Japanese Cover for The Last Colony

This is what it looks like:

A couple of notes:

1. I’m pretty sure hot pants aren’t exactly practical attire on a colony world.

2. Likewise, a tuxedo jacket and a frilled shirt.

3. I suspect the artist may have not gotten the note that John and Jane are not supposed to be green in this book.

4. I don’t remember writing about big metal blimps.

But, hey. In Germany, it’s lasers and spaceships. In Japan, hot pants and tuxes. I assume the local art directors know their audience, and I’m willing to let them do what’s best to help get books in the hands of reader. But for the record: Jane Sagan: Not generally a hot pants sort of person. She is, however, quite handy with a knife.

63 thoughts on “Japanese Cover for The Last Colony

  1. But damn, those are good hotpants. Although I’m wondering if the artist knows any women…the proportions seem a tad off. And when I say a tad, I mean, “Her boobs start around her stomach.”

  2. Interesting how the Japanese transliterate your name. It looks more like Skolji to me (lit : sukorujii) – but to be fair I haven’t heard the true, that is to say your, pronunciation.

  3. So Scalzi, when do we get a book featuring women in hot pants and metal blimps?

  4. Jane’s boobs are surprisingly low. You would think that an artificially made body would have a better center of gravity…

  5. Rick Flynn: I don’t think Katakana has a ‘zi’ symbol, at least a commonly used one.

  6. Kati, yeah, I was just thinking that right boob doesn’t quite line up with where it normally would be expected. It’s low and almost centered.

    Also, I don’t know the story, but if your partner’s got an assault rifle aimed downline, put away your kbar and get a projectile weapon.

  7. uh, there was supposed to be a smiley face emoticon on the end of #8. not sure what happened. trying again.

    :)

  8. It looks like something very… video game ish. Maybe it’s because I play too many Japanese RPGs.

  9. HomieBear@1:

    The words on the cover state:

    The Last Star War
    Old Man and Space 3
    John Scalzi
    Translated by Uchida Masayuki

    No, I have no idea why “colony” turned into “star war”.

  10. That doesn’t look like the green I always imagined Jane having when she was green. I think it’s the green Japanese artists use for caucasian skin.

  11. See, I think Jane would be all about the hot pants if she could be convinced of their strategic importance.

  12. I think it’s a sign that the artist would prefer that you start writing about this version of jane.

  13. Jane (and her boobs) look just fine to me. John, on the other hand looks like a twit.

    (Of course this means I may get to star in the next book when she dumps him.)

  14. Tom @#2: Glad it’s not just me. it makes me wonder if the artist has actually seen a naked woman outside of anime or manga.

  15. I think John’s supposed to be in a sweater of some kind, not a tuxedo shirt. Looks more like sweater ribs to me.

    No matter though, it will certainly appeal to the anime crowd over there.

  16. I love international covers! The inclusion of things that totally aren’t in the book… I always wonder if it’s a translator taking liberties. Does their version have blimps?

    Just a note: they don’t look green on my color-calibrated monitor. Maybe a little bit at Jane’s hairline, and John’s right cheek, but mostly they look very pale with a bit of beige/gold. The shadows on Jane’s legs have a touch of blue tone, but that’s generally correct for shadows.

  17. You know, if Jane wants to wear hotpants, I don’t see any reason to argue with her. Because I like breathing, is all I’m saying.

    I having much more of a problem with the pic of John. I really don’t see the essential characterization of him as being the kind of guy to hide behind a gun. It just doesn’t work for me to have that be the pic on the cover.

  18. Wow, the guy from Final Fantasy looks startled that someone nailed fake breasts to him. The breasts appear to be upset about it as well; they’re making a break for it, low and to his left.

    Gabriel Byrne is just savouring the scent of his assault rifle.

  19. The Last Colony comments next…

    I am a little confused on what happened near the end of chapter 7 of The Last Colony. There was an incident with Hiram Yoder and a stone knife, but seemed to survive. Right away the next section Trujillo mentions that 6 died, including Yoder. Abrupt change from one section to the next.

  20. Since I always interpolate younger versions of you and Krissy into the parts of John and Jane, the hot pants thing is throwing me for a loop. Baseball bat wielding, yes, hot pants, no.

    Also, I think one of Jane’s breasts has migrated to the center of her torso. Not sure why…

  21. I can’t help but think you should get in touch and complain. This is one of the ugliest book covers I have seen in my life, and makes The Last Colony look like the trashiest pulp in the world to boot. I’m not sure cultural differences stretch quite that far in this era.

