Every once in a while, I am irked by a tone of superiority that comes through some sources — such as my first-year undergrad English short fiction anthology — about genre fiction as not having high literary standards. Part of me reacts and says that these people have clearly never read Ray Bradbury or J. R. R. Tolkien!
Given that sometimes you come across a cover of Bradbury that looks like this, I’m starting to see why people of refined taste steer clear of SF:
I don’t know that ‘poetic science fiction’ or ‘literature of outstanding quality’ are phrases that this cover would ever make a person think. No doubt these bad covers are the real reason Margaret Atwood (author of SF titles The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake) claims not to write science fiction. This tactic, however, has failed:
Both of these shockingly horrible covers are to be found at the amazing website Good Show Sir, where you can view hundreds of the worst covers in science fiction and fantasy from around the world.
It is a website full or wonder. Or terror. Or horror. Or befuddlement. Good, high-quality SF gets such terrible, loathsome covers. So does bad SF. But these strange and bizarre covers are certainly a force behind the rejection of SF as a genre of high literature by the literati. Who would willingly subject him’erself to such monstrosities, not knowing whether the contents of the book outstripped the cover in terms of worthiness?
Nonetheless, I encourage you to visit Good Show Sir and view the monstrosities. It’s worth a laugh and may consume your day …