Revealing the Cover for Brett Savory’s A Perfect Machine

We’re pleased to share the cover for Brett Savory’s inventive, disturbing, and unforgettable sci-fi thriller, A Perfect Machine—publishing February 2017 from Angry Robot. Learn more about the novel and check out the full cover—designed by Erik Mohr—below!

From the catalog copy:

Henry Kyllo is a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. A Runner whose goal is to achieve full-body lead content. He is chased through the city every day by Hunters whose goal is to shoot the Runners — with the threat to both sides that if they do not participate, through a mysterious force no one understands, one of their loved ones will simply vanish from the face of the earth.

Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves “ascension”, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure.

Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again. This time, to Henry Kyllo.


From designer Erik Mohr:

When I was approached to work on Brett’s book, I was so excited—the story was intense, the characters rich and the violence epic. Perfect. I loved the idea of a character transforming into a robot from within, and wreaking havoc on the city.

I wanted to focus on this anti-hero. I tried to imagine what he would look like. In the book, Henry is confused by his transformation. I like the idea of an introspective monster portrait, so I started there.

I drew heavily on contemporary science fiction movie posters: dramatic lighting, deep blues and greens, lens flares, etc. I wanted to steer clear of SF clichés or obvious hyper-violent imagery to drive the story, and keep the reflective mood of the writing.

Boy Eating

I purposely kept the type out of the equation at the beginning stage. I focused on getting the image conveying the right mood. The first draft was a dramatic night scene. Playing with the scale of the growing figure and the setting of night city skyline, I really liked where this image was headed. Unfortunately, the figure looked too much like an astronaut, so I thought I’d come at it from a different angle. I instead focused on a tighter portrait. Once I started on the portrait, I tried to imagine what turning into a robot would actually look like. I experimented with gears pushing through the jaw and neck, and the skin stretching as the robot parts expand from the inside out. But then I took it a bit too far by adding a ruined city in the background. It started looking like the clichéd SF cover I wanted to avoid.


So, back to the drawing board. This time I tried to capture a moment of self-reflection as Henry gives in to the robot transformation. The smoky texture and overlay of the night skyline kept the image mysterious and surreal.

Boy Eating

This version was really close. I circulated this illustration to Brett and Marc of Angry Robot. Marc found the colouring sickly and asked that I move the colour back to the blue values. We were getting so close that I thought it was a good time to test for type treatments on the tighter portrait with the blue colouring. I proposed four options.


The type treatments ranged from gritty and mechanical to SF, lens-flared, and sharp letter forms. In the end, we went with what Brett called the “blue steel” one. Haha. We thickened the type up a bit, made it a touch bigger, then I added a different version of the cityscape for the full cover flat. That was the keeper!

Perfect Machine final cover


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