I was browsing my local Barnes & Noble recently and happened upon a display table of their new, “Leatherbound Classics” library-edition series. They’re stunningly lovely books—but what caught my eye was the sheer number of speculative writers and genre “classics” included in the series, right next to Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, and Crime and Punishment. Collections like H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction were sharing space with an omnibus edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods with Anansi Boys, and that one was catty-corner to Sense and Sensibility.
Of course, it’s not only the inclusion of a ton of SF books in a series of handsome, sturdy library editions where normally they wouldn’t be present, though that’s great for the collectors and book-gifters out there. (And, frankly, aren’t we all at least a little partial to pretty versions of books we already love?) The delightful, handsome covers that graced them—and the equally delightful prices, ranging from $20-30 dollars, in most cases for multiple book omnibuses with quality bindings—were triply awesome.
The cover illustration for H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction was the first thing that I noticed on the display table, and I’ll admit, I bought a copy. Generally, covers of Lovecraft collections go for images of the tentacular horrors contained within, or disquieting paintings of atrocities. Not so, here. This photo doesn’t quite do the cover justice, because in real life the cosmic image is subtle foil, and seems not to leap out at the eye but draw one, inescapably, in—eerie, and perhaps the first time I’ve found a cover for a Lovecraft collection truly appropriate.
Then there’s the interior fish-people illustration, which brings the art full circle.
But wait, there’s more!
C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia:
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy:
A three-novel collection of Stephen King, including Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining:
Seven novels from H. G. Wells:
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Anansi Boys:
Douglas Adams’ Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and The Golden Apples of the Sun:
…as well as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, seven novels by Jules Verne, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and a handful of mythology collections, including Hans Christian Anderson, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and a book of Arthurian legends.
I don’t often wax poetic about book covers, but this lot is handsome and affordable; a great way to build up a library of classics, science fiction and otherwise.
Brit Mandelo is a writer, critic, and editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide. Also, comics. She can be found on Twitter or her website.