I love my Czech covers. They are so METAL!

Lovci Nemesis

That is just too awesome.

While whiny Americans are crying about cismale gendernormative fascism, and pasty authors are contorting themselves into awkward poses to protest sexualized covers, the Czechs say screw it, we want more guns, hot babes, and monsters. I can hear the heavy metal soundtrack as I look at these covers.

The Czechs are like “Patriarchy? What is this word? Is the succubus not sexy enough? Wait… Cis what? Do you mean we should make the werewolves on fire? We can do that. Dmitri! More fire! Now, why does this flabby man pose in his underwear like sexy pole dancer? You do not want to appeal to people who give you money? America is strange place.”

I love the Czech Republic. You guys rock.

The others are the same way.

Lovci Legion

Lovci Alpha

Lovci Vendetta

Lovci International

Another anthology I'm in, Shared Nightmares, includes an excerpt of my story "Father's Day"
More details about my upcoming fantasy series

182 thoughts on “I love my Czech covers. They are so METAL!”

    1. To be fair, I think this “bestseller” (which I think has had its status upgraded due to being currently free to Amazon Prime members, and once it becomes #1 bestseller in its genre/sub-genre even more people see it due to that fact) appeals more to women readers than to male readers, unlike Larry’s books. I would be interested in this one, and yes, I am a woman.

      I would never have picked up Larry’s books based on their covers, simply because I would assume that they are not for me, but I found his website through a small article in World magazine on that whole Hugo controversy, read some of his blog entries, decided to look at his books, and discovered that I would very much like to read his Grimnoir Chronicles, as steampunk is right up my alley (as is the example of Lisa’s book, above.) I think my husband was a little amused at me reading Hard Magic based on that cover! Though even the above book is bound to get SJW ire, if you think about it. The girl appears to be white, attractive, and thin … gasp! (Yes, SJWs do judge a book by its cover!) I’m still surprised they haven’t gone after Hollywood for casting too many pretty people as good guys and less pretty people as bad guys, and leaving more ordinary people unrepresented!

      Thanks Larry, for helping me not to judge your book by its cover, when under its cover was a well-realized alternate world, easy-to-care-for characters, and an epic battle between good and evil, and, most of all, a fun time, which is what great entertainment is about.

      1. Leit, ha ha, true. The artist was probably trying to contrast the girl with the background and just used a Photoshop filter or something.

      2. JB, I think that’s my main critique about these covers and, to a lesser extent, the American covers. They’re trying so hard to appeal to a male audience that they almost tell a female audience (or the majority of it), “Move on, this book isn’t for you.” And that’s not a good representation of Larry’s writing and characters. Sure, there’s action and stuff, but his character development (of both male and female characters) is excellent and what really makes me fall in love with his writing. I’d seen his books several times on Audible before I finally picked one up because it was on a good sale.

        And actually, the SJWs do go after constant portrayals of thin as the only good body type. Isn’t that what ‘fat shaming’ is about, at least in part? They seem to go through cycles of what their pet outrage is on any given week. Though, strangely, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them go after plain vs. attractive, when other factors like weight and ethnicity aren’t under discussion.

    2. I like the cover. It doesn’t scream “monster killing gore fest” but maybe that’s not what it’s about. I will say this, though… despite her lack of oversized frontage, this is still a sexy cover.

      1. I think it’s a nice cover, too. I think, IIRC, this is one of the monthly freebie choices for Prime members this month, which is probably why it’s at the top of the list. I got it but haven’t read it. I think it’s a steampunk story about a woman with a clockwork heart or something. Sounds potentially interesting.

      2. Whatever else it is, it is not a cover designed to appeal to men who want action, guns, and dead monsters.

        Okay. And…?

  1. Those are pretty cool, but I will admit that, as a woman, these would appeal to me more if they didn’t try so hard to make the women sexy (with the implausible breasts and cleavage and all). The succubus would be an exception to this, since that’s kind of their thing.

    Also, I really can’t help reading the title as “Love Monster”, which makes me giggle.

    1. ‘Love Monster’ is fairly appropriate for the ‘Nemesis’ cover; what with the succubus and all (and, from what we know of Franks, he might qualify also. Lots of energy and stamina. Probably should stop this train of thought)

      1. True, and yet also, ew.

        Nothing against the offspring that resulted, but Franks/anyone is pretty darn nasty. “Can’t choose between necrophilia and literally consorting with demons? You’re in luck!” Naaaastyyyy. (And this coming from someone who loves a good vampire or werewolf love interest.)

        1. I don’t think Franks actually qualifies as dead/undead. Sure, he’s made from dead body-parts, but they’re all ‘purified’ by the Elixir, and animated by chemical energy (he does eat after all…a lot!), and presumably the cells divide and minor injuries repair themselves. Plus he even reproduces sexually, which appears beyond the powers of the undead.

          He’s certainly not “life as we know it”, but lumping him in with the undead doesn’t really work. If nothing else, going to MHI headquarters would’ve blown him up were he truly undead.

      2. I didn’t say he was undead, but he is made of dead people’s body parts. So having sex with him, a woman would be having sex with some dead guy’s penis without that dead guy’s consent. Sure, the guy’s dead so what does he care, but … it’s just gross. Think about it, say there’s a female agent whose brother also works at the agency. He dies, and it just happens to be at a time when Franks needs some body parts. Wouldn’t you think the odds that her having sex with Franks would go down at that point?

        I seriously had to wonder, though, wouldn’t his kids not look like him but like whoever previously owned his testicles? There must be some additional magic/science at work for his kids to inherit anything that’s unique to Franks himself.

        1. The Elixir apparently blends the DNA of all his parts-donors’, so his offspring won’t be the children of whoever he got his testicles from. More like a distant cousin.

          As for it being gross, or the original donor not consenting, well, I figure he’s just had lots and lots of transplants:-). We have real people who’ve gotten other people’s bits grafted on after all, possibly including penii (I’m not going to research that…sorry:-P). It’s not like they graft on stuff that they dig out of graveyards after all. Textual evidence implies that all Franks’ new organs and limbs are fairly fresh-off-the-source. No time for rot to have set in.

