Over at the Guardian, there's a must-read feature where Brian Aldiss celebrates the publication of his final science fiction novel, Finches of Mars, by looking at six decades of weird book covers. Here are a few of our favorite quotes.
The Dark Light Years Faber & Faber (1964)
Faber were my first publishers. I never had to search for them. Charles Monteith wrote to me and invited me to send them 'The Brightfount Diaries'. That book amused people, and from then on I was away. This novel has an oyster design by the very trendy Bridget Riley. My title is a quote from TS Eliot: 'O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark, / The vacant interstellar spaces ... ' All the same, it's a cheerful tale of space explorers on an alien planet, who find an alien ship crammed with alien shit ... So metaphysical questions are raised ...
Life in the West Carroll & Graf, New York (1990)
The American rather than the English edition. I liked the style of this hardcover's jacket. I lunched with the publisher and his lady; the blighter stuck me for the price of the meal. This is the first of four volumes known – or unknown – as The Squire Quartet. Covering our loves and troubles, the series ran into problems in the UK, with each volume being published by a different publisher. Anthony Burgess called this volume rich, saying it was 'not afraid of thought, full of vital rounded characters'. Alas, that didn't help much.
Helliconia Gollancz / Orion Publishing (2010)
This portly paperback contains all Helliconias, Spring, Summer and Winter. The cover, beautiful and dignified, carries a quote from the TLS, claiming that 'Science fiction has never before had this grandeur.' Hmm, I spent two years on research before writing a word ... Most SF contains assumptions – an assumption that we will colonise Mars, let's say. Here, we assume that a year may last for 5,000 years, leading to two types of being. Front page, New York Times, 16 September 2011, announces NASA has discovered a distant planet with two suns, a lesser and a larger. Some astronomers though this impossible. It is the Helliconian model.
Check out his comments on seven more book covers, spanning his career, over at the Guardian.