Sep 25

GAHH help me get them out of my head!Click for full image

Excuse me, Sir, there is a phone call for you.

Art Director: Is it ready?
Mysterious caller: It’s more glorious than you could ever imagine.
Art Director: You remembered the…
Mysterious caller: Vampire, Minotaur, Robot, Damsel, Roman man in toga with sword, Angel and death star?
Art Director: Don’t forget Saberhagen.. he must be in there to! Mu hahahahahahaaha!
Mysterious caller: MU hahahahahahahaahhahaaha
Art Director: No… only I may laugh! Mu hahahaahahahah!
Mysterious caller: ………………………

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: 8.45 out of 10)

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36 Responses to “Of Berserkers, Swords & Vampires”

  1. Roses Says:

    Sexist bastards. They missed out a busty sword-weilding Amazon.

    There’s room. Right above the robot, underneath the winged bloke.

    Is that a disco ball?

    I see…Gay Night. It all becomes clear.

    I’ll be quiet now.

  2. SI Says:

    Roses: Hahaha 😀

    Yes it so could be! Does look like a friday night at the, ‘meat factory’.

    *coughs* Not that I would know….

  3. little mi Says:

    I might be imagining this but is the golden robot like thing on the left a lady?

  4. JustinLeego Says:

    Cyberdamsel, perhaps. You’d have to read the book to find out! 😀

  5. SI Says:

    Kinda looks like she has a nun’s face though.

    CSA: was this worth the wait? Eh?!

  6. CSA Says:

    Its beautiful :'(

    Four distinctly different fonts. and a mash of randomness, dare i say its better than Jim Baen’s Universe book?
    … yes, i dare… it’s better than jim baens universe

    Its so awful, its gone full circle to be awesome again. I’d proudly read that on a train.

  7. JustinLeego Says:

    Take that back, CSA. Take it back!

  8. Karl Says:

    Is this legitimate genre fiction or the cover for a Conan O’Brien sketch? Where’s PimpBot 3000 and the Masturbating Bear?

  9. Mark V Thomas Says:

    Re: Karl’s comment
    It is legitimate genre fiction, as Mr Saberhagen has written stories where Sherlock Holmes fought Count Dracula in Victorian London, which was approved by the Conan Doyle Estate, & published as a full length novel in the U.S (although serious Holmes fans regard this story, & indeed Saberhagen’s “origin story” for Sherlock Holmes, published in Omni Magazine inthe late 1980’s as “Non-canonical” in the extreme).
    The Robot & the “Death Star” are in fact Berserker constructs, examples of a species of self replicating robots, originally believed to be a “doomsday weapon” that turned on it’s creators, & in the “Berserker Universe” are rabidly trying to destroy all biological lifeforms in the universe, as to the Berserker’s, they represent Chaos…
    (Personally, I wonder why said berserker’s in the cover, were not trying to destroy Dracula, as to them, he counts as a annoyingly persistant strain of “Badlife”…)

  10. Tom Noir Says:

    I missed this cover before. It is truly awe-inspiring in its sheer awfulness. I especially admire how after having crammed a minotaur, a vampire, a robot, a death star and a series of explosions onto the cover, they still decided they needed bright orange fonts.

    You know… to get people’s attention.

  11. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Fred Saberhagen, of Berserkers, Swords and Vampires…must be a junior partner, then…if there are Vampires, they’re solicitors…if there are Berserkers, it must be copyright court…but swords, I haven’t a clue what that’s about. Maybe the chap in the back with the sword is a paralegal?

  12. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Are you SURE this isn’t the cover to FRED SABERHAGEN OF COSPLAY…??

  13. THX 1138 Says:

    Ground floor: Perfumery, stationery, and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, berserkers, swords and vampires. Going up…

  14. Jonathan Oliver Says:

    Dude writes with a pencil. That’s just weird.

  15. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Of Money, Money & Money: A Baen Retrospective.

  16. fred Says:

    EDUCATION! Button down collar rules.

  17. THX 1138 Says:

    Isn’t a “behind you!” tag much needed here?

  18. Tag Wizard Says:

    @THX – Yes. But in some sense, all flashbacks are BEHIND YOU!

  19. Anna T. Says:

    Oh dear god i cant believe my eyes my eyes

  20. Tat Wood Says:

    What kind of second-rate vampires, minotaurs, robots and eagle-men can’t get through a dry-ice cloud at a signing?

  21. B. Chiclitz Says:

    At first glance I thought Icarus back there was being crucified.

  22. Tat Wood Says:

    @B.Chiclitz: it looks as if he’s been shot in the back by the Baen logo.

  23. JuanPaul Says:

    They all be like, “We were written by THAT guy???”

  24. Francis Boyle Says:

    It’s as if the word omnishambles was created just to describe this.

  25. GSS noob Says:

    Would BAEN! (I type it like that only because there aren’t any explosion or boob keys on my computer) go out of business if it became illegal to use orange on a book cover, or even just on a font?

