Oct 30


In advance of Good Show Sir’s 1,000th legit SF/Fantasy book cover post due early November, we invite you to submit your personal Best of the Best for consideration.

Submit your nominations in the comments below, via Facebook, Tweet @goodshowsir, lift our email from the submissions page, and tell us why Your Best is your best.

Where to find these preapproved examples of artistic and commercial madness?

Use the site’s Top Rated sidebar, surf its tags like an athlete of the web, scroll Facebook’s timeline, or point Google’s terrible Eye of Sauron upon our humble domain; roll a dice, contact your friendly neighborhood wizard, ask a convenience store owner or a parliamentary aide – do what you must to unearth those mind-searing gems once more.

See you on the other side.

First published Oct 17

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: 7.83 out of 10)

67 Responses to “The Pre-1000: What’s your Best of Good Show Sir?”

  1. Bibliomancer Says:

    If I found myself on Cover One Thousand I would just wanna pick up my banjo-gun-guitar and give our a big space-cat-person roar! Rx IS Chaos!

    Or anything else by Baen. They should get a lifetime achievement medal of some kind.

  2. SI Says:

    I agree with Bibliomancer…. how can any cover (apart from I Sing the Body Electric) beat this:

    But if we tried… here’s one I had forgot all about:

    I hear rumours that’s actually the Tag Wizard on there!

  3. Bibliomancer Says:

    @SI — But you have to admit that Baen’s Universe #1 has a whole lot more righteous crapola on the cover.

    It needs to be re-scanned at the highest possible resolution. It’s like peering into the atom. The deeper you look the more things you find.

  4. Bibliomancer Says:

    And here it is:

  5. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    I am moved to tears. Like sitting on a champagne bottle.

  6. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    This is a true story.

    If you travel through Houston (Texas)’s airport, you will see a bookseller’s. They have a reading room, surrounded on three sides by panels of glass, in which you can sit & read & act as a living advert.

    As a scientific experiment, I sat and read John Ringo’s Yellow Eyes for fifteen minutes, and then I sat and read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow for fifteen minutes. I would look up at the end of every paragraph, glance around, and see who was staring at me.

    With Ringo, 3 strange looks. With Pynchon, zero. QED.

  7. THX 1138 Says:

    I must admit I’m still fond of the aghast Wally Gator on Clash of the Star Kings…

  8. fearofmusic Says:

    i am thinking baen is the best and very excellent and baen covers are never bad and they are very important and should be number one. thank you.

  9. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Bibliomancer—there is just so much I don’t want to see on that cover. . . .

    @FoM—Baens is so much best and excellent that only a New York Times Best Selling Author can even edit them!

  10. fearofmusic Says:

    [email protected]:yes the very smart and good people who are making baen books know very much what is good and best for us to be reading. rabbit is good rabbit is wise. thank you.

  11. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Hard to decide… there’s so much fail to choose from…!

    But the arse-face Viking is pretty unique — few editors would have the balls (cheeks?) to let such an obvious thing pass:

    And THE FETCH cover wins, hands down, for Most Bizarre Art Of All Time:

    And I appreciate the more subtle stupidity that comes only with experience, when an already bad cover is topped with a “FREE COUPON” badge (it might as well have read “I give up”):

  12. Jaouad Says:

    For cover number 1000, might I suggest a guest post by Flint or Weber, or anyone else connected to Baen? They have such a special place in our hearts, after all.

  13. Phil Says:

    While I stand by I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC as the all-time great, I’d like to nominate HUMAN for a special award: best recursive use of the beloved “behind you!”:

  14. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @Jaouad: Have you noticed that the same cover has been suggested/seen by more than one person? I think that they should post the cover that has been most nominated over the years.

    @FoM: Yöü dröppëd yöür dîäcrétìcs. Make sure they stay where they belong.

  15. Lulu Says:

    @Bibliomancer/@DeadStuffWithBigTeeth – re: Baen’s Universe #1 – moved to tears indeed. I might keep the tab open so I can continue marveling at it throughout the day. Provided my eyes don’t start bleeding.

    ‘Rx is chaos’ makes me laugh the hardest though, so I second the motion towards that one.

