Today Is Tregillis Day

by wjw on April 26, 2012

I thought I’d give a shout-out to my friend Ian Tregillis, whose fine first novel Bitter Seeds has just been released in mass-market paperback.

This is Book One of the Milkweed Triptych, the very name of which will tell you that there are two more books somewhere in the pipe.  (The next, The Coldest War,  will be available in July.)

I’m hoping this series gets some traction, because it’s been lost somewhere in the Tor Abyss.  The hardback came out two years ago.  Who’s in charge over there?

But what, you ask, is the book about?  The cover might suggest that it’s about a scowly woman in the Old West or something, but in fact the series has a deeply cool premise, especially for those of you who have been enthusiastic about the discussion of science fantasy held recently in this forum.

It’s 1939.  The Nazis have supermen.  And the British have warlocks.

Not nice caper-naked-around-the-magic-circle warlocks, either, but warlocks in contact with seriously malefic Lovecraftian entities inimical to all mankind.

Who’s worse?  Hitler— or malefic entities from beyond Space and Time?

You should find out.

Also, you should probably demand that your local bookstore get copies, but if you want the cheap and easy alternative, here’s the appropriate pages from Amazon and B&N.

Since we’ve been chatting here about cover art, I’d like to talk about this particular sample.  What exactly is there in this cover that says cool alternate World War II with Nazi supermen and magic?  If it’s there, it’s so small I can’t see it.  And if I can’t see it here, the odds are against anyone seeing it in a bookstore.

Now the notable thing about this cover is that it replaced another cover that graced the hardback.

Now in this otherwise excellent work by John Jude Palencar we see a young woman sowing a field full of skulls.  Which is atmospheric as all hell, but the only thing that might suggest cool alternate World War II with Nazi supermen and magic is that the young woman is wearing a swastika armband so small you’d need a microscope to see it.

Now how much effort would it take to MAKE THE SWASTIKA BIG?

Because if you MAKE THE SWASTIKA BIG, people who are interested in the Second World War will know that this is a book they might be interested in.  They might even pick it up and buy it!

Now maybe someone at the publisher is afraid that if they MAKE THE SWASTIKA BIG, people (by which I mean complete morons) might think they are somehow endorsing Hitler or his political philosophy.  But then these people are complete morons, too stupid to read the book anyway, so who gives a damn about them?

No, I just think that if you MAKE THE SWASTIKA BIG, the book might have a chance of finding its audience.  Who are not, I reiterate, actual Nazis!

That’s why, if you should happen to write a book with Nazis in it, you should insist that the publisher PUT A FUCKING SWASTIKA ON IT.  Because then you could actually sell books and make money.

See also: Golfing for Cats.

DorjePismo April 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Maybe not Nazis per se, but nothing says German like Fraktur.

DensityDuck April 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

The fucking problem with fucking putting a fucking swastika on it is that then the fucking germans won’t fucking let you fucking use fucking the fucking cover fucking art fucking fucking.

(also I think the paperback cover looks cooler.)

Ken Houghton April 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

“the very name of which will tell you that there are two more books somewhere in the pipe. (The next, The Coldest War, will be available in July.)…

“The hardback came out two years ago. Who’s in charge over there?”

Someone who knew to hold the paperback of the first until a time near when the second book was ready for release?

wjw April 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Ken, the second and third books have been ready for ages. What happened was that no one at Tor ever bothered to read them . . . also for ages. Ian wrote about it on his blog— with considerably less cynicism and bitterness than =I= would have displayed— but Ian’s blog does not seem to have a search function, and I couldn’t find it.

DD, I very much doubt that Tor has the right to market this book in Germany. That would be up to a German publisher, who would put their own stupid cover on it.

Nathan April 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm

The old cover — which graces my copy — isn’t bad, but it makes the book look too de Lintean. The new cover looks just like 500 other boringly similar covers on the shelves right now from and inspired by Chris McGrath. Too bad we’ll never know what Picacio or Eggleton or someone could have done with it.

Rich April 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm

They took they rightful artwork for “Coldest War” and used it to generate a short story collection. Cool idea but I feel royally pissed off that my hardback will sit alone on the shelf as I won’t be buying the new covers in hardback, they are so common!

Steve Halter April 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Here is the link to Ian’s blog entry:

Things seem to be going much more smoothly now.

Johan Larson April 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I read the book. Rocked me like a hurricane it did, and no mistake.

But let us pause for a moment of silence to honour the poor [expletive deleted] illustrator and marketing wonk told to sell a book about Nazi psi-tech ubermenchen facing off against English Lovecraftian warlocks. How you even begin to get that across in a cover creative?

wjw April 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm

It’s certainly a cover that would be easy to do =badly.= Stormtroopers and wizards in pointy hats firing beams of light at one another, etc. I can understand Tor’s decision to go upscale.

But still, there should be some kind of happy compromise. I saw the new cover in the store today, looked at it carefully, and it didn’t tell me =anything.= If the chick had a tattoo and was facing away, I would have figured it for urban fantasy.

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