      3. Hardcore and violent as he is, I don’t think that Franks randomly rips pieces off of passerby and attaches them to himself. I assumed that when part of him wears out, he just waits for someone to die who has the appropriate intact body part. So I don’t actually see the big moral issue with the original ownership of his penis, or any other parts of his anatomy.

      1. IMO, Thunduh Ork should be the name of Moshes new band, and their first album should be called, “Get To Da Choppah!!!”

  2. It’s a pity so few things from that neck of the woods get translated. They tend to operate according to the same fundamental principles that governs their cover art. More or less the way Luc Besson has firmly decided that the height of cinematIc art had been achieved by the US 80s action movies and the only way to improve them would to to remove unnecessary dialogue and plotting that gets in the way of exploding stuff and ninja-fighting. Respect.

    1. Yeah, I think Divoci a zli (Wild and Evil) and Nocni klub (Night Club) from Jiri Kulhanek would sell well. His series fall off in the last parts of the last books, but there is fucking awesome beginning. Just the blurb from back of the Night Club 1:

      Do you want to survive one thousand years? Then you should be reading this book. If you don’t want to – here’s good news for you, graveyard plots will get quite cheaper. First half of the new book series from Jiri Kulhanek is full of unrelenting words, unrelenting secret organizations, unrelenting killers, unrelenting black humor and we cannot forget as unrelenting recipe for longevity. But for those of you who’d prefer economical place under the yew, don’t hang your heads, we won’t forget you in the next one thousand years.

      And I’d love for readers elsewhere to read superb books from Miroslav Zamboch about Tobias, exile nobleman swordsman with vivid love for life and everything beautiful. And him being quite good killer he needs that just to stay sane. These books are awesome, world building is just… just in another league.

      Were there ever some translations of Czech SF/F authors to English? I don’t know about any to be honest.

      1. Blain if you like Kulhanek you should try Miroslav Zamboch too. SOme of his books are awsome. I think you would love Lihen (hatchery) – first book is much better than second, Predatori (predators), Visio in Extremis and In Nomine Sanguinis. But angain as far as I know its only in czech an polish.

    1. Covers were made by Petr Willert.

      And Grimnoir chronicles are freshly translated so works on cover just started.

      1. I finished translation last Monday.
        Grimnoir is now on waiting corrector/editors list so it would be probably published as one of first 2015 books in January.

    2. In fact it was fun, Larry, you are one of the best translatable authors I ever worked on – great story, no unhealthy obsession with idioms, rich language (Czech is more sensitive on repeating words then English) and interesting puns, like PT abbreviation in Legion (thank to it they were Pervert dancers in our edition in one case with no similar PT Czech words).

      Just your Grimnoir glossary was like living hell for me in some cases so if milk around your house turned black sometimes during last month, now you know from where curses originated. 😉

      1. Grimnoir uses so much period American slang that I can only imagine that was one hell of a challenge. 🙂


      2. OMG, Jakub! Thanks for translating Larry for us! I am looking forward Grimnoir in Czech so much. Don’t you know when can we expect it? Have you went back in our history for periodic feel in our language? I have no linguistic background, so I am not sure if modern Czech is different from Czech 90 years ago. Or did you dug deeper, back to the nineteenth century for Czech still “infected” with German?

  3. Dear international lord of hate:

    You should have the Czech guys do all your covers from now on. (I know you won’t but, your current illustrators need to feel the heat. Thus, they may be inclined to draw less clothing next time.)

    1. Only if the clothing is less on the men, too. Equal opportunity objectification, yo. (I would not mind a shirtless Trip on the cover. Just saying.)

  4. Can you import those versions to America? I’ll buy a special collectors set- maybe 2, if I can get it in time for Christrmas.

  5. As a woman, I LIKE seeing those hyper-sexual men and women characters on the covers of these terrific books . What Larry has done is create a vivid fantasy world and it is peopled with perfect heroes and despicable villains. So this 64 year old can still be a 24 year ‘hot ticket’ at least in MY fantasy world – oh, and in the ones Larry has created for me.

    I know perfectly well who is looking back at me from the mirror, it isn’t the person that men would look at and say “Wow, what a stunner”. But in my mind, I can be that gorgeous creature! I AM that gorgeous creature. I am certain that men have the same reaction. They become Sullivan or Franks, or Owen, whether or not they were like those men ‘once upon a youthful time’, that is the joy of fantasy.

    Droning on about the tragedy that ‘real women’ are not used on covers, is just cant new-age feminist nonsense. Naah. I say make them knockouts.

    While I will continue to wait for Larry to ‘steal’ me, I suspect I will be waiting for a very long time. That is, unless he wants me for my VERY cool tractor named K-Rex. (For those not in the know, that is Kubota-Rex – WHO doesn’t have a fantasy world!!)

    1. Well, I’m not sure if the critics know what a “real woman” looks like either…

      Did you see Elle’s new “plus-sized” model?


    2. Interesting. Thanks for your perspective, Jan. We seem to have different reactions to ‘hot babes’ in books. Personally, I find that when characters are described or portrayed in various ways, I find it can serve to distance me from the characters. I’m trying to say this in a way that makes sense. I don’t really identify or feel the need to identify with characters in order to enjoy the story, but, say, if there’s a woman who’s described as tall (like many of the ones in Larry’s stories), part of my internal reaction is, “Oh, I’m tall. It’s nice to see tall women portrayed in this favorable way.” When a character shares several traits with me (like maybe she’s tall, my age-ish, and has my hair color and build), I ‘identify’ even more with the character. It’s a superficial identification, of course. A first-impression level identification. But it can help me have an initially favorable impression of the person.