    Then there’s the one that hooked me on good show sir to begin with:

  16. fearofmusic Says:

    @ďęądșťűffwíťhbíğťęéťh:i am sorry i will strive to do better. thank you.

  17. GSS Admin Says:

    @Dead Stuff – Where you thinking about a particular cover yourself, or was that a question?

    For those curious, the most hits (i.e. linked off from other sites) we have got for covers has been these two, most likely to do with their craziness:

    Other suggestions. Space Sheep? 🙂

    And I do have a personal love for this one:

    Just because of the conversation that went on in the book shop as I bought it.

    Cashier: WOW this is an amazing cover!
    Me: I know, actually that’s kinda why I am buying it.
    Cashier: *chuckles* You should start a website or something and post stuff like this to it.
    Me: I already have….
    Cashier: *silence*
    Me: *walks out of store in complete silence*

  18. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paperback
    They slither wildly as they slip across Jim Ba-en’s Universe
    Grinning dinos, speeder bikes are drifting on the cover art
    Distracting and confusing me…
    Hey, let’s go and change the font…

    Images of muscled folk which stare before me with a million eyes
    They call me out and judge in Jim Ba-en’s Universe
    Who designed this like some kind of mishmash or suarè?
    I’m going blind here as they make their way across the cover art
    Hey, let’s go and change the font…

    Jim is smiling (maybe gas) and staring back with lidded eyes
    Inciting and annoying me…
    Limitless undying love which adds up to a bottom line in black
    It rides me for a profit in Jim Ba-en’s Universe
    Hey, let’s go and change the font..l

  19. Rags Says:

    Oh God, those covers bring tears. BAEN is the greatest publishing house ever, the amount of unintentional laughter they have brought into my life is priceless. I can’t say thank you enough to the fantastic people at BAEN!

    The one that hooked me on this site, was this gem:

    I swear I was giggling for days, and sometimes people would ask me “what’s so funny?” as I was laughing just thinking about that white butt and the “WAZZ UP??” snake.

    I agree with my fellow posters, as I lean towards the outrageously funny covers, so:

    Those are my top 3, with “Body Electric” a close 4th.

    Let’s not forget the runaway funny comments on:

  20. Bibliomancer Says:

    @Rags — For “Doom that Came to Sarnath” fans there was even going to be a board game, Unfortunately the grifter who started it stole all the kickstarter money.

    @Lulu — West of January also made me laugh for days. First for the ridiculous cover and then for the unending hilarious comments.

    And speaking of comments. I still laugh at Yoss’s “For maximum enjoyment, I’m just going to assume that ship is full of cat people.” from another favorite cover:


    @Dead Stuff — Excellent. Much more personally meaningful lyrics than the Beatles version!

  21. L.B. Says:

    Yeah, I’d have to go with The Fetch as well for Top spot, though if you want creepiest face, I’d go with
    On to 1000!

  22. B. Chiclitz Says:

    I guess for sheer outrageous enigma, with over-the-top-boobs (that actually look defiant) to boot, Glory Road has to get a mention.

  23. Tat Wood Says:

    I’ve been looking through the files and finding a few that, because the one posted the following day was such a humdinger, seem to have been overlooked. These all deserve another moment in the sun before we plough on to the second thousand.

    War on Terra

    A name a bit like Julian May – if we make the font a bit similar people buying it in a hurry might pick it up

    David-Webber-and-John-Ringo No!

    Epsilon is for people who can’t afford Byzantium

    Phew what a Scortia

    Nice one Sybil



    Banksie and a Mandrill

    Boe Selecta

    But for the optimum combination of point-missing, ineptitude, what-were-they-thinking-ness and making sure nobody ever buys the book, my favourite (at least today) has to be

  24. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @GSS: Well, er, I notice in the comments sometimes a person will say, ‘oh, that’s been on my shelf for years, and I never got round to sending it in.’

    And I wondered, with so many eyes open, what were the odds that (say) six people sent in the same cover? Perhaps you were saving that cover for number 1000.

    Er, just a thought, really.

