Top Ten Tuesday: out of this world cover art

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. Today we’re talking cover art – and I’m celebrating spacescapes.

It was tricky picking a topic this week. I’ve previously disclosed some of my favourite book covers, as well as what books I bought because of their cover. I was sorely tempted to return to the theme of fonts today, or to celebrate the work of the man whose art has probably sold more books to me than any other single person (Geoff Taylor).

But instead I thought I’d break new ground (shocker) and delight your eyes (hopefully) with a particular flavour of eye candy that never fails to grab my attention and gets me to check out the back of a book: a good spacescape. Having chucked a heap of favourites into a mood board, it’s pretty damn clear I have a weakness for certain elements.

Yes, peep some light around a celestial body and I am HERE to read your blurb (or host your SciFiMonth – my favourite motif snuck in to our banners last year). If I’m honest, I think half the appeal is the haze and the fake lens flare on the dark field. The cover of The Hydrogen Sonata adds symmetry; I could stare at it for hours. For bonus points, though, add in a spacecraft… so I adore the covers of the Embers of War trilogy by Gareth L Powell and the Children duology by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

There’s no harm making the spacecraft the heroes, either. I’m less predictable here: I have a soft spot for space stations (I haven’t even read Places in the Darkness, but that cover makes me consider it every time), and there’s no harm in simplicity (Revenger‘s monochrome and Velocity Weapon‘s literal sketch stand out). But I would have said I didn’t like action / combat shots – until I look at the fantastical design of the targets on the first two volumes of Machineries of Empire. I have no idea whose side the hedgehog ship is on, but it’s beautiful. There’s even room in this category for the occasional classic artwork – yes, the font on The Stars Like Dust is a joy, but look at its spacecraft’s trajectory. It’s so… heroic? Determined?

On the other hand, a human figure depicted against the void can be pretty spectacular too. I’ve long been a fan of the monochrome simplicity of the original covers for James Smythe’s Anomaly books (Matt Richards – The Echo), and I love the UK cover art for Ancestral Night for much the same reasons. The Voidwitch novellas are very different in style, but just as arresting – Mars Xi’s fragility and power shine through (and having looked at his portfolio, Tommy Arnold is rapidly catapulting onto the list of my favourite cover artists).


  • Embers of War – Julia Lloyd
  • The Hydrogen Sonata – Lauren Panepinto
  • Places In The Darkness – Steve Stone (artwork), Charlotte Stroomer (design)
  • Velocity Weapon – Sparth (illustrations), Lauren Panepinto (design)
  • Machineries of Empire – Chris Moore
  • The Stars Like Dust – Whitney Bender
  • Voidwitch – Tommy Arnold
  • Ancestral Night – Tomas Almeida
  • The Echo – Matt Richards (illustrations), Kate Gaughran (design), Dom Forbes (art direction)

Sadly I have been unable to track down the artists / cover designers for Children of Time / Children of Ruin (Pan MacMillan), Revenger (Gollancz) or The Explorer (HarperVoyager).

Do you have any favourite spacescapes to share?