80s Sci Fi Book Covers

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognizing as occurring in the United States between 1938 to 1946, was a period during which science fiction literature in which a number of foundational works appeared. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the “pulp era” of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are, in this scheme, a transitional period. Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age. According to historian Adam Roberts, “the phrase Golden Age valorises a particular sort of writing: ‘Hard SF’, linear narratives, heroes solving problems or countering threats in a space-opera or technological-adventure idiom.”I myself was ambivalent … There was a tendency for the new reality to nail the science fiction writer to the ground. Prior to 1945, science fiction had been wild and free. All its motifs and plot varieties remained in the realm of fantasy and we could do as we pleased. After 1945, there came the increasing need to talk about the AEC and to mold all the infinite scope of our thoughts to the small bit of them that had become real. As a phenomenon that affected the psyches of a great many adolescents during World War II and the ensuing Cold War, science fiction’s Golden Age has left a lasting impression upon society. The beginning of the Golden Age coincided with the first Worldcon in 1939 and, especially for its most involved fans, science fiction was becoming a powerful social force. The genre, particularly during its Golden Age, had significant, if somewhat indirect, effects upon leaders in the military, information technology, Hollywood and science itself, especially biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. Many scientists deeply involved in the exploration of the solar system (myself among them) were first turned in that direction by science fiction. And the fact that some of that science fiction was not of the highest quality is irrelevant. Ten year‐olds do not read the scientific literature.By consensus, the Golden Age began circa 1938–1939, slightly later than the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, another pulp-based genre. The July 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction is sometimes cited as the start of the Golden Age. It included “Black Destroyer”, the first published story by A. E. van Vogt, as well as the first appearance by Isaac Asimov (“Trends”) in the magazine. Later author-critic John C. Wright said of Van Vogt’s story, “This one started it all.” The August issue contained the first published story by Robert A. Heinlein (“Life-Line”). Several factors changed the market for magazine science fiction in the mid- and late 1950s. Most important was the rapid contraction of the pulp market: Fantastic Adventures and Famous Fantastic Mysteries folded in 1953, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Beyond in 1955, Other Worlds and Science Fiction Quarterly in 1957, Imagination, Imaginative Tales, and Infinity in 1958. In October 1957, the successful launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 narrowed the gap between the real world and the world of science fiction, as the space race began. Asimov shifted to writing nonfiction he hoped would attract young minds to science, while Robert A. Heinlein became more dogmatic in expressing political and social views in his fiction. Emerging British writers, such as Brian W. Aldiss and J. G. Ballard, cultivated a more literary style, indicating the direction other writers would soon pursue. Women writers, such as Joanna Russ and Judith Merril, emerged. The leading Golden Age magazine, Astounding Stories, changed its title to Analog Science Fiction and Fact in 1960. Robert Silverberg, in a 2010 essay, argued that the true Golden Age was the 1950s, and that the “Golden Age” of the 1940s was a kind of “false dawn”. “Until the decade of the fifties”, Silverberg wrote, “there was essentially no market for science fiction books at all”; the audience supported only a few special interest small presses. The 1950s saw “a spectacular outpouring of stories and novels that quickly surpassed both in quantity and quality the considerable achievement of the Campbellian golden age”, as mainstream companies like Simon & Schuster and Doubleday displaced specialty publishers like Arkham House and Gnome Press.Many of the most enduring science fiction tropes were established in Golden Age literature. Space opera came to prominence with the works of E. E. “Doc” Smith; Isaac Asimov established the canonical Three Laws of Robotics beginning with the 1941 short story “Runaround”; the same period saw the writing of genre classics such as the Asimov’s Foundation and Smith’s Lensman series. Another frequent characteristic of Golden Age science fiction is the celebration of scientific achievement and the sense of wonder; Asimov’s short story “Nightfall” exemplifies this, as in a single night a planet’s civilization is overwhelmed by the revelation of the vastness of the universe. Robert A. Heinlein’s 1950s novels, such as The Puppet Masters, Double Star, and Starship Troopers, express the libertarian ideology that runs through much of Golden Age science fiction.