  25. Rachel J Says:

    Decisions, decisions…
    Well, my absolute favourite is “The Second Experiment”, but as that’s already been nominated, I’d like to suggest:
    Perhaps the Baen-est cover ever. Besides, it will probably sell quite well.
    No, wait, *this* is the Baen-est cover ever. (Has been known to induce furry-ness in susceptible viewers, so caution is advised.)
    Apparently the novel within is *just as good* as the cover…

    And finally:
    Important winner of the important Golden Boomerang award!

  26. FeârofMüsiç Says:

    All right then. I, posessing naught but a weaksauce bit of a laptop, can not do this, but perhaps oh great and splendid Bibliomancer, you might. A vision, yes a vision says I, to celebrate this historic momentous thing here. A sort of slide show, but one married(in a obviously unholy ceremony) with music. What music say I? How about ‘Nemesis’ by Shriekback? Just listen to it and tell me you don’t start seeing the covers in your mind. Really, c’mon now. These lyrics:

    “We feel like Greeks, we feel like Romans,
    Centaurs and monkeys,
    Just crashed around us,
    We drink elixirs, that we refine,
    From the juices of the dying,
    We are not monsters, we’re moral people,
    And yet we have, the strength to do this,
    This is the splendor of our(GSS’s) achievement,
    Call in the airstrike, with a poison kiss..

    (Everybody sing together now!)

    Priests and Cannibals.,
    Prehistoric Animals,
    Everybody happy as the dead(stuff with big teeth) come home!
    Big Black Nemesid,
    No one move a muscle as the dead(stuff with big teeth) come home..

    How bad it gets, you can’t imagine,
    the burning wax, the breath of reptiles,
    God is not mocked, he knows our business..

    I think you sorta get the idea. It’s like MADE to be the GSS theme song man.

  27. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @RachelJ: in support of your ‘Baen-est cover ever’ belief, let me point out: that NONE of the other Man-Kzin Wars covers has appeared since Breast of All Possible graced this site.

    @FoM: Thrilled to see you back in diacritical form. 🙂

  28. Tom Noir Says:

    Don’t forget about Dracula’s Brood, quite possibly the most ineptly drawn vampire cover of all time:

  29. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    I’d forgotten how bad the cover to Meanwhile was…er, how bad was the cover to Meanwhile? Anyhoooo, mankini.

    @FoM: I’ve yet to find a better song than yours, though I admit I’ve looked about a bit.

  30. FeârofMüsiç Says:

    @DeadStuffWithBigTeeth :Aye and it’s a catchy bit of tune too. I play it loudly while dancing like a loon in torn cammies waving a sword and blaster while visions of Baen, Moorcock, and Sturgeon flash throug my head.

    Perhaps that’s sharing a bit more than necessary.

    Oh well.

    Turn up the stereo Gertrude, my body feels electric!

  31. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    …although ever since I listened to it on YouTube ™, GoogleAds ™ has assumed that I’m:

    1. a single American (?) Evangelical Christian gent in his early 20s who is interested in pursuing further education;

    2. a promiscuous fashion-conscious plus-sized lady; and/or

    3. a Latino male (?) interested in car insurance and, possibly, a car to go with it.

    Any explanation? Cordially, yrs,

  32. FêàrofMüsïc Says:

    @DeadStuffWithBigTeeth :Come on now, sing with Gertrude and I!

    Next verse, not like the first!

    “Cover him up, I think we’re finished,
    “You know it’s never, been so exotic,
    “But I don’t, our dreams are visions,
    “We could still end up, with the great big fishes,

    (Everyone now, let’s hear it)

    “Priests and Cannibals,
    “Prehistoric Animals,
    “Everybody happy as the dead(stuff with big teeth) come home!
    Big Black Nemesis,
    “No one move a muscle as the dead (stuff with big teeth) come home!

    Much thanks for inspiration and insanity owed to “Nemesis”by Shriekback.

  33. FêàrofMüsïc Says:

    @DeadStuffWithBigTeeth : Wait, you’re not.. oh my. I’m sorry, Gertrude would like you to leave now.

  34. Bibliomancer Says:

    @GSS Admin — Please remove the new ‘Random Terrible Cover’ feature from the website. I can’t stop clicking on it and I already waste way too much time at Good Show Sir.

