Sci-Fi Cover Art: The Good, The Bad, and The Totally Bizarre

So we found ourselves clicking through images of romance novel covers the other day. (You never know where the Internet is gonna take you on a given afternoon.) The experience fast descended into a tawdry smear of heaving bosoms, broad-shouldered lotharios, bad mullets, gauzy gowns, too-tight loin cloths, extraordinary pectoral abundance, and various states and stages of seduction and swoon. But with a couple (possibly satirical) exceptions (one with the hero reclining next to three piglets, another featuring a man with a heart-shaped medallion and an over-sized feline), the covers blurred together, almost interchangeable. They featured simple variations on location (pirate ships, beaches, meadows, cliffs), dress (kilts, negligees, satin sheets, birthday suits), hair color, and size of raised font.

From romance covers we moved on to science fiction, wondering if sci-fi cover art might offer more. And holy moly, what we started seeing was bizarre, hilarious, campy, creepy, striking, surreal, sometimes sexy, and extremely cool. Flying saucers, planetary landscapes, lots of rockets, babes in inter-galactic distress, alien monsters, cyborg enemies, and on and on. The covers we came across were sinister, lovely, and completely ridiculous. Below, a selection of some of the sci-fi cover stand-outs. … Read More

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Books That Rocked Your World at 16 But Fall Flat Now

We all have a few: the books we read when we were young that altered everything. These were the world-changers, the reality-definers, the stories you died over, gushed to your friends about, pushed into the hands of boyfriends and girlfriends, urgently, sincerely. They were pivotal, inspirational, important.

And then: you grow up a bit and return to the books that started a revolution in the way you existed in the world, the ones you thought would change you ever-after, and you think, oh, goddammit, that’s what had me so hot-and-bothered? And this is fine, this is natural. You were changed for a time, and changed again. You get older, you learn some things. Which is not to say the books below ought be avoided altogether. No, these are a few of the books that knocked you off the roof when you were a kid, that fall flat to re-read right now (plus a few suggestions on grown-up alternatives). … Read More

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Fictional Feasts: Mouth-Watering Moments of Literary Gastronomy

Watch Man Vs. Food before bed and you go to sleep craving French dipped sandwiches and face-sized burgers with cheese injected into the middle of the meat. (Adam Richman, what a charmer.) Certain scenes from fiction can get your belly growling, too. When food is done right in writing, you experience it with all your senses and strange cravings are inspired. Below, some of the most memorable food moments in fiction. … Read More

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Dirty Old (Literary) Men: The Top 10 of Writing’s Filthiest Pervert Geniuses

There has been a lot of talk about books and sex in this space lately, and it’s not just because of yesterday’s holiday. Anyone who has taken English 101 knows that literature has its share of dirty old men — the lascivious, the leering, and the lewd, the men who concern themselves with the baser instincts and darker drives, the author equivalent of the creep in the corner, stroking his chin and staring at the rears of the teenagers. Herein, some of the dirtiest, most salacious and scandalous men in letters, a list of the Top 10 Dirty Old Literary Men. … Read More

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Good Writing, Bad Sex: The Best Sex Scenes About the Worst Sex

If we’re being honest: Sometimes sex is bad. It’s not always fireworks. It’s not always trumpeting and transcendent. Cosmic couplings, two-bodies-as-one, those sorts of rolls in the hay don’t happen every time you hit it. Thundering mind-annihilating orgasms are elusive.

And sometimes sex is bad in books — but we’re not talking the Bad Sex in Fiction of the infamous award. We’re not talking nipples like rodent noses or penises like pile-drivers (thanks, Rowan Somerville and Nick Cave). Nope, we’re talking about sex scenes in literature that explore the times when sex is sad, when it’s mournful, melancholy, desperate, violent, lonely, regrettable, necessary, inevitable. The times that leave you emptier than you’d started. These passages eschew the air-brushed fantasy for the messy truth (which is not to say these scenes aren’t erotic in their own ways). Below, the best of bad sex. … Read More

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