      On the other hand, if in a book the only women who are portrayed as tough, capable, and/or love interests are beautiful women, I find it distances me emotionally somewhat. Because I know that I’m not beautiful, as most women are not beautiful in the way books/movies portray. I’m the outsider looking on (which is fine, as that’s generally how I view most characters), but it doesn’t make me feel like I’m the tough, beautiful heroine. It distances me, is what I’m trying to say, rather than drawing me in.

      It’s quite interesting to me, the way different people relate to stories. And it’s true, people like the heroes/heroines of their stories, generally speaking, to be good-looking people. Nothing wrong with that. I do it myself in my own stories, though I think it’s better when a variety of attractiveness is portrayed, rather than just “all women must have big boobs to be beautiful and all men must be super-muscular to be handsome”.

      If a cover has a man on it that’s given equal sexiness treatment as the woman, I don’t mind the sexy woman. Where it starts to annoy me is when the man is not sexualized at all (fully clothed with only his face showing skin) and the woman obviously is (and this level of cleavage does count as being sexualized because obviously it’s meant to appeal sexually to the male viewer). It’s the double standard that rankles me. (In contrast, I think that the American MHI covers portray the women as beautiful without sexualizing them/her or making her seem like any less of a cool character in her own right. It’s a fine line sometimes.)

      1. Shawna, as an extremely sexy, tall muscular man with great hair, I am tired of being sexualised.

        “I’m not some kind of love monster!”, I’ll say to my wife, as she grabs the Kindle off me and demands that I ravish her for the fifth time in an evening. Honestly, I don’t know where we would put any more kids, unless I move into the garden shed.

        It’s not just the wife though – reflective surfaces are a constant hazard. If I catch a glimpse of my soulful, brooding green eyes in the rear view mirror of my car while driving, there’s a good chance I’ll hit the kerb.

        So I’m glad the men on book covers aren’t as sexy as me. It’s a welcome respite. I know how poor Grant Jefferson or Thomas Raith must feel.

      2. Steve, I’m not sure if there’s some point you’re trying to make. If so, you might want to state it more clearly because I’m honestly not sure how your post is a response to mine.

        Sometimes I wonder if the people on this blog are so used to enthusiastically agreeing with anything Larry says that even something that’s a respectful, minor disagreement is met with mockery. (And I say that as someone who generally agrees with what he says.)

      3. Shawna, (I can’t directly reply to your comment below).

        It was just a wee joke. No mockery intended.

        Though I am available for part time modelling work if Larry’s publisher needs sexier men on the next batch covers. I will Blue Steel the shit out of them.

      4. Thanks for the clarification, Steve. With the internet, tone is difficult to read sometimes.

        You know what would be funny? To see someone do a version of the MHI covers in a more female-oriented sexy style. If I had any artistic skills, I might attempt it, but alas. (I’m thinking combat-sexy Julie holding a gun and looking tough, with sexy Owen slightly behind her, shirt ripped up and bloody, holding a severed werewolf head. And maybe some fire/explosions behind them.)

      5. I get what you are saying – I have a very ‘childish’ ability to just dump myself into a story and ‘be’ there, whether the heroine or the Playful (not actually ugly, but definitely not leading lady material) Sidekick.

        I absolutely identify with most of the competent type of women in Larry’s books. Being a lifetime member of the Tomboy club, I tend to be more comfortable at Home Depot or Tractor Supply, than, say Dillards.

        Do all women want to be beautiful? Well, I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t mind, but that reminds me of something a really great actress once said that stuck with me:

        “If offered the choice between sex appeal and money, choose money. It will become your sex-appeal as you age.” –Katharine Helpburn

        But… couldn’t I have just a little real sex-appeal?!!?

        Fair Winds

        Cap’n Jan

      6. I’m not tall but my name is Julie. 🙂

        I don’t mind the cleavage on the covers at all. I wouldn’t mind not having it either. I do think that, in general, male characters are also sexualized it’s just that we do that differently with men, there are different visual cues.

      7. Julie – I keep hoping we’ll see Milo’s wife make an appearance some time, because I have a feeling I’d like her. 😉

        I think that artists sexualize men and women differently, depending on if they’re trying to appeal to a male or female audience. Compare the hugely muscular guys on action covers to the muscular but leaner guys on romance novel covers. Men’s idealized view of men is big and muscular, and whether they have a nice face doesn’t really enter into the equation. In fact, make them too pretty and the macho manly type of men don’t like it. Women want the guys to have a nice face if they’re meant to find them attractive. IMO, the most blatant example of what I’m talking about is character design in World of Warcraft, which is very clearly made by men for men and women are the dubiously-welcome guests. And then contrast the imagery you see there with the almost entirely women-dominated romance genre. It definitely happens to both men and women, but it happens in different ways depending on the intended audience.

      8. Shawna, I was talking to a romance author who knew her cover artist and knew he was gay. I’m not saying this because there is something wrong with that, but because, honestly, sometimes those romance covers feature guys that are a bit pretty for my taste. But yes, you’re right I’m sure. What guys want to imagine they are is different from what women want to look at.

        Bottom line, I think, is that none of it is supposed to be realistic, it’s supposed to be fantasy. When it comes to pictures (or game builds) of women, there is a line between “I’d love to look that good, even if it’s unrealistic” and “dear gawd how does she stand upright.”

      9. Julie –

        There is a fair bit of crossover between what straight women like men to look like and what gay men like men to look like, but there’s also, in my opinion, a clear distinction in many cases. (As far as romance cover guys being too pretty, I’d say that I think they’re nice to look at, but I tend to consider people that beautiful to be almost a different species than myself. As far as personal preference, I like a ‘cute’ look for guys rather than a ‘pretty’ or ‘rugged’ look. More of a ‘boy next door’ type, I guess you’d say. And that’s a type who really doesn’t get to star in romance novels, sadly.)

        As far as the designs being fantasy, it’s really mostly about equal opportunity for me. If guys can make women they consider to be super hot chicks, I want to be able to make male characters that are super hot. WoW does not offer this. SWTOR does, which is one reason I prefer that game. (SWTOR also provides equal opportunity, or close to it, for skimpy gear and also for non-skimpy gear. So I can dress my male skimpy if I want and I don’t have to dress my female skimpy if I don’t want. Guys who defend skimpy female gear in games talk about wanting to just enjoy the game how they want to enjoy it. All I’m saying is I like having equal chance at that.)