    And it brought back the suppressed memory of this cover:

  35. Tom Noir Says:

    This site has so many brilliant submissions. I can’t imagine narrowing them all down to just one.

    I humbly submit that their should be award categories, including the following:

    – Ugliest Space Suit
    – Best Cat People
    – Best Gratuitous Nudity
    – Most Inappropriate (for covers that have nothing to do with their book)
    – Most WTF

  36. Tom Noir Says:

    Some more categories:

    – Best photographic cover
    – Worst font problems
    – Worst drawing or illustration

  37. Tag Wizard Says:

    – Best category

  38. FeârofMüsiç Says:

    @GSS Admin: Ahh what a fiendish thing you have created in the Random Terrible Cover Generator. I see I am not the only one who must… check… just… one… more… cover. Can’t… stop… clicking… on… covers.

    I feel like the Mancunian Candidate.
    “GSS is good. GSS is my friend. Must anathematize all those that oppose GSS…

  39. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Then, there was the time we helped society by bringing a plagiarist to the attention of the original artist. So, from a humanitarian perspective, the best of GSS.

  40. RachelJ Says:

    What about “Worst blurb/cover quote”?

  41. Bibliomancer Says:

    @RachelJ — “I think … this is one of the … [stupidest] … cover blurbs”:

  42. Rachel J Says:

    @Bibliomancer. Oh, that’s in a class by itself, alright.

    Still, here are my poor offerings:
    So what, exactly, *were* they expecting?
    (It’s Howling Time! In brackets!)
    “And most of all, I’d like to thank my co-writer, Fluffy….”
    Well, *did* he?
    “Immortal wars and human confusions.” Yep. Sounds magical, all right.
    Could? Could could could?
    Space barbarianism!

  43. Stevie T Says:

    My number one pick is still “Body Electric”. Not only did it scare me off from reading it once, but even long after I had forgotten the cover, I still had this lingering mental block that there was something inherently wrong with that story, but I couldn’t tell you what or why. It wasn’t until I discovered this website that I realized what had put me off it in the first place. Since I first came across it when I was 14, and I am now considerably older, that was some long-term effect for a BAD cover.

  44. Stevie T Says:

    I’m definitely with Tom Noir on the idea of awards categories. One I’ve thought of that definitely needs to be added is the “Freudian Slip” Award.

    My nominees are:

    The Bronze Medal:

    The Silver Medal:

    The Gold Medal:

  45. Scott B Says:

    Hmm, for overall “favorite” cover I find it very hard to beat “I Sing the Body Electric”. But for five others that come close I’ll go with:

    “Clash of Star-Kings”

    “Quest of Three Worlds” (which, disclosure, I submitted)

    “The Second Experiment”

    “In the Den of the Dragon”

    “Possible Tomorrows”

  46. Tag Wizard Says:

    Awards categories rule! Perhaps we could do something a little more structured for a 5 year anniversary, March 2014?

    But by all means, feel free to keep creating and nominating category exemplars!

  47. Rachel J Says:

    How about the Silliest Outfit Award?
    For example:

    Or the Tongue-twister Title Award?

    And for Ugliest Spacesuit:

  48. Bibliomancer Says:

    @RachelJ –Ugliest spacesuit? I got your ugliest spacesuit right here:

  49. B. Chiclitz Says:

    Don’t you see we’re trapped like Mars flies in a Klein bottle? It’s an infinite loop, one which will eventually return us to where we began (i.e. I Sing the Body Electric). The list form, as a genre, fails before the cosmic background radiation from which there is no exit. Face it kids, there is no “best”—of anything.

    It’s all the best
    on GSS!!

  50. HappyBookwyrm Says:

    I agree that finding a “best cover” fails at the first step of the “information problem framework” i.e. defining the task. I love GSS, though, so I’m going to list these entries on the completely un-objective premise of “making me laugh so hard that people looked at me weird in the computer lab.”

    Honorable mention: A call to Arms
    I don’t know why the art direction is hilarious to me: “I want it to look like West Side Story in space, only make most of the Jets werewolf people with absurdly large guns.”

