Smugglers Stash

Smugglers’ Stash & News

Happy Sunday to all and to all a good night!

Wait. I think I’m getting my greetings mixed up. Oops.

Covers, Covers, Covers:

Quite a lot has been going on in the world of speculative fiction-fantasy cover-land. Orbit has another fabulous, insightful, and hilarious survey up (a reprisal of their original census of covers from 2008). Here are the results (click to enlarge):

Also, io9 has an interesting post up about the two rules of awesome sf/fantasy art, worth taking a look at.

On the opposite end of the cover spectrum, however, more of the same ol’ shit strikes again. We’re talking…

Whitewashing: Yeah, It Happened Again

This time, the subject is Catherynne M. Valente’s The Habitation of the Blessed. Here is the proposed cover, from Night Shade Books (whom you may have heard of – publisher of this year’s Nebula award winning novel The Windup Girl):

First, the cover is kind of ridiculously out of proportion and the art frankly bizarre. Comments on Ms. Valente’s site make fun of the Ghost Rider-esque head on fire, the ginormous man hands, the fact that Prester John looks shockingly like China Mieville. As one commenter puts it, “If I had to guess for this? I’d say it’s a book about a European guy who, idk, hangs around Europe summoning pretty “exotic” ladies from books? Or something? Which, yeah, no.” When one takes into account the fact that Cat Valente’s book is about a non-white main character and cast, this all sort of comes to an awkward convergence. Cat has already been fighting her publishers for changes to the characters’ appearance on the covers – apparently, Nightshade Book’s response to her request to nix the whitewashing was to change the girl on the cover from a blonde to a brunette. Umm…great.

Fan Onaleopard, on her The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland LJ has read the book and has a passionate, awesome post about the whole fiasco. She says:

*The action of covering a book full of characters of color with pictures of white people, throwing some mehndi and eyeshadow on one of them, is fully an exercise and manifestation of staggering privilege, not a shrewd decision or anything that “inspires a sense of awe and wonder.”

The mehndi lady keeps making me choke out in impotent rage. I’ve read this book. The one character she could possibly represent is the woman in yellow. The woman in yellow? Has red-brown skin. And wears yellow. And is not running around naked and white covered in mehndi being partially disembodied and in the background behind Prester John like an Exotic Lady Assistant, let me tell you what.

This is infuriating. Everything about this is infuriating – the short shrift given to Cat’s name, the slapdash, garish, busy design, the utter lack of congruity between the book and its cover, the way in which the cover represents every trope the book subverts, the gross departure from the look and feel of a Valente novel, the cheap appearance…the fucking whitewashing…it’s just bad. I saw my friend saying, over and over, that they weren’t listening to her. This is not what I am used to when the newest Valente cover comes out. I expect HOORAY JOY HAPPY from the comments section, not “What is this? What is happening? Why can’t I read the title? Why are Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and some white lady who went a little overboard at the MAC counter and the “henna tattoo” shop at the mall running amok in Prester John’s kingdom?” It’s like a bad dream. It’s like they fed this book to the Opposite Machine and put the results on the cover.

We could not agree more. Hopefully Night Shade Books will get the message and change the cover – and if you post about it or write them a letter, you can help get the ball rolling, too.

Mockingjay 13 District Tour and

Thanks to everyone that entered (and continues to enter) our Mockingjay Giveaway! The tour is still moving along and we still have 25 iSkins up for grabs. If you haven’t entered yet, there’s still time before the contest closes on September 1!

Also, in addition to the giveaway, we have put a post up at about what to read after you’re done with Mockingjay – you know, to counter the shaky Katniss withdrawal. Check it out.

An Awesome Trailer:

You might have guessed that we (or at least Thea) are big Walking Dead fans. Well, AMC has finally released the official trailer for the comic book’s television series adaptation (under the guidance of Frank “Shawshank Redemption” Darabont). We cannot freaking wait.

This Week on The Book Smugglers:

On Monday, we have our latest entry in our A Dude Reads Paranormal Romance segment, with Harry’s review of The Bloodgate Guardian by Joely Sue Burkhart.

Tuesday, we have Thea’s review of young adult novel Nevermore by the wonderful Kelly Creagh, with an interview with the author later in the day.

On Wednesday, Thea reviews Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the final book in her Hunger Games series, at long last. Is it everything she could have hoped for?

Thursday, we have a joint review of zombie novel Dust by Joan Frances Turner – with a giveaway opportunity.

Finally, we close out the week on Friday with Ana’s review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

As always, we remain…

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers


  • Michelle
    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Awesome list up at Tor! So many on my TBR pile I don’t know where to start first.

  • Kristen
    August 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve been following the cover fiasco on Catherynne Valente’s journal as well. Hopefully they get it straightened out with a cover that better represents the contents of the book. I couldn’t believe that they just changed the blond to a brunette and thought that solved the whitewashing issue.

  • Tiah
    August 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Maybe they should start leaving people off books covers if they can’t get the character’s description right.

  • Erika (Jawas Read, Too)
    August 29, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    hehe! Chewie and Han! 🙂

    I’m curious to see what Thea thought of Mockingjay… 🙂

  • Paulo Gonçalves
    August 30, 2010 at 1:45 am

    The book called Dust should be good. I must read it. I hope you will read the book instead of criticizing the cover art. The cover is marketing thing… that it seems it works.

    I rarely if ever choose a book to read because of the cover.

    To me it doesn’t matter if it’s a white girl a black guy or a chimpanze. If I like the blur in the back or if it is by a familiar author or a reviewer that I usually like I buy it. Thinking of it I can’t remember the last time I bought the book because of the cover…

  • Amanda Isabel
    August 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Oh man – this week is gonna rock!

    Also – Walking dead … so cannot wait for that one!

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglivus 2010 Book Review: The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente
    December 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    […] to read more of the author’s work. So, when I heard about The Habitation of the Blessed (cover fiasco aside) – and then I heard Cat read a passage from the book before Comic Con – I was […]

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins | The Mad Reviewer
    February 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

    […] picture courtesy of The Book Smugglers.) Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even through her home has been destroyed.  Gale […]

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