        As far as the designs on book covers being fantasy … I feel like that’s a more complicated issue because covers have to say things about the book, so there are more factors involved.

      10. @ Shawna and Julie

        did a quick bodysketch for the two pinup-types. I was planning to do – male and female – but haven’t decided yet if I will put them in tigerskins, or skimpy chainmail. Thoughts? (these are very rough and I will clean them up much more.)

        I love seeing abs on men, but damn they’re hard to draw, for me. Women are easier simply because I can get up, strike the pose… or as close to it as I can get… in front of a mirror, and remember it in my head. One of the things I did notice is that I can put women in lots of really interesting poses to maximize attractiveness. For pinup poses, men don’t have that many, alas. I’ll cheerfully concede to the master of that (Luis Royo, IMO) for making men who look very sexy.

        For the moment though I’m gonna lie down on the couch. The boy is kicking me breathless, as revenge for today’s ultrasound. guh.

      11. Shadowdancer, either one would probably look good, but I’d vote for tigerskins just because it’s less often done.

        I’m not an artist, but it seems like the tricky thing is that women have curves that lend them to easy posing whereas men tend to be squarish with less implication of movement in a static pose. Unless you actually had a well-built man to pose sexily for you, I could see how it’d be hard to come up with different poses. There are one or two I follow on Deviantart who sure are good at it, though.

      1. The guy just looks to elvish to me… Maybe a little less pretty? (But then again, I like the somewhat savage look ;->)

        By the way, I just love your art!! Even the pretty boys!!

      2. You brought the subject up by listing exact dimensions, and I asked a follow-up question about the original canvas size for that sketch (which you don’t mention) because I am curious about canvas sizes. Do you know the original canvas sizes for those Lineage II pieces you mentioned?

        I was just reading about the canvas sizes Jaime Jasso used in his 3D 16 bit illustrations for IMAX on the Avatar film.

        1. The original canvas size I worked with is the one with the 15+k pixel width.

          The original canvas sizes for the Lineage II pieces, I vaguely remember being at least 4800… I can’t remember height or width though. It’s been almost 8 years. I do remember they were 600 dpi, since they were often used for billboard-sized banners and promotional things. Deviantart doesn’t like 600 dpi though.

          What were the canvas sizes Jaime Jasso used? I’m curious.

      3. 15,000 px on the longest side. He said they were by far the largest he’d ever worked with. The final renders presented were 4,000 px on the long side. They are very intricate, like the slower-than-light ship shown against Pandora’s landscape, a fantastic piece. Jasso is incredible.

        That’s why I was surprised when you mentioned 15k px. That must yield a monstrous file around 500 or 600 mb. That would slow a lot of computers to a halt and compromise the jitter on brushes.

        I’d be interested in knowing what canvas size the Final Fantasy artists use since their art is a cross between flat cartoon manga art and incredibly detailed Jasso-type art, right down to faint skin blemishes.

        We’re having a slight confusion of terminology. When you say “height or width,” that 4800 you mention IS one of those. “Resolution” is never size, never pixel dimensions, it is only ever “PPI,” (pixels per inch) like 72 or 300, etc. Sometimes people still use the old “DPI” (dots per inch) from the old printing days.

        As a comparison, the default size for RAW files on a pro camera is around 5000 px wide (but often larger now) and 300 PPI, and that 5,000 is what stock agencies usually ask for, but in JPEG. Amateur cameras also have about the same size, but in JPEG. That’s why Facebook defaults photos you load to no larger than 900 px wide no matter the original size, cuz otherwise people sometimes put giant photos on without sizing them down. Facebook also defaults them to 72 PPI, though they will retain their apparent sharpness if they are originally 300 PPI. I’ve had friends try and send friends JPEGs by email that are 5,000 px wide and they couldn’t figure out why it took forever to send 40 of them. Sometimes you want to retain a certain size, but most people just want something their friends can look at on a screen, maybe 600 px wide.

        It all gets a little confusing sometimes.

  6. Cap’n Jan: You got the WHOLE POINT of fiction. Fiction is supposed to be bigger than life. Just like we don’t need to know where Franks got his last ???? He ain’t real. BUT- his concept is. We don’t go to the SFWA for a book because who wants to be a “Troubled ?sexual’ I don’t mind reading about a proud ?sexual; even if the whole idea of ?sexual is outside my taste. A hero is the above average man or woman. I like the song Jane Russell sang in the movie ‘the Tall Men’ (my case women) when I read and obviously so do the people who make the CZ, my favorite pistol. Hat’s off to both of you.

  7. So, Larry, is there a reason you’re NOT petitioning Baen to release the covers for the American versions? And if there is, I’m telling you right now it’s not a good enough reason.

  8. To quote someone (David Drake?) “The point of a book’s cover is to sell the book, and furthermore to sell it to the audience which will enjoy it.” Those Czech covers look like two-fisted monster fighting fun.

  9. These are great. I love the babes with guns and the awesome Punisher/Mad Max influenced pose in the last one.

    Skippy’s looking surprisingly buff!

        1. I guess its’ my own mental cues. Goblins would be more wiry and scrawny to me, orcs are bigger, more fitting of the ‘pig’ description that tend to be used to describe them. And yes, that ranges from the overweight look to the “ohshi- wild boar run run run!” idea.

      1. I agree, Shadowdancer. Skippy looks pretty much as I’d expect him to. (Although actually, maybe I imagine Edward looking that way and Skippy looking slightly smaller/thinner. For some reason I can’t quite pinpoint. Maybe because piloting doesn’t seem like it would lend to as much muscle building as fighting.)

        1. I expect Edward to be MORE tightly wiry, actually. Less bodybuilding and more compact muscle, because swordfighting using slender blades seem to result in less bodybuilding but tighter, lithe builds.

