Cover Art

by wjw on November 23, 2017


John Scalzi sent me the cover of the Italian edition of his novel The Collapsing Empire, which may look just a little bit familiar to you.  It uses the same piece of stock art (by Innovari) that I used for my own editions, ebook and paperback, of Angel Station.

Furthermore, I know of at least one other ebook that’s using that piece of art.

51bwlrksh9LAnd recently friend of the blog Etaoin Shrdlu pointed me in the direction of this cover, which might also look just a little familiar.

In fact the estimable Etaoin suggested that, in addition to inventing the genres of Sword and Singularity along with Rogues and Rogering, I’ve invented the genre of “novels with covers copycatting WJW’s VotW reissue”.  (I know of at least two.)

So what’s going on?

As I mentioned, this is stock art.  You can find stock art (along with stock photos, design elements, video, and animations) on many web sites,  downloadable for a small fee, for non-exclusive use.  I can use the art, and so can anyone else who pays the fee.  Rather than sell a piece of art once, the artist hopes to sell it many times and make a larger profit. Which makes good financial sense, particularly if you’ve created a piece of art useful for, say, PowerPoint.  Like, y’know, the stick figure guy standing next to the question mark.

Also, you can do many variations on the same concept, and thus appeal to a wider variety of tastes.  THRSTGMTPE1975

However, this practice wasn’t invented just for the internet.  Pieces of art keep reappearing, and move across borders with regularity.  Take for example this piece, for an American reissue of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K Dick.

If you look at the art closely, you will observe a desert, blue-eyed desert dwellers, wormlike tracks in the sand, and an ornithopter.  This was in fact originally the cover for a British edition of Dune. (I once owned both editions.  I was given the Dune under strangely metaphysical circumstances, possibly by Jesus himself, in a Greek bus station, a story I may relate here if suitably inspired.)

Apparently an American editor bought the art cheap, and figured it was as illustrative of Philip K Dick’s surreal world as anything.

9783453027879And check this one out.  It’s the cover, by Jim Burns, for the German edition of Hardwired, which rather mysteriously was retitled Hardware once it crossed the Rhine.  (You’d think that if they were going to use an English word, they’d use the original.)

I was told that this was the original British art for JG Ballard’s Crash, which makes a fair amount of sense, but I couldn’t find that edition anywhere online.  What I did find was this piece of art used as a board game cover for Games Workshop.  (Look like a fun game actually.)

Art is forever, apparently.  Which, come to think of it, is pretty good news.


La Zona Tropical

by wjw on November 19, 2017

Possibly because the weekend made it clear that winter is here, I’ve decided to create and live in my own tropical zone.  Let’s start with some music!

Here’s the Oceanic band Te Vaka singing “Papa E.”

Which should not be confused with another song called “E Papa,” by Carlos Santana.


Don’t Blame the King

by wjw on November 17, 2017

IMG_1424Here we have the famous Vasa, a 64-gun ship of the line commissioned (and largely designed) by Gustavus Adolphus, which capsized and sunk after sailing something less than a mile on its maiden voyage.  It was salvaged intact in 1961, and now is permanently moored in a house built for the purpose.

You have to say that the Vasa was the largest monument to hubris until they launched the Titanic nearly 300 years later.

All the swag and ornaments would have been brightly colored, but a few centuries in the Baltic tends to fade even the brightest wooden cherub.

The wreck is enormous and impressive, but even I could see, looking at that tall, narrow stern balanced atop a tiny, shallow bilge, why the thing would topple right over.

There was a commission of inquiry afterwards, but it reached no verdict.  It turns out you can’t blame the king.


Yes This Is A Game

by wjw on November 15, 2017

640px-AC-130_TrainingSo the Kremlin released “irrefutable proof” that the US is aiding the Islamic State in Syria, by using AC-130 gunships to cover fleeing IS troops in order to use the survivors to further dastardly American objectives in the region.  (Even given the confusion and bizarre policy shifts of the US in the area, I find that one hard to swallow.)

The Russians’ irrefutable proof was a video that, it turns out, was drawn in part from a smartphone game, AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.  The rest of the proof were photos dating from 2016 showing the Iraqi Air Force attacking IS positions.

I think I know what’s going on here.  Up until last year, Russia led the world in fact-free government statements.  But the new US administration began dropping an enormous tonnage of fact-free statements on the hapless planet beginning on its first day in office, and is now number one in that category.  Russia refuses to permit a fact-free statement gap, and is now engaged in a massive escalation.

Expect more Russian statements in the near future concerning Russian ethnics’ rights in the Baltic, the Nazi menace from Ukraine, Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and Russian compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Still, so broad is the American lead in this burgeoning new industry, that the Russians will truly have their work cut out.

Photo by By Senior Airman Julianne Showalter – it’s real, folks!



by wjw on November 14, 2017



I’ve come down with the same upper-respiratory infection that I’ve had on five previous occasions over the last year.  I’m pretty well disgusted with it by now— though I know it’ll be over within a week, I can also look forward to getting it again inside the next two months.

Yes, I have an appointment with a doctor.  Thank you.

But as I’m spending my days coughing and sniveling, and hardly in the mood for social media, I thought I’d at least put up a pretty picture.  So here’s the Winter Palace as viewed from across the Neva.

The cloudscapes and seascapes were never less than magnificent.


My Favorite Season

November 10, 2017

It’s my favorite time of year.  Summer in New Mexico is too hot and I spend my days hiding under the air conditioner.  During spring a ferocious dry wind can blow for weeks, even months, sucking the moisture out of everything living.  Winter is mild, as winters go, but it’s still winter, and I’m allergic. That […]

Read the full article →


November 9, 2017

I’ve spent six of the last seven days either traveling to the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio, or attending, or traveling home.  I’m very tired now, and in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have tried quite so hard to have a good time. My reading on the trip out was Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir of […]

Read the full article →

The Next Quillifer Contest

November 4, 2017

So . . . where am I  now? Identify this location, and win a free audio book of Quillifer. I’m calling off the previous contest before we go through all 700 of the world’s stratovolcanoes.  The picture was of Mt Ngaurohoe in New Zealand, which stood in for Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings […]

Read the full article →

Where Am I?

October 30, 2017

Where is the subject of this photo? The first correct answer will win a free audio book of Quillifer. (Hint #1: There is more than one correct answer.) (Hint #2: There are no stratovolcanoes in Finland.)

Read the full article →

We’re Baaaack!

October 29, 2017

Taos Toolbox, the two-week master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, is getting set for 2018!  The workshop (June 17-30, 2018)  will be taught by Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with special lecturers Carrie Vaughn, indiepub guru Emily Mah Tippetts, and special guest George RR Martin. This is Year 11 for Taos […]

Read the full article →

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.