  26. Tor Mented Says:

    But you have to give Saberhagen credit: He was able to write all these stories with a bent and curving pencil.

  27. Bruce A Munro Says:

    @Tor Mented: he’s just snapped his pencil in reaction to the godawful photoshop. Mind you, it’s so awful that he’s snapping his pencil years before this cover came out.

    (Perhaps we need a “peeing on the author’s grave” tag)

  28. fred Says:

    Even though he never wrote them, this cover needs a cat people.

  29. Bibliomancer Says:

    He should have put the eraser end of that pencil to more use.

  30. GSS ex-noob Says:

    This… just hasn’t gotten any better in the past 10 (!) years of GSS, has it? It seems to be on its third go-round and we’re still finding more horror in it. And not the kind of horror Fred would’ve appreciated.

    Fred was a practicing Catholic, so all I can say is: Thank God he was dead before this book came out.

    Repackaging old stuff and slapping a hideous cover with a goofy photo on it after the author rings down the curtain and joins the choir invisible seems to be an M.O. with them, doesn’t it? Seems a bit distasteful to me. Like their “art” department. And “editorial” department. And pretty much everything else.

    Considering the world view of their readers and many of the authors, one wonders what they think of this illustration of the halcyon* days of Halloween in the Castro. Heck, there aren’t even any norks front and center.

    Reaction from Mr. xn: dead silence, gobsmacked expression, slight headshake.

    *Or possibly Halcion; this does look like something you’d see after a bad drug reaction some night.

  31. A.R.Yngve Says:

    But hey — at least the Baen art department knows how to grab your attention.

    Imagine a “serious” book like, say, Margaret Atwood’s ORYX AND CRAKE, done in the style of a Baen release…

  32. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @ARY: Their head “editor”* openly admits that they don’t bother to proofread or copyedit b/c their audience simply doesn’t notice. And their audience likes font abuse, bright colors, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink illustrations, preferably with guns, cleavage, body armor and shiny Ting!

    They print with a cheaper grade of paper and ink than other publishers, charge exorbitant prices for ebook ARC’s, do a lot of cheap reprints (like this), some of which are rewritten to fit house “style” and shuffled/recombined regularly with a different ridiculous cover. I have my suspicions about their payment rates, but absolutely no data to back that up. They do pay promptly and in full, though.

    And this works for them — they keep costs down by having a very small staff of basically freelancers scattered about the US, so not much real estate costs, cheaper physical books, emphasis on ebooks, and very little distribution outside the US, even for their few good authors, like their sole multi-award-winner Lois McMaster Bujold.

    5 Hugos and 2 Nebulas, and Lois still has to fight to keep her covers nork-free — and doesn’t always succeed, as we’ve seen here. The books she has the rights reverted for, or with other publishers, have either minimalist or otherwise tasteful covers that you’d be happy to read on the bus.

    So they’re perfectly happy in their little right-wing niche, and I think they can best be summed up as:


    (if the “blink” tag still worked, I’d have used it there)

    * I put it in quotes b/c I know far more than I ever wanted to about their process, b/c years of being Worldcon attending and SMOF-adjacent,** particularly during the Puppy Kerpupple — shan’t further bore you. And what editing they do do is sort of a catch as catch can group effort, kinda sorta.

    ** Seriously, I knew George RR Martin when he had long dark hair, a short beard, no hat, and we both had many fewer pounds/kilos. I have about the same income, though, which is why I went to GRRMs fancy catered open bar party last Worldcon instead of the other way around. ***

    *** Nobody died, though there are always jokes about “Is it really a good idea to go to one of his parties? Eh, it’s not a wedding, we’re probably safe.”

  33. Tor Mented Says:

    @Biblio: Zing!

  34. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @B’mancer: Remember, Fred was dead by then and had no control over the cover. Else I’m pretty sure he’d have erased everything except his name, and provided a non-dorky photo of himself.

    That bent pencil is a very small detail, easily missed since the average viewer is either blind or wishes they were by the time they get down to it. But it’s also the sloppiest. I’m no ‘shop expert (neither was the cover maker, har har), but wouldn’t it literally have been easier to continue something in a straight line?

  35. Tor Mented Says:

    @GSSxN: I made the bent-pencil joke, but in fairness to the artist, I think it’s an illusion. Note how the bottom of the cover is not a straight line in the photo. There appear to be curves in the cover that distort the image. The pencil somewhat follows the curve at the bottom of the book.

  36. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Tor: If it’s a dust jacket and the spine’s slid around to the front, that would account for it.

    BUT! The photo on ISFDB, with no crease, shows the bend as well.

    AND! So does the paperback cover, obviously no dust jacket.

    SO! You were right the first time.

    The way the cover bends out at the bottom right makes me think it’s the paperback version. Which means we were actually lucky; if ISFDB is to be believed, the hardback cover was even more brightly colored and lurid. Yikes.

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