Editorial: The Faces You Don’t See
The past few days, I’ve been working with Jason, the hard-working publisher behind The Apex Book of World SF, on the second volume of the anthology series. We’re at the layout and formatting and cover art stage, and…
I found out a curious thing.
The Apex Book of World SF 2 includes stories from all around the world, and as editor I tried to take a particular focus on African and South/Latin American fiction. I was lucky enough to get stories from Cuba and Mexico and Brazil, and from South Africa and Malawi and Nigeria – and it occurred to me that I very much wanted that reflected in the cover art.
We tend, for budgetary reasons, to search for an existing piece of art – on places like DeviantArt and others – rather than commission an original piece, and I figured it surely can’t be very hard to find what I needed.
I was wrong.
I wanted either African or South American science fiction art. The first volume featured a futuristic Asian city on the cover. I thought I’d quite like some sort of African SF cover this time. I wanted, to put it somewhat bluntly, black faces on the cover.
It is, of course, quite possible I am doing something wrong. But my experience so far has been that science fiction art features almost no black faces, that in fact the vast majority shows white people, and aliens.
Well, we all know who the aliens are.
There are exceptions, of course. And people have been pointing them out to me – rather pointlessly, as it happens, since I was already aware of them – the great covers done by Angry Robot Books, for instance, for Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City or Maurice Broaddus’ King Maker, or Apex’s own cover for Chesya Burke’s new collection, Let’s Play White (you need this book!). Or the cover of Cherie Priest’s Clementine. The March 2011 issue of Lightspeed Magazine, with a rare Latino face on the cover.
The point was these covers were a) specially commissioned and b) were the exception – the very notable exception – rather than the rule.
Where is the sci fi art with black astronauts, with African futuristic cities, am I just looking in the wrong place?
To paraphrase The Sixth Sense - I see white people, all the time.
So, this editorial, this post, is an appeal. Help us find the art we’re looking for. This is, to me, more than about finding a cover for the next Apex Book of World SF, now. It’s about finding this art, period. But, of course, we’re specifically looking for cover art for the next anthology.
So, send us your recs. Send us links. Send us art. Post comments here or e-mail us at email@example.com. If you’d like to do a piece especially for us, we can talk, but as I said we have a small budget and we really, really want to open this up to as many people as possible. In short, rather than commission one cover, we’d like to see a lot of covers.
Give us examples of recent covers you liked! And we’ll post them here during the coming days.
And spread the word. Let’s talk about this. Most importantly – let’s see some cool skiffi art!
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