For going on two years now I’ve tried to read a fiction novel a week. Sometimes this is easy, because I choose a fiction novel that is slightly over a hundred pages long. Other times this is more difficult, because the book is a 700 page manifesto. It also doesn’t help that while most people choose authors they are familiar with topics and settings that they are comfortable with, the stories I read are literally all over the place. One day I’m reading a seemingly standard “another world” novel and the next day it’s gay literotica. I’m like a kid at an all-you-can-eat buffet who knows his parents are going to beat him if he doesn’t get “their money’s worth” so he’s gonna load his plate up with everything.
One of the bright sides to this unusual way of approaching this hobby is that I’ve read a lot of books that, based on reviews, other people haven’t. Some of these books I’ve reviewed in the past on this very blog. Others, I write a short Amazon review and move on. Given this, I thought it would be neat to look at some authors that for one reason or another I could recommend, but who others might overlook because of the artwork featured on the front. Indeed, while the popular saying is to “Never judge a book by its cover” literally everyone does. Let me see if I can get some authors a second look.
Notice: for the covers, I’ll be linking to Amazon listings. These are affiliate links, and a purchase made from them may benefit the website financially.
Author: Alexander McCarty
Website: Sphere of Compassion
Book Cover Example:
Mr. McCarty’s works are incredibly niche. His “The Main Character!” series reads like a classic Youtube Abridged series, and are very over the top. In my review, I mentioned that it “doesn’t have the right to be as funny as it is” and I stand by that. I laughed out loud more times than I should have. The humor is all derived from overused tropes from Japanese animated media, however, so if that’s not your bag the whole shtick falls apart and you’re going to be left wondering why the main character is acting like a teenager but keeps saying he’s only 4 years old (spoilers: Leap Year, an anime reference). I did not think highly of this book’s cover because the text is kind of hard to read and I don’t know what’s going on with the main character’s hair (spoilers: another anime reference). Several of his other books also have very amateur artwork and unusual font choices. That said, for the reader he’s going for, Alexander McCarty knocks it out of the ballpark. As an aside, the author is pretty well known not just in the OEL community, but is really into something called “vegan animal liberation activism.” Hit him up, he’ll tell you all about it.
Author: Kit Falbo
Book Cover Example:
Kit Falbo’s works read like poetry, which can be a little daunting at times but always paints pretty interesting worlds with clashing elements that enhance a story. That can be hard to tell from some of his cover choices, where there’s no real idea of what’s going on or what to expect. They’re artistic. To a fault? I don’t think so, but it’s a thing I’ve heard a few people point out. I’ve reviewed two of Mr. Falbo’s books on this website before (Crafting of Chess, Intelligence Block) and I still think very highly of them. I’m rather fond of The Card Job as well, which is literally a book about a guy who plays an immersive game full of unlimited possibilities but he’s only interested in one specific element of it to the detriment of all others, and the game’s AI doesn’t really like that.
Author: Gary L M Martin
Website: Amazon About Author Page
Book Cover Example: Since I’ve linked the Amazon Page, you can see them all there. They’re something.
I have a weird relationship with Gary Martin’s works. I tell myself I don’t like them, and indeed there’s something to criticize in every one I’ve read. Their value in page per dollar ends up feeling less like a bargain and more like signing up for a marathon. But they’re all distinctly pulp fiction with a tendency to go towards science fiction, with a flair one might expect from truly old school authors like L. Ron Hubbard or Frank Herbert. Just… longer. And more Libertarian. Also, some of the things those two authors have written haven’t aged well at all, and Mr. Martin is continuing to explore those themes in similar, “problematic” ways.
And yet, either in spite of those things or because of them, they are absolutely unique in how they approach their world building and the events that take place in them. From dystopian futures where men are forced to wear anal tampons to make things equal for all sexes to travelling back in time to ensuring the rich people flee the Titanic while an enemy force mows down potential survivors with gunfire in an attempt to make the present day more financially equal, nothing is safe.
I find it amusing that to this day, people leave reviews of his works that complain about the sex. Not that the scenes are poorly written, although that was a critique I discussed in my longform review of Sleeping with Hitler’s Wife, but that people are complaining there’s sex at all. Like, seriously, how can you look at those book covers and go “I’ll bet there’s not gonna be any promiscuity here!” It’s like I’m over here wondering if I can get through a 900 page book, which the author assures me is an “easy read,” and if I’ll get the enjoyment out of it that one would expect for that kind of commitment, and people are complaining about the smut that the covers make very clear is going to be featured.
I’ve only ever revised two reviews for a book on Amazon before and Mr. Martin’s was one of them.
Featured Image developed with the website crello.com.