The Zero Stone, with a cover by Jeff Jones

This was the first all-white cover that I remember seeing in the science fiction section. Yes, there had been some spy novel and thriller covers that were all white. (James Bama comes to mind. Another artist I’ll get to soon.) Even some racy murder mysteries. But none that I felt were as unforgettable as this one.

I’ll admit, I didn’t read this book. It works so well, this cover still makes me want to read it. That’s the goal, of course, but Jeff Jones has gone beyond just giving a taste of the novel. He’s taken us somewhere special: to a mystery world that, when given just enough of the right imagery, we start daydreaming about. It’s enough to keep us coming back to the cover.

He’s taken three items and woven them together—while they are floating. Where’s the light source? Doesn’t matter here. Jones has portrayed the idea of floating in endless white space through not only the placement of the elements in relation to each other, but in the way they are angled. The body language of the figure tells us he’s swimming through ether. The angle of the boots adds a ballet balance to the gesture, while the hand suggests a tenuous need to reach the approaching vessel.

Facing the character away from the audience is usually a cardinal sin in the world of staging, but Jones has only added to the mystery by facing him away. We don’t even get to see the astronaut’s accoutrement, as his gun is holstered and hidden.

And look! He brought his cat. Even the cat snubs us, as cats are known to do.

This is one of my all-time favorites from Jeff, but perhaps I’m biased. I’m a sucker for astronauts in bubble helmets. Especially with an antennae.

Greg Manchess is an artist living and working in Portland and New York. He is currently writing his first novel.


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