          Skippy, being the leader of his tribe, I’d expect to look pretty buff, not just because of the bulk I’d see as a result of “I lift lots of heavy things” but as something expected as a display of strength for a warrior leader. That’s just me though.

          *dreamy smile* I remember when Rhys got out of basic. From wiry, slender looking martial artist to broad-chested, thickly muscled limbs… Didn’t recognize him from a distance at the airport until he tipped his head a certain way and I saw him flash that smile.

  10. Talk to your Czech publishers about posters for sale! These are good.

    And maybe Baen might need a new cover artist in their stable. Admittedly it might be difficult to work with overseas folks, but this style and this ability to portray actual action scenes is like sales wanting to happen.

    1. Can I get a set of high-res JPEGs of these anywhere? Pleeaasssee??? Koruna or Dollars, I don’t care!

      Thank you for your time and attention.

      1. Sorry to disappoint, I kind of searched the net for the author and there are two guys in artistic community by that name. One is photographer who has galleries and contact info and the other is this illustrator. Who doesn’t have webpage or devart or even facebook.

      2. For some reason it’s not accepting my posts with links.. Put into google Monster Lovci and click ‘images’. Then Set parameters to Large size only. Gives you a few links.

  11. See, my problem isn’t that the cover is too serialized, it’s just that Julie is smart enough to armor up, so these depictions don’t seem quite right to me.

      1. Chain-mail clearance! 40% off black leather! Buy one pair (bleep)-me shoes, get a whip FREE; two pairs, free bunion surgery!

    1. Well, chainmail bikinis have a +3 distraction bonus to AC, but the leather has a +2 distraction bonus AND a +2 armour bonus, lower encumbrance, and lower armour check penalty. Also, rogues, barbarians, and druids can use it without penalty.

      (Can you tell I play D&D?)

      1. I sure can; I didn’t understand a word of that!

        I started reading Larry’s site during the Great Chain-mail Bikini Battle. I was upset that such a long tradition would be banned by scolds and was pleased to find a professional writer who agreed with me.

    2. On an only semi-related topic… I recently discovered that Star Wars TOR (an MMO) now has an outfit you can buy where the legs are just a metal bikini. Even on the men. I immediately started a Trooper and dressed him in that with all other gear invisible. I plan to make his entire Trooper squad fight in nothing but metal bikinis (except robot and maybe the woman). It’ll be interesting to see how much “Ew, that’s so gross!” harassment I get from insecure/hypocritical male gamers. (It’s not gross. It’s kind of hot and a lot hilarious.)

      1. If you insist, I’ll try to come up with something, though I don’t have a blog or much of a web presence. (Maybe I could tweet it.)

      2. There are skimpy outfits in SWTOR, but several of them are for female characters only.

        I think some of the ones available via the Cartel Market can be used by either sex, though. “Expert Fighter” is one, IIRC.

        Forex can’t wear any of the armors and there are only a couple customizations for him, IIRC. That’s pretty much the same for the other droid companions.

        Whether you put Elara Dorne in a bikini or not, she’ll still cite all the uniform regulations you’ve violated. 😉

      3. Hm. There *is* some armor types you could combine with Jori Daragon loincloth that would look like a diver. Though sadly the “backpack” parts of some torso armors can’t be detached to act like the scuba tanks.

      4. Hey, Shadowdancer: http://s46.photobucket.com/user/MetalBikini/library/

        (I hope that link works okay. I don’t use photobucket much.) Sorry it’s somewhat limited. I just started the character, so I only just got the first companion. (I think when I get the female companion, I might make her the only one wearing full armor.)

        This whole thing makes me giggle way more than it probably should.

      5. Just noticed this, and pfft…

        You ain’t got NUTHIN’!

        Final Fantasy XI, in the level 1-15 range, had the infamous Bronze and Brass Subligars. Imagine the game, just a couple of weeks after launch (and again after the NA launch), and three-quarters of the players – male and female – wearing what is essentially a bikini bottom.

        Spellcasters (Black Mage and White Mage *only* at launch; more later) couldn’t wear it, and had regular pants instead. But everyone else could. And for most of the classes, they were the best in slot items (which at those levels, largely meant a high Defense value).

        And then at level 20, you could use Conquest Points to purchase the identically appearing Legionnaire Subligar, which was best in slot for melee dps. And at level 25 you could improve it (with some luck) to the Republic Subligar, which was again best in slot.

        While there were other items labeled ‘subligars’ that became wearable at higher levels, starting at around level 15 the subligars (aside from the two mentioned in the previous paragraph) started including leggings. So no more bare legs.

  12. Feminism: the haunting fear that some white guy, somewhere, is enjoying himself. Especially if a chain-mail bikini is involved. And who in their right mind would take chain-mail bikinis seriously? Harrumph.

    Also on matters sartorial, Larry’s hero in the first picture should consider wearing work clothes, rather than his Sunday suit, to go monster-hunting.

    1. The chain-mail bikini issue is actually more complicated than that, but it doesn’t sound like you really want to enter into a discussion on that topic.

      1. It’s a Frank Frazetta-free zone due to hysterical and one-sided definitions of sexism by daffy feminists. What’s complicated about that? The entire Golden Age of SF is persona non grata for the same reasons. The entire thing. They talk about Heinlein and Asimov like some people talk about Mussolini.

      2. The problem is that by discounting the entire concept of the argument because of the radical feminists, those on the side of white male gamers refuse to acknowledge that there may be a middle area of more reasonable criticisms which are held even by women on their own side.

      3. Such as those of us who are less about wanting to stop men from having fun and more about wanting to be able to have fun ourselves (hence my comments elsewhere here about equal skimpiness options for male and females, and equal ability to even make characters who look good at all). It annoys me when all the skimpy options are female-only, and none for male. Would it not annoy you if all the skimpy clothing was worn by well-built pretty-boy characters and all the female characters were ugly, muscular women in full-body armor?

