HellSans: Exclusive cover reveal for upcoming dystopian thriller

We exclusively reveal the cover for Ever Dundas’ dystopian thriller HellSans and we speak to the author herself plus the cover’s designer and the book’s editor about creating a cover for a novel about a futuristic typeface…

HellSans

Corrupt governments, dystopian futures, and persecution… Ever Dundas’ HellSans has it all! The book is out this winter from Angry Robot but ahead of that, we’re delighted to reveal its cover by designer Kate Cromwell!

Set in a fictional UK, HellSans explores a world where governmental and public communication cause bliss to the majority of the population, but a severe allergic reaction to the minority. This ubiquitous typeface is the ultimate control device, marginalising and outcasting people. The HellSans Allergic (HSAs) are persecuted, and live on the streets or in a ghetto on the outskirts of the capital city.

Jane Ward, CEO of the company that manufactures the Inex (a cyborg doll-like creature that has replaced the smart phone as the essential aid and accessory) has everything: fame and fortune, until she falls ill with the allergy and becomes embroiled in the government’s internal power struggles. She loses her job and her wealth, ending up in the ghetto until she is rescued by Dr Icho Smith. 

Icho is a scientist who has developed a cure for the allergy, but she is on the run from the government and the Seraphs (the ghetto ‘terrorist’ group), who all have their own agenda for the cure. Jane and Icho must work together, aiming to expose government corruption and bring the cure to the HSAs.

Seeing as HellSans is centered around the haves and have-nots, the book can be read from different perspectives and has been written in three parts, and readers can choose whether to start with part one or two! Bearing that in mind, and with a book also about a fictional font that induces certain reactions, it was incredibly important for the team at Angry Robot to get this cover right.

Being the curious folk we are at SciFiNow, we spoke to them about how they went about it…

“Working as a Designer for Angry Robot is always exciting, especially when the Editors bring creative ideas to the table too,” explains the cover’s designer Kate Cromwell. “I have been very fortunate to work with Commissioning Editor Simon Spanton on several titles over the last few months, the dynamic artwork for HellSans was based on his vision. Ever Dundas’s book presented me with a fun challenge as a designer, this is the first time I’ve had the chance to think about a fictional font. With Simon’s direction I drew on punk influences and created a visual divide between the two characters. The use of the negative space in the ’S’s was inspired by the clever vector illustrations of Noma Bar.”

Kate’s direction for the cover has clearly been a hit with the book’s author Ever Dundas: “For a book centred on a fictional typeface, it’s fantastic to have such an impactful cover that is dominated by a strong, assertive type,” she says. “I absolutely love the profiles in the lettering; it’s a nice touch, perfectly reflecting the two narratives/protagonists. The striking divide of the black and yellow, which has a punk feel to it, again indicates the two narratives, but also reflects the social divisions in the story. This is further highlighted in the abrasions on the black lettering, which give a lovely subtle suggestion of serifs. It’s a joy to see core aspects of the narrative reflected in such an arresting cover.”

Working with both Kate and Ever, editor Simon Spanton is pleased with how the cover has come together: “To have a book that spins out a satirical, sharp-cutting political fable from the idea of a particular typeface inducing a neurological response was always going to be an absolute gift for editor and designer alike. But I was also aware that, like every other cover, the cover for HellSans had to work for folk who knew nothing about the book and who, for this particular book, unlike perhaps the editor and the designer, weren’t going to be especially excited about typography…

“Happily both Ever and our designer, Kate, had really clear ideas from the get go about how to put the ideas of the book into a really striking and commercial cover that works at first glance. The idea of the typeface, the dual narrative of the book, the ideas of resistance and subversion are all there and so the cover starts off brilliant but, crucially, it also gets better and better the more you read. To have the brief come together in such a way is always the dream – it came true spectacularly here. Authors and designers are amazing – when they click like this it’s just awesome.”

HellSans by Ever Dundas is out 11th October 2022 from Angry Robot. Pre-order the book here.