Michael Cobley’s The Ascendant Stars

Michael Cobley’s The Ascendant Stars: The story behind the cover

The Ascendant Stars coverWith The Ascendant Stars released this month, we spoke to Bella Pagan, Commissioning Editor at Orbit, to find out the story behind the space opera cover.

“Illustrator Steve Stone and designer Peter Cotton have really put together a stunning look for these books. It’s everything we wanted and THE ASCENDANT STARS might just be the best of the lot. Getting a cover right can be nerve-wracking, as the final jacket is often perfected as you rush towards an unforgiving wall of deadline. But when you see the finished book it’s hugely rewarding. For this final volume we wanted a massive space fleet (which we got) and we also have a huge explosion (with added shockwaves) and a real feeling of excitement and drama. As Iain Banks said of the first book in this series, it really is ‘proper galaxy-spanning space opera.’

When creating a cover, we try hard to communicate the right messages to attract readers who are likely to enjoy the book. Here, the illustration, quotes, the positioning of the various elements and the type of font all count. In THE ASCENDANT STARS we chose a clear non-serif type as a good fit for an SF title, which has enough personality to be interesting, but not so much as to crowd the illustration. And on the illustration, we removed some superfluous ships and additional shockwaves in an earlier draft, as too much of a good thing can mean clutter. We have just seconds to make an impression as a reader sees the book from across a crowded room or shrunk down on a webpage. Here, months of work are tested in a few moments. Imagine editor and designer in full camo crouched behind a hillock with their night-sights focused on the wary browser. Are they moving into range? Are they scenting the book?! They’ve picked it up … Reading the back … SOLD! In truth, the publishing process is rarely this dramatic. But if you want drama, head for THE ASCENDANT STARS.”

The Ascendant Stars is out now.