        If we’re talking about gaming rather than book covers (and do please clarify if you prefer to talk about this issue as it concerns book covers), then surely you have to at least acknowledge that some sexism exists in MMOs, right? I am a casual gamer, but even I’ve experienced sexism from other gamers that made me want to take a baseball bat to some kneecaps. Where *their* sexism was interfering and even blocking *my* enjoyment of the game. I’m sure if you asked, most women gamers could tell you stories of this happening to some extent. Denying sexism happens in games at all is just naive. However, those sexist idiots are in the minority, from my experience. I’ve had plenty more positive and respectful interactions with players in-game.

      4. If the way women were dressed annoyed me I would draw them myself rather than expecting people I’ve never met to pie-chart the universe to suit me. This is how needs are filled. Necessity is the mother of invention.

        Generally speaking, short of hate speech and violence, I don’t care what millions of strangers do and millions of strangers don’t care what I think about what they do.

      5. Live and let live. There’s my discussion.

        Read Mixon’s blog about the RH thing. They are more hysterical than crowds of up to 500,000 Arab-Egyptians I was with on multiple days during the Egyptian revolution who saw their country on perhaps the brink of civil war. No one knew what would happen.

        The SJWs also hate me more, which is easy to say since I ran into not one rude person in Tahrir Square while receiving buckets of vile internet hatred from Nebula and Hugo nominees on a daily basis for my whiteness, colonialism and cis-normative male toxicity.

        How worked up am I supposed to get over damsels-in-distress in gaming? Security forces were targeting my eyes with birdshot. Those PC radfem morons should try that “safe-space” on for size. They’d be defecating on the walls of the American embassy while begging to be evacuated out. That’s if they didn’t faint from micro-aggressions and PTSD.

        The funny thing is that if SJWs ran their privilege-patter past a crowd of Egyptians those precious Muslim PoC would likely kick their asses and then have a nice glass of tea with me.

      6. James, this is kind of what I mean. You don’t want to have a discussion because you’re not listening to what I’m saying. I’m not defending the SJWs or talking about any of their recent kerfluffles. I’m just talking about my own thoughts based on my own observations and experiences. You’re so eager to lump anyone who disagrees with you in with SJWs that you’re not hearing what I’m saying.

      7. I hearing you. You said some guys don’t treat you with respect. That is evidence there is sexism. Who ever said there was no disrespect towards women… anywhere? There are always rude people somewhere.

        What is there to discuss exactly? I’m baffled by what you’re even talking about.

      8. “What is there to discuss exactly? I’m baffled by what you’re even talking about.”

        That’s my point exactly. You’ve refused to acknowledge some of the points I made or issues I talked about, have not answered the questions I posed, and redirect the conversation to your own problems with SJWs. It’s obvious you don’t want to actually hear my views on any of these issues, so I’ll stop wasting my time.

      9. Actually, James, I thought about this a little more, and I realized that first we need to back up and have you answer one question.

        Do you think that people who partake in a certain entertainment (be it books, games, whatever) should be able to discuss in a critical way things that they would like to see changed or think could be improved with that entertainment? If not, then you need to tell the whole internet that they’ve been interneting wrong. Except that would be a violation of the “live and let live” policy, which means you should probably just get off the internet. If you do think such discussion should be allowed, then answering me by saying “live and let live”, which in this case seems to mean “either just enjoy it as it is or don’t partake in it” doesn’t really apply.

    2. Remember, racist sexist cismale gendernormative is intersectionalspeak for 14th amendment. They don’t like that.

      And I think every cover should be some variation of a dinosaur attacking a submarine.

      1. Sigh…. Dinosaurs do NOT look hot in chain-mail bikinis. Neither do submarines, so where does that leave us? Giggle-snort. Give me Franks. Or say, Sullivan (oh, Larry, you write such GREAT characters! Bad boys!!! As Lee Child’s says, Character is King in writing).

        To me, and this is to me only: Fantasy is exactly that. My very active imagination allows me to totally ignore all of the ‘issues’ with a chain-mail bikini, or other ‘hot’ body armor. Particularly as my ‘settings’ tend to involve the oceans – even stainless can rust when it gets oily from skin contact. But not in MY fantasy world. It can gleam!

        For me, and this is for me only: I never get ‘sticky-crotch syndrome’ when my fantasy world takes me on long hunting trips on horseback with, oh, Franks, say, through the Rockies, even though there is danged limited access to showers.

        There was a popular novel from the 70’s most young ‘feminists’ probably have never heard of called “Fear of Flying”. In said novel was the ‘fantasy’ of the zipless f**k (trying to keep it cleanish, Larry).** The point is, sometimes fantasy trumps reality. Well, more often than sometimes, actually. You can just wish away all that pesky stuff that gets in the way of having a good time. No STD’s, no unwanted pregnancy, no sticky-crotch, no… sand (eeeehhh!!!), no sticks and stones. No freezing cold. Fantasy. I can be a 24 year old blonde bombshell once again.

        ** By the way “Fear of Flying” was from the era of ‘second wave’ feminism. Most men I know have got no problems with women ’embracing’ their sexuality. It is the victim mongering and blaming every single man for every single paper cut to their delicate sensibilities that men, and me too, have got some serious issues with. So guys, PLEASE don’t assume all women are “Flukes” (joke, get it?). There are a great number of us standing there with you, and we’d be laughing at the stupidity, if it weren’t so very sad.

      2. Don’t forget, Jan, the types of radical feminists you describe are not only the enemies of all males on the planet, but of any females who don’t bow to their prescribed attitudes and join them in the warlock hunt. They’re just as angry at us for being gender traitors as they are for white males for being white and male.

      3. Boy, Shawna, you are so right. I’m so sick of the whiney, group-think that exudes from those spoiled little children that I could scream. They are the enemy.

