyteller.

    Just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And we don’t here, we celebrate the covers in their awfulness.

    I have in front of me both “The Garden of Unearthly Delights” (Paper Tiger’s portfolio of Josh Kirby paintings) and “The Art of Discworld” (the Gollancz paperback with words by Pratchett around a collection of Paul Kidby’s paintings). It’s clear that Pratchett prefers Kidby’s work, and that Kirby, an established SF artist with an impressive portfolio, was a known quantity to the publisher.

  19. Lee Says:

    Whatever you say about the cover, it’s accurate to the characters. Give a Hoka a book about Napoleon and within a week he’ll be Emperor. Of course, that’ll only last until he reads a book about Robin Hood, and then he’ll go and get a bow and arrow.

  20. Fred Zimmerman Says:

    +1 to Lee for grokking the Hokas.

  21. GSS ex-noob Says:


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