A influence on the creation of the Golden Age was John W. Campbell, who achieved status as the most prominent editor of the time. Isaac Asimov stated that “…in the 1940s, (Campbell) dominated the field to the point where to many seemed all of science fiction.” Under Campbell’s editorship, science fiction developed more realism and psychological depth to characterization than it exhibited in the Gernsbackian “super science” era. The focus shifted from the gizmo itself to the characters using the gizmo. Campbell edited Astounding Science Fiction.Algis Budrys in 1965 wrote of the “recurrent strain in ‘Golden Age’ science fiction of the 1940s—the implication that sheer technological accomplishment would solve all the problems, hooray, and that all the problems were what they seemed to be on the surface”. The Golden Age also saw the reemergence of the religious or spiritual themes—central to so much proto-science fiction prior to the pulp era—that Hugo Gernsback had tried to eliminate in his vision of “scientifiction”. Among the most significant such Golden Age narratives are Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Clarke’s Childhood’s End, Blish’s A Case of Conscience, and Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Asimov said that “[t]he dropping of the atom bomb in 1945 made science fiction respectable” to the general public. He recalled in 1969 “I’ll never forget the shock that rumbled through the entire world of science fiction fandom when … Heinlein broke the ‘slicks’ barrier by having an undiluted science fiction story of his published in The Saturday Evening Post”. The large, mainstream companies’ entry into the science fiction book market around 1950 was similar to how they published crime fiction during World War II; authors no longer could only publish through magazines. Asimov said, however, that
He continued, “In fact, there was the birth of something I called ‘tomorrow fiction’; the science fiction story that was no more new than tomorrow’s headlines. Believe me, there can be nothing duller than tomorrow’s headlines in science fiction”, citing Nevil Shute’s On the Beach as example.

After A Clockwork Orange, Pelham directly design covers for Penguin, including his four stunning J.G. Ballard reprints in 1974. In discussing Ballard’s work, Pelham said he was drawn by their “apocalyptic imagery” and “depiction of technological and human breakdown and decay.” He translated these concepts to the book covers he designed by showcasing human creations left abandoned, sinking in vast orange sands or blue waters in dreadful dystopian landscapes, evoking a peaceful yet lonely depiction of the future as described in Ballard’s novels.
Although examples of beautiful book covers can be found in any literary genre, sci-fi book covers revolutionized science fiction as a whole with their endless range of imagination and brilliant visual storytelling. One of the first to do so was Amazing Stories. Founded in 1926 by the man who coined the term “Science Fiction,” Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories published stories from writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, among others. Today, however, it is not the magazines’ stories that are remembered, but the covers. The vibrant artworks on the covers of Amazing Stories brought viewers to another planet, time, or dimension before they could even open the magazine. The iconic blue and yellow skies with fantastic scenes from adventures below were created by Frank R. Paul, the first of many great sci-fi cover artists who greatly influenced how sci-fi is viewed as a genre. Many pulp magazines imitated his work yet could never match his technique and stylistic use of colour.Science fiction novels contain the limits of the imagination. Unfathomable ideas and images are brought to life through the only medium possible—literature. Nevertheless, cover artists are tasked with bringing these fantastical stories into the visual world. The cover of a sci-fi novel bridges imagination to the eye, bringing these stories down to earth in the form of masterpieces in visual storytelling.

The retro cover art of the 1920s-1970s was so influential it has frequently surpassed the legacy of the text it was prompted by. In the case of Frank Kelly Freas’ cover art for the October 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, this trend rings true. The beautifully rendered image depicts a robot-like figure holding a man he has killed, as evident from the blood on his finger. The robot’s obscure expression leads viewers to question if it is a look of confusion and regret or a gaze of malice, resulting in an intriguing and brilliant artwork. Twenty-four years after its publication, the cover stole the attention of Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor who hired Freas to recreate his iconic image for Queen’s sixth album News Of The World (1977).Enter A Clockwork Orange. To coincide with Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the novel, a new book cover was due for A Clockwork Orange in 1972. After Pelham’s designer submitted “a very poor job very late,” Pelham was forced to design the now-iconic cover himself in a single night. The cover married the novel and film perfectly and solidified Penguin Random House as the frontrunner in sci-fi cover art.

With Power’s at the helm, Ballantine Books became a powerhouse in publishing beautiful sci-fi covers, but it wasn’t the only one. Penguin Random House is another notable contributor to the art of sci-fi book covers. In 1963, Penguin left behind their distinct colour-coded cover designs, launching a series of sci-fi books featuring abstract and surrealist works of modern artists such as Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, René Magritte, among others. The pairings held subtle connections between the art and the novel’s contents, allowing the reader to draw their conclusions. Penguin’s then-director of cover art, Germano Facetti, wrote that the paintings on the book cover provided “an additional service to the reader who is without immediate access to art galleries or museums.” Although novels bearing these paintings on their cover are no longer in print, the same is true today. The covers of sci-fi novels are no less than true works of art, with many belonging in galleries and museums rather than in book stores.
Originating as a practical means of protection before the late 1800s, book covers rarely bore more than the book’s title and author. However, when publishing companies realized the advertisement potentials, illustrations soon decorated every novel’s covers, calling out to be read. The 1890s marked the birth of the book cover that we know today with The Yellow Book, a series of covers designed by Aubry Beardsley. Soon, iconic book covers such as The Great Gatsby and A Clockwork Orange would be created, the likes of which would turn book covers into an art form of its own.In the early 1950s, the now well-known illustrator Richard M. Powers began working with Ballantine Books on their science fiction covers, bringing innovative ideas and pushing the cartoonish pulp covers to the past. As opposed to depicting the novel’s events on the cover in detail, Powers favoured a more subtle approach by creating abstract and surrealist images that only hinted at the book’s plot, providing a visual tone for readers to carry with them as the story unfolded. Powers led a new era of sci-fi covers dominated by themes and ideas, subsequently merging the world of book covers and art. Writing in The Art Of Richard Powers (2001), “One of the things that appealed to me about science fiction, is that it was possible to do Surrealist paintings that had validity… in their own right, and not necessarily functioning as the cover of a book.” Powers understood cover art as an art form of its own, as respectable as any other work of art. For this reason, his works remain to be some of the most influential of the genre.

