Escher Meets Noir: Revealing Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows

Jeff Noon, author of the Vurt series, makes his mind-bending return to science fiction with A Man of Shadows—and we’re excited to share the cover! Set in an alternate 1959, a private detective finds himself caught between worlds of literal light and dark…

Check out the full cover by artist Will Staehle, plus some thoughts on the design from author Jeff Noon below!

Artist Will Staehle on the design process:

I was super excited about working on this cover even before Marc Gascoigne from Angry Robot sent over the full manuscript. I could tell just from his brief email pitch that the concept for the book was going to be jammed-packed with amazing visuals. As I began to read the actual book, I decided that I was really interested in a cover visual that showed our lead detective in one of the city’s stunning settings. The challenge became which setting to choose, and how to show a character ( or a few of the characters ) in context to the grand scale of the city.

I dabbled with a few designs that had stark contrasts of the bright and dark parts of the city ( sort of split covers ) but found it a bit challenging to make the type read.
I also tried a few more classic detective noir design options, and even a Saul Bass homage or two!

As far as the final cover, it was actually a bit of an unusual process for me. I sent over my initial round of designs to Marc, and mentioned that I also had one more design (a M.C. Escher-esque option) that I was still working on, but that it wasn’t quite clicking yet. Sight unseen, Marc asked me to push forward with that direction, and a day or two later, we had a final cover! I always enjoy working with Marc, and the fantastic authors over at Angry Robot, and this one was no different.

Author Jeff Noon on the final cover:

I was truly excited when I first saw the cover design for A Man Of Shadows. Will Staehle has caught the essence of the novel: the noir atmosphere, the loneliness of the characters, the nature of the invented city with its mirrored images of light and dark, and the Escher-like labyrinth that my private eye hero is trapped within. The story is set in an alternative 1959, and the cover captures both the period feel as well as the more fantastical elements of the book. I couldn’t ask for a better design. It’s perfect!


A Man of Shadows is available August 2nd from Angry Robot Books. From the catalog copy:

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.


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