  22. Miko: It’s not a great cover, but he could do a lot worse. He could have a Baen cover. (Don’t get me wrong, Baen publishes a lot of awesome books, but I think some of their cover choices have had me wincing. Like 90% of the Vorkosigan books.)

    Exhibit A: http://www.webscription.net/chapters/0743436164/0743436164.htm?blurb (Conceptually, not bad as it takes into account the dualistic nature of the main character’s roles, but the art is wince-worthy.)

    Or he could have a Darrell K. Sweet cover. (DKS has had some perfectly nice line art in the Shannara books, but his covers recently have all been phoned in. Witness the monstrosity that is The Gathering Storm cover: http://www.suvudu.com/2009/05/the-gathering-storm-cover.html)

    Or he could have repurposed art that appeared on Piers Anthony’s original english books and the german versions of OTHER science fiction books:
    http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n0/n4821.jpg

    So, really it could be worse. Lots worse.

  23. I’m curious, John. How much control do you have with your translated, perhaps re-imagined, books? I mean, I love the French cover for Zoe, but think the cover for The Lost Colony is . . . unprofessional. It looks like the went with whatever sci-fi pic was available, perhaps the cheapest. And the translation of the title is off. But I lived in Japan for a year, used to how their corporations run. The Japanese are stuck in fast-forward mode . . . no patience for accurate dipictions of an American novel.

  24. At first, I thought the artist had made a good attempt at not giving in to the common contemporary error of drawing boobs of larger size too high. But as many people commented on it, I looked at the cover again, and it’s certainly overcorrecting for it. And the right boob is too medial.

    However, I think the primary problem with the image is that she’s too tall for her width. That creates fundamental scale problems. Shorten a bit from slightly below the neck and it gets much better.

    Otherwise: perfectly typical for Japan.

  25. And the gun . . . huh!? The dirigibles look something out of Robinson’s Mars, the girl out of a William Gibson novel, the guy from a Robert Ludlum novel, the grassy plain from the last episode of Battlestar Galactica.

  26. John, I’m sorry you don’t like it (For me, it kinda looks like the manga version of what I was imagining when the second conclave fleet tried to take Roanoke) but how could the artist know what any of the characters look like? there’s very little in the way of visual descriptions of anything in your books – we don’t know what any of the spaceships, people, aliens etc look like. You didn’t write about big metal blimps, but then, you gave no other description for CDF or conclave ships, so they *could* look like that. who knows?

    As for the green skin, I think the skin looks green-tinged but not actually green – as if it’s a normal skin but seen in a greenish light. Could be an artistic choice (limiting the color palette of the cover) or a clue they are on another planet.

  27. She’s holding that knife like she just finished chopping the onions.

    That German cover was too fun. I would have bought the book.

  28. What boobs? Her boobs are totally concealed by the two big metal amulets she’s wearing around her neck. Maybe they’re the eggs from the giant metal birds in the sky behind her?

    Seriously, I think it’s generic manga-based artwork only tangentially related to humans, or the book. Small head, funny nose, dot eyes… manga. And the guy scratching his nose on the gun butt… manga.

  29. Handy with a knife, huh?

    So she may not be the hot pants sort, but if the situation calls for hot pants, then she has the means to acquire them at a moment’s notice.

  30. Miko:

    The book comes out in two weeks, which means they’ve already been printed and are ready to ship. Even if I had a mind to complain, which I don’t, it’s too late.

    R.J. McIsaac:

    Typically speaking, I have the same amount of input on covers in other countries as I do here, which is to say, none whatsoever.

  31. Hmmm, I suppose you could say it’s Zoe. But I don’t remember any mention of the twin portable flotation devices on her, either.

  32. Actually, the cover looks like a Masamune Shirow piece. Shirow is the creator of several of Japan’s biggest science fiction franchises, like Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell. They’re probably trying to reach his audience with this cover. Considering how well-written Ghost in the Shell is, that’s not bad company to be in at all.

  33. With 400+ ships in the Conclave Fleet from 400+ species, I trust the range of design aesthetic is a pantone of industrial-scale death. One of the species would have had the good taste to go with “Metal Blimp.”

  34. With those hot pants and the stylish tux, it looks like someone interrupted Date Night… Those poor aliens, they had to invade on the night John finally convinced Jane to play a little dress up.