What is the trend in sci-fi book covers?
New Sci Fi Covers Notice the trend toward rich, deep colors. Artistic flourishes on text. A hint of the unusual in either the human (alien) or the landscape. All of the artwork is brighter, darker, more bold, and more vibrant than any other genre.
In 1969-1970, Penguin’s new art director David Pelham commissioned Italian designer Franco Grignani to create a set of sixteen covers for a sci-fi miniseries. Grignani distorted projected photography using lenses, often utilizing liquids such as water or oil and broken pieces of mirror or glass as an experimental photographer. The covers featured striking solid colours in distorted patterns and images over black. The result is a psychedelic mosaic, clueing viewers into the concepts of space, inter-dimensional travel, and distorted time explored in the novels.

To not only help you understand how many words are in a novel, but how many should be in your specific book depending on what you’re writing and its genre.Still not sure where to start? Check recommended word and page counts for multiple ages of varied audiences using the calculator at the top of this post. Once you have that, you can break your total words needed for your novel down into monthly, weekly, and daily writing goals.

What makes a good sci-fi book cover?
Sci-fi art should tell a story: Be it a tale of spacefarers, a story about a strange-new world, or a time-travel book, the art should reflect it. You either can be specific about the book’s intent or vague. Both approaches are effective as long as they convey the atmosphere, themes, or tone of the book well.
Horror is much like mystery in the sense that you don’t want to drag these novels on too long. Therefore, we advise writers to stick between 40,000 to 80,000 words for horror novels.

Keep in mind that this is not a perfect way to calculate the number of pages your book will be. However, this rough estimation can help you understand the approximate length of your book.
Because dystopian is often a sub-genre, meaning it usually has a broader genre within it like fantasy or sci-fi, there’s room to expand and grow these types of novels.Not all fantasy novels are epic fantasy novels. Epic fantasy is a sub-genre beneath fantasy and encompasses very long journey-specific plots. Authors who write in this style are George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and the late J.R.R. Tolkien.

Knowing where to look to locate your word count will help you determine how long your book is actually going to be once it’s finished and you publish it (which you’ll learn to do in the next step).
Ultimately, you can expect there to be roughly 300 words per page in a book you write as a whole. Because dialogue requires paragraph breaks, there will be fewer words than if you have a few pages of full paragraphs instead of dialogue.Those looking for help through a book in this genre don’t want a massive novel to go through just to read what they need. For that reason, if you have a motivational or self-help book idea, keep it at a lower word count will actually help you more.Keep in mind that these word counts are guidelines. One thing we teach here at Self-Publishing School is that you must first know the rules before you can confidently break them.For example, our own Student Success Strategist, Lisa Zelenak, wrote this book called Find Your Thing. It’s a self-help book detailing how to escape monotony in your early 20s and do work that actually matters. Romance is a unique genre because the plot is all about two characters and their adventure with one another. For that reason, writing a long, lengthy book just about their romance can become a problem for the readers. We recommend memoirs be between 45,000 to 80,000 words in order to maintain intrigue and reduce intimidation. This means your memoir will average between 150 and 265 pages.

The reason this book does well is because it is not a super lengthly novel. With a self-help book, your audience wants to learn something and they want to learn it sooner rather than later.
The average word count for a novel is between 60,000 and 110,000 words depending on the genre. First-time writers should research their genre in this post and choose the word count that’s the industry standard. Example: 90,000 words for a romance novel.As you can see, word count for science fiction books vary widely. However, we do not suggest writing a novel of 500,000 words unless you as established as Stephen King is.

What color is most sci-fi?
Cool tones – in particular blue and/or green – convey a classic sci-fi look. It suggests a futuristic world with slick technology.
For example, if you write 1000 words on a page in Google Docs, but maintain double spacing, that would be about two pages. However, if your text is smaller than 12 and you use a different spacing variation, it may only be one to one and a half pages.Contemporary novels typically don’t exceed 90,000 words particularly because they’re focused on modern problems versus anything other wordly. This means if you write too long of a book, you run the risk of losing your reader’s attention. *These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting* Your audience matters because different age ranges prefer different lengths of books. An older audience, like new adult or adult, is far more likely to consumer a book that’s over 100,000 words, whereas a younger audience like young adult only has the attention span for less than 90,000 words.

