There’s a saying about whether or not you should judge a book by its cover. I forget what the verdict is, but I figure there’s a fifty-percent chance that you’re totally supposed to do it. And really, with the covers of these three books I picked up at the thrift store, it’s pretty clear what the publishers intended me to think.


First up is The Genesis Quest, which gives us (what seems to be) a girl with a fairly boyish haircut petting some kind of alien thing, which is duly petting her back. This rather quid pro quo-minded alien has a friend watching its back (though I’m not sure it has one), or perhaps simply guarding the, um… I guess it’s a tunnel cut into some kind of massive tree? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the entrance to Tree World, the least exciting theme park since Formica Land. Or maybe it’s the entrance to an alien dentist’s office; this would explain the potted plant on the bottom left.

Seriously, what’s with the potted plant? There’s clearly a free-range plant growing in the bottom right, not to mention the enormous goddam tree you could drive a Volkswagon through that probably has an observation deck at the top where you can put quarters into those big binoculars-things and look around what is presumably a lush forest, so do we really need to introduce non-native flora?

Obviously, the real draw of this cover is meant to be the aliens themselves. I guess these things are giant vertebrae with banana-peel tentacles coming out either end? And I guess they’re into androgynous children and office décor.

Judging by the cover, I give The Genesis Quest 8 stars.







Next up is Starwolf, with cover art worthy of any of those NES space-shooter games I never bothered to play. Eh, I guess I could see this adorning The Guardian Legend, which my old roommate swore by. But even so, I still never bothered to play it.

Anyway, Starwolf has it all: a spaceship that looks like a hairdryer; a mob of lanky, toga-clad aliens; and what appears to be an alien basketball arena (judging by the ice mountains, it’s reasonable to guess that they play their hockey outdoors). Behind the arena, you can see exciting, futuristic grain silos! To the right, you’ll find a wedding cake — er, nuclear power plant with upside-down cooling towers!

The guy in the front, well, I’ma call him Starwolf. Starwolf got lost on the way to the set of Battlestar Galactica and ended up on an ice planet, being chased by a mob of lanky, toga-clad basketball fans. Starwolf is such a dumbass that he chose to hide behind some knee-high rocks and point his laser bayonet away from the basketball mob.

(Why is there a sight scope on that laser bayonet, anyway?)


Actually, ol’ Starwolf is pulling off the pretty neat trick of standing with one foot on the ground and the other in the void of space, and for that, I give Starwolf 11 stars. And 1 wolf.





Finally, we have The Time of the Dark, which probably could’ve just been called Nighttime, but oh well.

This is a very direct cover that immediately conveys a situation we can all relate to: there’s a warrior-mage getting hammered in your aunt’s kitchen, and he’s just spilling chips and throwing newspapers all over the place. Oh, and he’s pissed to see you. Oh, and your aunt needs to wash the friggin’ dishes.

Right when you walk in, this warrior-mage — let’s call him Todd — starts insulting your wardrobe, because you aren’t wearing any copper medallions around your neck. Motherfuckin’ Todd’s wearing three. He’s also wearing that belt buckle you noticed in the window at Hot Topic. The top of his staff has what appears to be a candlestick with a shellacked rabbit head on it, so you know this guy’s been looting your aunt’s candlestick collection.

You start to ask Todd what he’s doing in your aunt’s kitchen, but he justs kicks potato chips at you and gets all mad because no one ever has his brand. You’d love to ask what’s up with Todd’s cleft left sandal, but by now you’ve figured out that the guy doesn’t hold his booze well, and he’s got a friggin’ sword. You couldn’t set the sword aside, Todd? Looks a little uncomfortable, sitting at the kitchen table with a sword on your belt. And don’t give me the “I just sat down” routine. Obviously you’ve been here a while.

For all this inanity, The Time of the Dark gets all the remaining stars in the universe, and 12 wolves.



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