  35. Hm, yeah, the guy is sniffing his assault rifle. Worse yet, the buttstock is on top of his shoulder (or even on the outside of his arm), rather than planted in the crux of his shoulder. Depending on the amount of recoil, if he pulls the trigger in that position, the rifle will kick up and break his nose.

  36. I was looking for a goof thread to ask this, hopefully this comes close.

    Old man’s War, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale are all available in ebook editions from lots of places but The Ghost Brigades is not.

    Any chance of it becoming available any time soon?

    Thanks.

  37. I was at WisCon this year, and one of my favorite panels was “Bad Cover Design”, of course poor Charles Stross won worst cover with Saturn’s Children. You may get an honorable mention with that one if they do it again next year. Elizabeth Bear got some honorable mentions as one of the most egregious cases of “decapatated lady” in Hammered, Worldwired, and Scardown. The theory goes that if the person on the cover has no head the book buyer will imagine their own head on it.

    It’s a pity that authors don’t get more control over cover design, if anyone should get some input on the process it’s the writer of the book.

  38. My girlfriend just translated the Japanese cover for me:

    1st line, red: Last Colony
    2nd line, yellow: Old Man and Universe 3
    3rd line, white: John Scalzi
    4th line, white: Shozi Uchida Translation
    5th line, bottom white: Hayakawa Publisher

    The character UJU is kind of ambiguous: universe, galaxies, or outer space
    Japanese/Korean don’t contain articles (a, an, the)

  39. Pixelfish @#29 and #30:
    Whoa, those are seriuosly aweful covers. My eyes are still burning.

    Daniel @#48.
    Hotpants are appropriate if you’re not the one having to wear them.

  40. Just noticed the typo “seriously”. I’ve been awake too long (since 4:30). My spelling/typing is degrading rapidly.

  41. I think I know what happened with the proportions of Jane Sagan: The artist started drawing from the head, worked his way down to the breasts . . . and then abruptly realized that he’d made her too tall, and if he kept going in proportion he wasn’t going to be able to fit the full effect of the hot-pants onto the page (it looks to me like the breasts would be fine if her torso was about 50% longer and the right arm was more forward). So he shortened up the torso and moved up arm up and back to get more leg showing, and then just . . . couldn’t. . . bring . . . himself to reduce the breasts to match. So they stayed. Simple!

  42. “But for the record: Jane Sagan: Not generally a hot pants sort of person. She is, however, quite handy with a knife.”

    I thought you were going to say “She is, however, quite hot!

  43. Well, it’s a man and a woman, they’re fighting together. So that’s sort of relevant.

  44. This nicely illustrates a fact of life. If they can’t get a single image right from an entire book, why would we think there is any way they could make a movie from a book and have it even vaguely resemble the written version? I’m happy if the movie is entertaining.

  45. The hot pants are cool.

    But that doesn’t look like a standard issue Colonial Union rifle (!)

  46. hi john!

    ich schreibe dir auf deutsch, da ich ja gelesen habe, dass du dies deiner aussage nach, noch sehr gut verstehst und mein englisch nicht so gut ist, wie ich es mit wünschen würde.
    zunächst einmal ein großes lob vorneweg für deine bücher, welche ich immer wieder gerne lese.
    mein lieblingsbuch von dir ist androidenträume.
    ich muß zugeben, dass ich am kiosk erst durch das laserfeuernde raumschiff auf krieg der klone aufmerksam geworden bin – auch wenn der bezug zum buch mangelhaft ist.
    aber sieh es doch einmal so – jeder braucht sein markenzeichen und wenn ich ein scalzi-buch suche, schau ich von ferne erst einmal nach laserfeuernden raumschiffen am cover….
    wäre old mans war – krieg der alten männer benannt worden, hätte jeder einen aufstand im altersheim vermutet.
    spass beiseite – ich finde deine arbeit toll bitte weiter so!!

  47. It’s at times like this when I feel the need to express my heartfelt thanks for the random post button; there may theoretically be a superior way to perform a neat swallow dive into the expanding concentric, and sometimes overlapping, rings of “covers we have loved and loathed”, but I’m not betting on it, and the fact that I was brought here from “The Loving Mallet of Correction” cover is obviously highly significant in the great scheme of things.

    Admittedly, the best I can manage is Shakespeare’s “there’s a divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may”, which certainly applies to Jane’s hot pants, and Scalzi does seem to be wearing remarkably tight trousers in midair with Mallet. I am, of course, open to suggestions…

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