A 300-page book word count average is about 90,000 words. However, the word count per page can widely change, depending on the format, amount of dialogue, and even font size.
Anything longer can be difficult for a younger audience to consume and retain all of the information. Therefore, cap your first draft off at 65,000 words with the intent to cut out what you don’t need when you ship it off to your editor.

What sci-fi books were published before 1985?
Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) … Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) … Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) … The Handmaid’s Tale (The Handmaid’s Tale, #1) … The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #2) … Life, the Universe and Everything (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, #3)
The amount of words in your novel does matter. Depending on your genre, having too many or too little can not only hurt your book sales, but also cause fewer 5-star reviews (which also hurts your sales).As you can see, this genre’s word count bounces all over the place. Just keep your intended audience in mind (young adult, middle-grade), in order to know how many words to write.

When readers see that a memoir exceeds 300 pages, it sets up a red flag in their mind. Even if they’re interested in the memoir, a very lengthy memoir is often indicative of something reminiscent of an autobiography (which is basically a timeline of life events) versus a personal life telling with a theme or message.
By accepting all cookies, you agree to our use of cookies to deliver and maintain our services and site, improve the quality of Reddit, personalize Reddit content and advertising, and measure the effectiveness of advertising.**A place to discuss published speculative fiction**—novels, short stories, comics, and more. Not sure if a book counts? Then post it! Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alt. History, Postmodern Lit., and more are all welcome here. **The key is that it be speculative, not that it fit some arbitrary genre guidelines**. Any sort of link or text post is welcome as long as it is about printed / text / static SF material.

How many pages is the average sci-fi book?
Science fiction books typically have between 50,000 and 150,000 words, like fantasy novels. This puts them at between 170 – 500 pages. This specific genre has a lot of flexibility with word and page count due to the variety of plot types and story arcs.
A chapter is always as long as the book needs it to be. The tough thing is that sometimes different books need different things depending on their genre, content, and target audience. So how do you know what the right chapter length should be?Get an overview of many of the basic techniques of effective creative writing with editor and teacher Ross Turner. Even if you’re familiar with these techniques, this webinar can help you view them in a new way — or you can simply take advantage of a few writing exercises with like-minded writers.

A great way to end your chapter on a dramatic question is to use a cliffhanger. This is when you close your chapter just on the brink of some major event or reveal. Using a cliffhanger creates a big question that your reader will only find out the answer to if they keep reading to the next one.

Roald Dahl felt the movie version of his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was “crummy,” and vowed that film producers would never get their hands on the sequel.

If your chapter is moving from one perspective to another, one location to another, or jumping forward (or backward) in time, ask yourself if your chapter has done both of these jobs. If not, consider a scene break instead of a chapter break—a space between one scene and another within the same chapter. You can have several scene breaks without needing to stop one chapter and start a new one.
How do you know if a chapter is not enough, or too much, or does what it’s supposed to in your book? Fortunately, structuring chapters doesn’t have to be scary—we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about finding the perfect chapter structure for your nonfiction book or novel.While the average chapter word count is about the length of a short story, there is no standardized rule for how long a chapter should be. Your book will tell you what sort of chapter length it needs.

Was sci-fi big in the 80s?
The ’80s was a decade of big hair, bold make-up, and vibrancy. But the decade also popularized the genre of science fiction in film, as every studio was desperate to produce the next Star Wars.
Knowing the right number of chapters, the perfect chapter lengths, and how to structure them in your novel is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Chapters matter because they help the reader follow your story in a coherent, rhythmic way—and keep them wanting to read more. Whether you use long chapters or short ones, a handful or a hundred, the most important thing to keep in mind is the number one rule of writing: Hold my attention.If you’re plotting your novel writing process using your favourite story structure, you might find setting a goal for a certain number of chapters can help you break down each section of your book more effectively. Some writers like to use only scene breaks in their first draft. Then, at the end, they go back and pick out which ones to turn into chapter breaks instead. However, many writers don’t even bother to use chapters until their first draft is finished! Then, they go back and see where the natural breaks in the narrative occur and insert chapter divisions there. This method helps your chapters unfold more organically and follow the rhythms of the story (rather than the other way around).If you plan on having thirty chapters, for example, then you can deduce that your inciting incident needs to happen around chapter two, your first major plot point at about chapter six, your midpoint turn at chapter fifteen, and so forth. This makes it easier to stay on track and keep the events of your story unfolding in the right rhythm.As readers, we all know the thrill of careening through one chapter after another, devouring a story in bites just long enough to satisfy and just short enough to keep us turning the pages for more. But as writers, things like chapter length, chapter breaks, and even chapter titles can become uncertain and intimidating.

