Cover Controversy of a Different Sort

On May 4th, 2010 a fascinating new anthology will be released: a science fiction/fantasy collection from Chinese authors.  It’s called The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, and features an introduction from “New York Times bestselling author” Tess Gerritsen.  Sounds pretty interesting, huh?

Here’s the cover for the book:

Dragon and the Stars Cover

A nicely designed cover with a cool looking dragon perched on a crag in front of a full moon, along with a vibrant purple color; all elements one can appreciate and which will garner a lot of interest, with people picking up and checking out the book.

Now, on the cover, the following is also printed: “18 original stories melding the rich cultural heritage of China with the imaginative realms of science fiction and fantasy.”  Why do you think it was necessary to put this nugget of detail on the front cover?  Perhaps because there is nothing of the cover that actually says this is a collection of Chinese writers, with a very familiar–  to the Western World at least — dragon that we’ve become familiar with in many of the dragon fantasy tales.  And yet does this dragon reveal anything that might possibly hint at the “rich cultural heritage of China”?

It’s a collection of of stories from Chinese authors with a Western cover so that Westerners will be enticed by the familiar and not “turned off” by the unknown or misunderstood. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who wrote about this in one of her posts, quickly made up a new cover for Dragon and the Stars that brings a whole different perspective to what this collection truly consists of:

Dragon and the Stars Fancover

A cover that embodies far more the concept of a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories by Chinese authors.  I would also say, in my opinion, that I would be far more likely to be interested in and would seek out a book with this second cover, than the actual cover to Dragon and the Stars, which has a relatively plan and ordinary fantasy cover compared to this new one.

Nevertheless, come May I do still plan to read and review Dragon and the Stars, as it just seems like such a fascinating book.  Whether it will still have this same cover is another matter.  All I’m saying is, change it possible, and Bloomsbury did it.  Twice.  As I discussed in an earlier post.  So maybe, if enough people made a stand, say something, and complain . . .

And here are some links from other people who talk about this:

The World SF News Blog: Wednesday Editorial: On Book Covers

A Wolf’s Journey

Janet Chui’s blog: Even Dragons Can be Whitewashed