Cover Reveal: Starter Villain

John Scalzi

Tor Books has a history of giving my novels some pretty terrific covers, and, hey, guess what? They’ve done it again! Please enjoy the cover of Starter Villain, featuring, as it does, a tremendous executive-level cat. And, yes, cats are integral to the plot of the novel. How? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Let me just say, however, that if you’re a fan of cats, you will not be disappointed.

Let us take a moment now to give proper attention to the artist behind this cover, the Chesley Award-winning Tristan Elwell. Elwell has done book covers for publishers from A(von) to at least T(or Books), as well other illustration work for newspapers, magazines, game companies and advertising firms. He did a truly spectacular job here creating the sort of hagiographic oil painting you would find in a Fortune 500 boardroom, with a cat, and I could not be happier with it.

As a reminder, Starter Villain will be out in the world on September 19, 2023 in the US/Canada and 21 September 2023 in the UK (where it will have a different but equally fabulous cover). You can pre-order the book now at your favorite bookseller (including your local bookstore, trust me, they will be very happy to take your pre-order). Options for ordering signed copies are being considered and will be announced if and when they are finalized. Otherwise, and as always, any questions you have about various iterations of the book and its availability are answered in my new book FAQ.

I’m very excited about this book and there are lots of interesting things going on with it behind the scenes. I can’t wait to share this book with you all. In the meantime: Hey, look! A cover!

— JS

35 Comments on “Cover Reveal: Starter Villain”

  1. I am thinking back to the talk on the JoCo Cruise about book covers and find the topic interesting. This one is certainly compelling!

  2. “And, yes, cats are integral to the plot of the novel. How? You’ll have to read the book to find out. ”

    Until I hear otherwise, presumably four months from now, I’m assuming you’re expanding on the idea that the white cat was the true head of SPECTRE and that’s why all the guys playing Blofeld kept changing. The cat just kept replacing the figureheads as Bond kept killing them.

    I’m envisioning a secret cabal of evil cats that rule the villain world through their human pawns.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really expect that to be what we get. And I’m a terrible fiction writers, so I can’t even work up a satisfactory fanfiction version of this.

  3. Brit here – why will the UK version have a different cover? Slightly disappointet not to have a cover featuring such a splendid feline…

  4. Honestly, even if I had never heard of you, I would buy that book just for the cover! (Instead I’ll be buying for my ever-growing Scalzi Collection!)

  5. FYI, my local library already has 42 holds on the ebook. Not bad, Scalzi.

  6. If I wasn’t already inclined to check out anything new you write, this cover would convince me to. Guess the cover does its job.

  7. The coming end of Summer won’t sting as much now, knowing that in September we get a new book from you.

  8. I recently introduced your books to my friend Joe. He’d been hearing me talk about you for years–as you might recall, for a while my wife was so sick of me talking about you that she forbid your name in our house–and he LOVED Kaiju. He’s now torn through almost every one of your books.

    Considering he owns 4 Maine Coons, I think he’ll be very pleased with everything about this announcement.

  9. John, sorry if I’ve missed it – have you announced an audiobook reader yet?

  10. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Mr. Elwell had somehow managed to get hold of a photo of one of my cats for source material, because DOGGONE does that face ever look familiar.

    My spouse has already pre-ordered Starter Villain for us, and whenever you figure out the process for getting autographed copies, I’ll order one for my sibling’s holiday gift this year. Thanks for making my holiday list a little easier!

  11. Which of your (current and previous) cats does cover cat look the most like?

  12. I was looking forward to this book based on the strength of your previous work, and then you drop this cover? Quit digging, you struck oil already.

  13. But will the story have more than two cats in it with major roles? And will they act like cats to some degree or will they be humans in cat suits?

  14. I love the cover. What a handsome villain.
    He probably has trouble with people wanting to pet and hug him. Until they let down their guard. ;>)

  15. One of the most compelling painted portraits for a book cover since Communion. At least Starter Villain won’t give me nightmares like Communion.

  16. I’m certain the cat is innocent of any and all crimes. He has been unjustly accused… just wook at dat widdle face!

  17. At the risk of making the world’s most obvious comment, I can’t believe it’s not Smudge.

  18. I love it! I’ve seen that expression on my cat and it never bodes well. What a perfect cover!

  19. OMG what a great cover!
    Is that a painting and will you be acquiring it?

  20. I told people that Kaiju had the best cover ever, and now there’s this one! Looking forward to it.

  21. The new boss looks like he’s had enough of this nonsense. I’m very familiar with that expression from my cats.

  22. I got an email from Subterranean Press to order Starter Villain and ordered it. Then I saw the cover!!! So cool. I am now impatient for September

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