        The annoying thing to me is that I consider myself a feminist. Certainly first-wave and for the most part second-wave. I was in Engineering school when I was the only ‘girl’ in thermogoddamics – the Prof of which told me I could not possibly pass his course. I hated that guy, but I got over it and I passed. That was a LOOOONG time ago. Still, I got there because I had a first-wave feminist Mumma (she worked too, but Dad was King of her world) and a Dad who knew by the time I was 2 or 3 that I wasn’t ever going to run on that standard ‘girl track’. We are all different, every one of us.

        There are issues that affect women. BIG issues. But these femi-babies conflate savage rape with their little ‘sensibilities’ being offended by some guy looking at them, or gasp!! offering to buy them a drink. An offer to buy a drink is a world apart from the savagery of rape. Rape is a world apart from brutality and finality of murder. (I can hear the shrieks now. “Rape is the mostest awfullest thing EVARRRR!!!!”. Sigh… Really? Awful yes, rape is a tragedy, and savage. But I don’t have to even invoke my imagination to negate that statement.)

        In their perfect world, femi-babies could walk anywhere at any time day or night, dressed in anything that they want to wear, say chain-mail bikinis as we are on the subject, and be ‘safe’ from any male’s glance. (Mommy, he LOOKED at me, punish him!!!) The reality is that walking ‘anywhere’ may get you hurt, or dead. MOST of the world is unsafe FOR WOMEN – full of no-go zones. We happen to live in one of the most female-friendly places in this world. But we still must be situationally aware. There are no-go zones even in America and always have been. To ignore that is either simple-mindedness or willful stupidity. I believe it is the latter.

        So, Shawna, I am absolutely standing at your side.

        I’m not being too articulate here as I am hungry, so as a Texas woman, I have to go kill something and grill it.

      4. *high-fives crackpotcook*

        I agree with everything you said, and I think that we should all stop calling them feminists and call them what they really are: female supremacists.

      5. Count me in, too. I don’t give a rat’s ass about video games, but I’ve had it up to here with the radfem SJW insanity making my entire gender look like psychotic imbeciles.

      6. They’ve become a laughing stock, and it’s going to get worse, a lot worse. That’s what happens when bigots are so convinced they have a free-fire zone for racist comments they don’t even check themselves.

        Put those quotes from the SFF community together with the quotes of the insane gender feminist academics from which they were inspired and the result is going to be explosive.

        Just as stupid buzzwords like like “privilege” and “rape culture” slowly entered our language, you now see “intersectionalist” and “gender feminist” entering the dialogue. People are becoming aware of the lies they’ve been sold under a false flag of “diversity” and “equality.”

        People are tired of being maligned as racists and woman-haters for nothing more than an inaccurate depiction of an Asian culture or showing a woman in a tank top, or even just existing. The fact these morons claim to speak for all women is making normal women angry because normal women don’t dream of becoming lesbians, throwing off the Patriarchy and ending the nuclear family as we know it to better enable incest.

        These people are going to rue the day they told us to “bone up” on “intersectionality” and therefore put themselves publicly forward as direct supporters of the insanity of Andrea Dworkin and Denise Thompson. Put “white privilege” in that context (which is where it came from) and that “lowest setting” will become a career goal. Damien Walter has made his Twitter private, most likely that’s better than scrubbing it.

        Anti-PC are starting to jump on this. At first they were going “ah, you’re making this up, no one’s that goofy.” You’re going to start seeing a lot more of this on conservative sites.

        “I would like you to rise each morning and know that you are heterosexual and that you choose to be heterosexual — that you are and choose to be a member of a privileged and dominant class, one of your privileges being not to notice.” – radical feminist Marilyn Frye 1980

        Where have you heard that not noticing your privilege being your privilege bullshit argument before? For us, it was almost certainly from an SFF writer.

  13. Marketing 101: the sole purpose of a book’s front cover is to catch shoppers’ eyes so they’ll read the blurb on the back cover.

    The back blurb is there to entice them into reading the first paragraph, where a well-set hook will ideally lead to a purchase.

    1. Then is it weird that I frequently buy books based solely on the cover, and almost never read the first paragraph before buying?

      That’s why I prefer covers that look like they portray a scene or at least show the characters, rather than what you get with a lot of literary fiction and even more one-off sci-fi these days, where the cover’s so vague I can’t really tell anything about the book.

      1. Marketing wisdom isn’t objective truth. It’s just what folks in marketing think. They’re the ones who pick the covers, so their logic dictates the art.

        Support for your approach can be found among independent authors, who commission their own covers and often use the same criteria you mentioned.

      2. Interesting.

        I think it would be nice if more often, authors who had clear ideas about the sorts of covers they wanted had more input. Especially if those ideas come from direct comments from their readers.

      3. “I think it would be nice if more often, authors who had clear ideas about the sorts of covers they wanted had more input.”

        Most authors agree with you. Sadly, most legacy publishers give them almost zero say in the matter (Baen is the obvious exception).

        Joe Konrath has published successfully in traditional and indie markets. His original publisher treated him so unconscionably (including giving his books bland, thoughtless covers) that he sued to get his rights back. He runs an advice blog for aspiring authors.

        Check out what he’s been doing with his covers.


      4. Hey, animated covers, that’s pretty cool. My preference is still for physical books (or audiobooks), but for e-books I can definitely see the appeal. For that matter, they could use the animated covers on the websites like Amazon where you buy the physical books. Maybe one day technology will even advance to where paperbacks can have animations like that on the cover. It’s definitely eye-catching, anyway.

      5. I almost never buy based on the cover: after all, mostly the author has almost no input into what goes on the cover (e.g. Lois Bujold’s first Vorkosigan paperback had a cover originally intended for a Keith Laumer book) and, as Brian said, the purpose of the cover is to grab the purchaser’s attention,. not to reflect the content.
        Of course, the back cover can make me walk away pretty fast too. If I can count more than three generic F/SF cliché’s (the prince who was raised as a humble commoner who must join the ragtag band of adventurers to find the magic dingus before the dread bad guy can bring darkness over the blah blah blah…), I don’t have any interest; I’ve probably already read that same plotline, done better, by someone else. I also hold that books that have no back cover (or flyleaf) descriptions at all but just a stack of reviews and endorsements are trying to hide something.