Titling chapters is one of the biggest questions new writers have when embarking on a novel-length work. Should chapters in a novel have names? Do you need fancy titles to introduce a scene? Or are numbers better? Finding the perfect word count is all about managing the reader’s attention span, preventing their mind from wandering off to other things, and keeping them turning to the next chapter so they can find out what happens next. Let’s look at chapter length in a bit more detail. In a standard novel, the number of chapters can range anywhere from about ten to around fifty (or more!). On average, twenty to thirty is a pretty good benchmark for most novels.

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Learn a plethora of practical tips on how anyone, regardless of experience, can improve their writing. From plot to character, scene structure to style, you’ll walk away feeling confident that you can make your story shine!It should raise new questions to be answered in the following chapters (if it’s your last one and there is no following chapter, it should effectively answer any lingering questions that haven’t been answered yet).It should answer one or more of the dramatic questions raised in the previous chapter (if it’s your first one and there is no previous chapter, it should answer some of the questions raised in the first few paragraphs—like, who is this person? Why are they walking in this seedy alleyway in their best suit? What are they looking for?). Traditional nonfiction books—books meant to teach us something new—have chapters divided by study topic (this is a bit different from creative nonfiction books, like memoirs, which follow more of a novel format). Traditional nonfiction chapters are often longer and cover more scope than a novel chapter. In general, an average nonfiction book will have around ten to twenty chapters. In fiction, using titles for your chapters is a bit more subjective. Like many things in publishing, it is subject to certain trends; thirty or forty years ago, chapter titles were much more popular in novels than they are today. When considering titles for your chapters, ask yourself what purpose it’s serving in the book.In general, each “part” should read as its own self-contained story. Then, each of these self-contained stories come together to make an even bigger one. You can use parts to show that one chapter of your main character’s life has come to a close and a new one is beginning, or that you’re turning your book to a new, related story in another time or place.

Using a descriptive chapter title like “Into the Dark Woods” or “The Final Battle” can enhance your story, but they can also read as a bit distracting. This is entirely a matter of preference. If you love the idea of using descriptive captions to open your individual chapters, you certainly can—just make sure to use similar chapter titles that complement each other and maintain your book’s rhythm. Otherwise, relying on chapter numbers is a timeless and reliable way to set each chapter apart.
In a traditional nonfiction book, chapters should always have titles. This tells the reader what they can expect to come away with by the time they’re finished. Your title explains what they’re about to learn, or what argument you’re trying to make through your work. Without chapter titles, you’ll have a harder time convincing readers to pick up your book.For example, many writers like to use timestamps as chapter headings—for instance, “Three Days Before the Fire,” or “1929.” This can be helpful if your book jumps around in time a lot and you want to make sure your reader always knows where and when they are.

The novel Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden doesn’t use any chapters at all—it maintains a continuous stream of consciousness from beginning to end, with only a few scene breaks to give the reader some respite. This can be tricky to pull off since readers tend to welcome chapter breaks when they’re reading. However, it can be a fun approach to try if your novel, like Madden’s, is all told through a limited window of time. The prologue describes a scene in the protagonist’s childhood, in which a lot of things happen: the main character and their siblings are attacked, see their parents killed, learn of a world outside their own, and are then kidnapped and taken away to that world to grow up. Once this foundation has been established, Black conveys the passage of time through a very short first chapter: This is about as short as a novel chapter can get. You couldn’t maintain single-sentence chapters all the way through your book—not only would they rack up into the thousands, they’d lose what was impactful about them in the first place. But used sparingly, short chapters can convey a powerful statement in a small amount of space.

Other books might go the opposite way and have many very short chapters. These can be effective in some cases, but difficult to maintain in others. We’ll look more at chapter length and how long your chapters should be below.
You may decide you want to plan out how many chapters to have in your book before you begin. However, keep in mind that there are no hard-and-fast rules about exactly how many chapters is ideal for any given book—these can vary greatly even among books that are the same length. So what do you do?Try to write chapters that are all approximately the same length, so the reader knows what to expect. Sometimes, however, shorter chapters can be effective when you’re trying to make a statement. Consider Holly Black’s YA novel The Cruel Prince. In general, epic fantasy books tend to have longer chapters—around 5000 or 6000 words on average. Mysteries and thrillers, which often rely on staccato dramatic questions and breakneck pacing, often have shorter chapters—usually 1000 to 2000 words. Romances and YA novels usually have average chapter lengths of around 2000 or 3000 words. This is why it’s helpful to plan out your nonfiction book before you start writing and have a clear idea of everything you want to say. Fortunately, we have a dedicated lesson to creating a nonfiction book outline in our academy!

When was the golden age of sci-fi?
1938 to 1946 The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published.
Other times, a writer might use character names as titles if the story is being told from multiple perspectives. Jennifer Ryan’s novel The Kitchen Front is told from the point of view of four different women, and each chapter has the narrator’s name at the top so the reader doesn’t get confused.