    Bronze: Clash of the Star Kings
    No stars. No kings. Just 100% alligator weirdness.

    Silver: Human? – I need to read this book…

    ***Gold*** Quest of the Three Worlds
    This picture is worth 2000 words. No more are necessary.

  51. Stevie T Says:

    I know it’s a little late, but maybe we could find some authors out there who would be willing to post some of their own publisher-inflicted awful covers and comment on how they dealt with it. I know a few authors have in the past, it might be cool if the 1000th was as well.

  52. Tag Wizard Says:

    Hey Stevie, that’s a great idea — and not just because saying that because I had it too… well, OK, maybe it is, but great wizardly minds think alike, eh, Stevie Thaumaturge?

    The two of us are super busy with non-GSS stuff at the moment but that is something we’d love to incorporate for a more structured 5 Year Anni in March.

  53. Stevie T Says:

    @Tag Wizard–*gasp* You–Guessed my True Name! How could you…*gurgle* power…leaving body…*gasp*….



  54. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    *checks Stevie’s pulse*

    *checks Stevie’s teeth*


  55. Stevie T's Ghost Says:

    But I shall now forever haunt your website in the form of a catman playing a space guitar! Or…shooting a space gun…or…well, whatever, anyways: MWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!

  56. B. Chiclitz Says:

    Geez, I miss Stevie T already . . . .

  57. GSS Admin Says:

    Stevie? Stevie… STEVVVVVVIEEE… actually he’s really starting to smell. How long has he been laying there for? And what’s that ghost doing here! Either buy something or get back in your body!

  58. Bibliomancer Says:

    @GSS Admin – Cover number 1000 was expected to arrive in early November. Are we there yet? When can we now expect this joyous event?

  59. GSS Admin Says:

    @Bibliomancer – SSSSSShhhhhhh… Don’t point out our clear failure! It’s been a bit delayed via us being really really busy. But I would be watching out next week! 😉

  60. Bibliomancer Says:

    @GSS Admin – But, but, but … that means our Cover #1000 has already slipped by without fanfare. Which penny dreadful was it??? Don’t make me start counting!

  61. GSS Admin Says:

    @Bibliomancer – No! We haven’t hit 1000 yet! Because we’re lazy! I mean.. the Tag Wizard is lazy… yeah… blame him…

  62. Bibliomancer Says:

    @GSS Admin – Ha! Throwing the Tag Wizard under the double-decker bus. Why don’t you just blame the server. Put up that fake “Technical Difficulties” post with the Cray computer picture. Say the server ate Cover #1000 and we went right from #999 to #1001. And it was so unfortunate because it was really, really awesome!

  63. B. Chiclitz Says:

    I blame the ghost of Stevie T. The Ghost in the Machine.

  64. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    I’m in the save boat as @Rags with The Hunters of the Red Moon:

    I also was hooked to this site because of that cover. I found myself giggling at work for a few days. Every time I got bored I would go to that bookmarked page and have myself a laugh. There have been covers where the comments alone have had me in stitches, but I have not found another book, that on the cover’s merit alone, has provided me with as much enjoyment. 🙂

  65. Tag Wizard Says:

    Quite right, #Cover1K would indeed have been early November were it not for those unfortunate outages. I can assure you from the bottom of my magical hat, the One True 1K Recap has not passed us by. It’s soon. Very soon.

    Post text amended with a garish red strikethrough because that’s the default and no-one wants to upset server ferret Sauron at this delicate time.

    In the meanwhile, try not to get that excited over the weekend. I mean, it’s good, but it’s no Time Spike. Then again… what is?

  66. Tag Wizard Says:

    …although, what if the terrible book cover category counter can’t handle four digits? Calamitous.

  67. Bibliomancer Says:

    The suspense is building for the long-promised Big March 2014 Gala 5th Anniversary Spectacular the powers at Good Show Sir have planned for us all.


    — guest edited by Eric Flint?
    — a Hoot von Zitzewitz retrospective?
    — sells its valuable URL to a Chinese web media conglomerate?
    — a Harlan Ellison lawsuit?

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