Each nonfiction chapter should encompass an idea, argument, process, or period of time that feeds into the larger whole. If you have too many chapters, your arguments can start to sound erratic and unconvincing; if there are too few, they can start to drag and lose their intensity. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, chapters separate your book into distinct tones, story beats, or ideas. Every time a new chapter begins, your readers understand that they’re being carried from one plot point or thematic idea to the next, and that something exciting is going to happen soon. This is what keeps them turning pages. In addition to creating your book’s structure, chapters also make the story look more approachable to your reader. If they see that the entire book is just one neverending wall of text, reading can start to feel like work. Chapters make the story or information presented look like a journey, rather than an obstacle.But as you hone in and decide on a concept, don’t forget one of the key considerations you should make for a film poster of any genre – what is your focus? This could mean following the world of the story and consequently its colour palette (e.g. the film is set in a forest or a desert so you will use colour that reflects that) but alternatively, you may want to highlight genre (using classic colour palettes), theme or emotional mood. As always, there is no right or wrong, just the awareness of what you are communicating.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a deep dive into one of my favourite genres – sci-fi – to examine how you can use this knowledge of colour to approach different looks for your film poster.
Black may also suggest a dark theme in the story and white may indicate that a sanitised environment such as a hospital or spaceship will make an appearance.Stark colour palettes that focus heavily on either black or white, tend to signal that the world of the film is one very different from the one we know. In these films we are likely to find ourselves very far from home in either space or time. Black or white are often combined with the cool colours of a classic sci-fi palette.

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This is just a very quick overview to get you thinking! What do you think of these palettes? Are there any that you find especially exciting? Or overdone? Are there any other genres you’d like me to share my thoughts on? Drop your ideas in the comments!

Using colour tones from the warm side of the colour wheel is more commonly associated with portraying a distinctive film storyworld. It often evokes a desert dystopia and the accompanying discomfort – when used well, you can almost feel the heat coming off the image.
Neon colours usually reflect a seedy underworld vibe. These films are usually very heightened and uncanny/unreal in some way. Unlike the sci-fi cliché of the storyworld looking slick and cutting edge, neon suggests a messiness – either in the world or the characters’ lives (or both).Contrasting colour pops can be used sparingly to add interest and a focal point for the design. A common use of this idea is red colour pops against a cool background – but this is a perfect concept to get more adventurous with! Cool tones – in particular blue and/or green – convey a classic sci-fi look. It suggests a futuristic world with slick technology. These colours convey genre very clearly – making it ideal for a lesser known indie film such as Prospect, whose poster uses icy blue shades, rather than the greens and browns that feature strongly in the production design. If you’ve read some of my previous articles covering colour concepts and the relationship between genre and colour in film posters, then you’ll know how much importance I put on the role of colour in design. These covers have changed a lot over the years of course as technology emerged. Now when you see a cover that looks like Asimov’s you know you’re dealing with a retro story. Digitally generated art has infiltrated Sci Fi and Fantasy even faster than other genres, which makes sense. After all, how else can you get robots, aliens, strange new worlds, and new civilizations onto your cover? If they don’t exist in real life it’s very hard to photograph them, and hiring an artist to draw them gets pricey, fast. It makes sense that the speculative genres would use artwork generated by something that’s truly out of this world first. After that, who knows? There’s a lot of potential here, and the software is just getting started. I can’t wait to see if AI-generated art infiltrates and influences the future’s book cover trends.

That really is frustrating! That’s definitely a genre where digital art shines, but finding someone talented in character creation can be a challenge for sure. Not to mention pricey. A symbol instead is a good alternative I think.
What do you think? Would you use AI-generated art for your covers? Did you like the modern sci fi covers better or the classics? Let’s talk about it down in the comments!Melinda VanLone is a coffee addict, a cat lover, and avid writer of stories about rascally heroes and sassy heroines who live happily ever after in spite of themselves. She shares her house with her fur babies and the love of her life, Mr. Melinda, who spends most of his time at home huddled under blankets because the thermostat remains under her iron control.

This is really exciting! I’ve just gone with symbols or something simplistic because finding a stock model of say — a historically accurate female warrior model who isn’t wearing a chainmaille bikini or isn’t a Viking just doesn’t exist. So frustrating.
I am stupid excited about this development! I love the idea of being able to be original on a budget, I write women’s fiction with romance elements. Sister stories that are set in unusual places. With the difficulty of stock photo variety and diversity, I’d love it if I could generate covers built around a story element.The problem for most publishers/authors is that learning how to do that takes a lot of time, knowledge, and skill. Frankly, writers should be writing, not trying to learn a whole other skill set.The subtle nuances between sub-genres is a topic for a whole other blog post so we’ll set that to the side for the moment because there’s something far more interesting going on right now.I generated that background in about fifteen minutes at the Dream website. This isn’t perfect by any means, and the background is fairly low-res if you’re trying to create a print cover, but I’m sure in the fullness of time we’ll be able to purchase the hi-resolution version of our creations. For now it’s still in beta testing, and there are several other companies in beta as well. In other words, they aren’t done yet.

Take a look at these current covers. Notice the trend toward rich, deep colors. Artistic flourishes on text. A hint of the unusual in either the human (alien) or the landscape. All of the artwork is brighter, darker, more bold, and more vibrant than any other genre.Authors in particular might have the advantage here, since we already know how to choose words to create a mental picture, right? One thing is for sure…the artwork generated via AI will be completely unique. Every rendering, even with the same keywords, is different. That’s a pretty cool thing in the land of limited stock photography options.

There are several companies racing to the finish line with some truly groundbreaking software that will take words you feed them and turn them into art. The potential is huge. It will make the creation of fantastical art a lot more accessible to those who might not have artistic or technical skills, which in turn will cause another trend shift in book covers as the impossible become possible.
Thanks for doing a deep dive into SF/F! Your cover is amazing. I haven’t played with Dream yet, but I’ve just invested in a paid plan at Midjourney. I’m able to create stunning art with it. (Spoiler – I created the cover of my next WITS post with it.) AI art is amazing! Giving that to artists and then letting them play and expand on it – powerful. The future is fascinating.The joy…and sometimes curse…of being Indie is having the ability to change something when it’s not working. I’d say if your book is selling, then don’t worry about trends at all. But if it’s not, or if it was but now isn’t, or if you are getting bad reviews because readers got the wrong expectation, then changing the cover might be a good move.I am gobsmacked! That beautiful cover in minutes! Thanks for this informative post. I’m awaiting the cover for my upcoming fantasy romance release of The Witch Whisperer from The Wild Rose Press artist. I can only hope for such brilliance.

When she’s not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her designing covers that sell, taking brisk walks around the neighborhood and failing to resist the pistachio muffins at the nearest local coffee shop. Head on over to melindavan.com to check out her latest writerly doings, or hop over to bookcovercorner.com to peak at her cover designs.
This is an amazing development. I’ve read and enjoyed all of your posts on cover design and trends. I did have one question. It relates to mystery-thriller in particular, but perhaps other genres. How much should we adjust our cover design as an Indie author versus those big-name authors who have a traditional publishing house behind their book promo/sales? In other words, a trend to making the title and author name the primary focus in mystery/thriller and less on the background might work for James Patterson but not little ole me. Could you comment on this across genres?Sci Fi and Fantasy often get lumped together in bookstores because they both deal with the fantastical. That said, there are vast differences between the two genres when it comes to covers and the stories within, and even more difference when you dig into the subgenres like New Adult or High Fantasy.

I haven’t been able to get into Midjourney yet but I can’t wait to give it a try! I’ve seen some fantastic things created with it. Can’t wait to see what you came up with!
Digital artists are so good it’s very hard to tell the difference between something generated entirely in Photoshop and true photography. It’s been that way for quite some time now. The lack of good stock photography that incorporates diverse models is simply not as big of a deal for this genre, because they are often creating their model in the software.

I could have done this all by hand with Photoshop, but it would have taken hours. Days, maybe. The better I got at feeding the right words to the AI, the more the art improved.

How do I find unique book covers?
How Do I Find a Specific Book Cover?Search by ISBN. Using the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your preferred book is a great start for refining your search – but it is only a start. … Filter out ‘Stock Photos’ … Search by Publishing Date. … Read Bookseller Descriptions. … Ask the Bookseller.
Back in the “old” days Science Fiction covers used hand-drawn artwork, or simple typography to get across alien landscapes. Fantasy, particularly Epic Fantasy, often did the same thing, but there was an air of magic, rather than an alien world or space.As popular culture exploded into existence, so too did new ways for artists to express themselves. Films like Alien depicted monsters as believable beings rather than exaggerated caricatures or humanoid doubles. LSD-riddled Musicians pioneered heavy rock and metal genres by imbuing music and accompanying media with occult and fantastical imagery. Writers imbibed new media forms and presented the public with new sources of inspiration. In time, a creative feedback loop developed.

By the time J.R.R. Tolkien had written The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, fantasy had become an unstoppable force. Numerous opportunistic authors offered their own cheap copies, but others wrote novels that were worthwhile in their own right. While authors would arguably never add so much to the fantasy formula as had been invented in the 1950s, the fantasy template primed readers for what they would encounter as they turned the pages of new novels.From the 1700s to approximately the mid-1900s, the more imaginative literary genres existed on the fringes of fiction. Most works of fiction were mundane descriptions of everyday happenings, as in J.D. Sallinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. In standard fiction novels, interpersonal drama was usually the main subject. While supernatural folk takes had been popular for centuries, they were still being passed down in isolated patches throughout Europe and elsewhere.

In the same way the scientific community had learned to use journals and publications to advance intellectual debates, wider cultures used mass media to advance fiction. One of my favorite examples of popular culture communicating with itself is Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same, a lengthy concert recording interspersed with cuts of the sky-high Zeppelin members running around with swords, climbing mountains, and meeting with time-wizards.
As nice as computer illustrations can be, it’s hard to mistake them for real paintings or drawings. Subtle mistakes and signature marks inevitable when working in physical spaces create a unique quality that the digital world can’t replicate. Since the 70s and 80s were devoid of graphically sophisticated computers, they were perhaps the pinnacle of cover design.Have you ever wandered through a Barnes and Noble wondering what the hell half the books were about because all of the covers were just vague designs and pictures of ordinary objects? A hat. A striped pattern with cut-out letters layered on top. What information exactly are we to glean from such lazy graphic design? It just makes you miss the days when covers were a little more on-the-nose, you know? Here’s why I think things will never be quite the same as the time of 80s fantasy covers.

Sometimes art, technology, and culture converge into a perfect environment for creativity to arise. For book and poster art, the 80s (and late 70s) were such a time. While previous decades were still experimenting with clunky color photography and print methods, the 80s had nailed color in film, photography, and printing. Later decades would rely overconfidently on computer technology, resulting in an abundance of crappy attempts at 3D rendering and graphic design.

These days, a book can become wildly successful without even having a cover. If you gather enough five-star reviews on Amazon and build enough of a buzz on the internet, someone is sure to buy your work. Recall — each of the books in the Game of Thrones series is printed with a title, the author’s name, and a single item set against a colored background. Still, these books managed to become incredibly successful. Would they have been without the help of the internet? Who knows. I think not.
In The 80s, book covers were the best ads you could get. They served as plot summaries and book reviews all at once. I used to go to my local library in the 90s and spend what seemed like hours staring at a rack of fantasy and sci-fi books from a decade earlier. These books must be incredible if the cover artists are so talented, my growing mind told me. Of course, at least half of them were probably terrible and those I read all the way through didn’t stick with me through the years.

In the 1980s, books featuring classic 80s fantasy covers soon proliferated to an almost ridiculous degree, far surpassing those with muted science fiction art. This trend declined in the years beyond, however, as Harry Potter and other mega giants skyrocketed into the popular stratosphere. Looking for ways to modernize themselves, authors did away with fancy covers in favor of toned-down, stylized looks. Today, this is mostly what you’ll find on bookstore shelves. You can still find the odd retro cover, but such encounters are sadly rare.
Robert Plant was known to sing about The Lord of the Rings every once in a while, but he wasn’t writing any fantasy novels of his own. Instead, he and the other band members used the medium they had access to create a story in the best way they could. As I did years later, thousands of young people moved by the music must have then taken an interest in the subjects the band had featured, thus completing a cross-media feedback loop.By the 80s, creative society had long been limited by black and white mediums. Television, news, and radio were relatively dull, and only the most imaginative storytelling or journalistic efforts managed to viscerally convey the subjects they presented.

What are the most famous sci-fi themes?
As the 20th century dawned, many of science fiction’s most common themes—space travel, time travel, utopias and dystopias, and encounters with alien beings—bore British postmarks.
From ancient times until the modern era, painting and drawing were sophisticated art forms that only those who didn’t need to be plowing fields or laying bricks could afford to partake in. Today, a busy graphic designer can churn out reasonably high-quality illustrations in much less time and for much less money. While some would argue that we have it better now, others might say that nothing really beats creating something with your hands.It was only after globalization had earnestly begun that serious fiction and folk fantasies began to converge. After World War I showed the world the terror of unmitigated conflict, unprecedented communication between nations came into being. Fantasy and science fiction magazines provided platforms for creative young writers to express themselves. In time, sword and sorcery stories from disparate places congealed into a single genre with a few recognizable elements.

How many chapters should a sci-fi book have?
Fiction books On average, twenty to thirty is a pretty good benchmark for most novels. If you’re plotting your novel writing process using your favourite story structure, you might find setting a goal for a certain number of chapters can help you break down each section of your book more effectively.
Legions of space heroes dressed in astronaut white explore blue, green, and red planets. Rebel armies wear nature-inspired hues and dream of a better world for future generations to inherit. Big Brother orders society to conform so we get matching uniforms and careers based on singular personality traits. And don’t forget about the villains! In the future, bad guys wear black—unless they’re robots, in which case, chrome is acceptable.

This book cover is reminiscent of the Twilight Zone, with its curvy font layered on top of abstract grayscale imagery. Doubleday published the book in 1968.
George Orwell is Penguin’s all-time bestselling author. He published his classic sci-fi novel, Nineteen eighty-four, in 1954. Germona Facetti later agreed to create this “eye-conic” cover design for the book.