      6. “Lois Bujold’s first Vorkosigan paperback had a cover originally intended for a Keith Laumer book…”

        Wow. I had no idea.

        I know of more than one author whose complaints about bad covers were answered with, “Just stick to writing and leave the marketing to the experts.”

        But marketing isn’t an exact science. It’s not unknown for indie authors who design their own covers to outsell traditionally marketed versions of the same books.

      7. What’s particularly frustrating is when it’s clear the person who designed the cover didn’t even read the book, maybe only a one-sentence description.

        Or when the back cover blurb makes it sound like a completely different book than it actually is. Or when they’re so generic/vague that the blurb would work for any number of books in that genre.

        I agree that if it doesn’t say anything about the book in blurb form anywhere on the cover, only reviews, I’m unlikely to be any more interested than I was on cover image alone. Less, probably, because now I’m frustrated that I don’t even have any idea what the book’s about.

  14. I dunno Larry… I’m starting to think your membership of the Evil League of Evil is a bit sketchy. I mean the woman on the cover is clothed and she doesn’t even have a collar.

  15. Are there any statistics on how many clips of ammo Kate Beckinsale expended while wearing a corset and skin-tight rubber body-suit…

    …and in heeled booties?

  16. Has anyone seen Legends of the Cryptids artwork? It’s little more than softcore porn but illustrated by some of the best damn fantasy artists you ever saw. It kinda reminds me of those old mens’ magazine where they’d use master painters who’d go on to be put in museums as Civil War artists like Mort Kuntsler.

    It’s an odd contrast to see such talent put to such a weird purposes. On the other hand it explains why SFF, which had a reputation for childishness, eventually won so many people over. The writers and artists were dead serious about their craft and dedicated to their genre, not just churning out crap until they could be Hemingway.

    The movie Underworld is a good example. It takes the most worn out cliches and elevates them by sheer cinematic brilliance. The editing, cinematography, art direction, casting and overall direction really doesn’t take a back seat to any of its contemporaries in mainstream film. That’s a pretty fun and odd thing to see in a film dedicated in part to blowing things away with multiple reloads of ammo clips.

    1. Negrea’s best work is mind-blowing. And that’s an entire school of SFF artists working in video-gaming (presumably helping to move millions of units) and yet who are virtual no-shows in SFF book publishing.

      None of them have been even nominated for Hugos and they have no relationship with core SFF. I find their work much better than the work you see in SFF publishing. For some reason SFF publishing tends to frown at action-oriented work and instead you see a lot of people standing and staring at you. I don’t know if this is an issue of publishing being priced out of that market or not but this new school of art is like a Golden Age of SFF illustration.

      The only knock I have on them (which is kinda nit-picky) is that their work tends to look too similar in style. It’s hard to tell them apart just by looking at them. With the old school that was never in doubt. Kelly Freas was unique, Von Dongen was Von Dongen, Frazetta Frazetta. But there’s no doubt some of this new school are master painters. And besides that, their visions are out of this world. I’m just stunned looking at some of their work.

      I’m curious at what they charge. Someone like Glen Orbik, who isn’t part of this school but a fantastic retro genre artist and just as good, charges around 3 grand if he keeps the rights and maybe 5 in a work-for-hire where you get the rights. If Baen is watching they should check this out.

      Alex Negrea, Anna Stienbauer, Min Yum, Alex Ruiz, Bao Pham, Damian Schouweiler, Eric Deschamps, Michal Matczak, Ruan Jia and Wang Xia Oyu.

      1. The only knock I have on them (which is kinda nit-picky) is that their work tends to look too similar in style. It’s hard to tell them apart just by looking at them.

        Generally, for the freelance stuff, you kinda need to try match the client’s desired style approach, for cohesion in appearance. This is especially true in video game art, and even more so for Asian MMOs.

        For some reason SFF publishing tends to frown at action-oriented work and instead you see a lot of people standing and staring at you. I don’t know if this is an issue of publishing being priced out of that market or not but this new school of art is like a Golden Age of SFF illustration.

        Action-style work is difficult to integrate unless it’s part of the larger whole painting, because of the placing of logos and titles and author names. There’s been some attempts to try change that (example: the latest Legend of Drizzt covers feature battles, as well as some of the other Forgotten Realms works) but by large an artist has very limited space to work with for covers, because they must take into account the front cover as well as the spine and back, and blurb text, (if the cover art is wraparound). Yet, at the same time, you need your characters recognisable – so to a certain extent I can understand the use of visual cheesecake to attract, and visual beefcake to draw the gaze. The viewer needs to be able to see from a distance important details like the author’s name and title.

        Digital painting helps – because we can basically go to a crazy resolution, such as 4800×7800 hxw pixels, at 300 DPI and then SHRINK the images, but we’re still constrained by how the end image looks like. I was lucky enough to have a look at some of the original sizes of artwork for Lineage II, and at 100% magnification, you see nothing but squiggles and individual brushstrokes.

        Formatting keeps us greatly constrained as well – the cover template size for the front of a Lulu pocketbook is 1313×2138 (looking at an open WIP I have at the moment) at 300dpi resolution. On it, I have guidelines for where the trim area is, the ‘safety/bleed margin and then what is considered the active area – the area where the majority of the picture takes place. Trade paperback size covers are different again – and I suspect that one of the reasons why there’s more trade paperbacks now is because there’s a larger area of ‘play space’ for the artist and is more visually eye-catching. I may need to experiment if I want to get more flexibility out of the covers.

        For example for an image that ends up as 1920×1080, 300dpi, I work with a wxh of 15360×8640 pixels. (This is just me though, I’m sure other artists work with different resolutions) The larger pixel size gives me a larger amount of area to play with and a greater margin for errors and experimentation, but there isn’t much to see when I’m zoomed in at 100% – and sometimes I’ll be zoomed in as much as 300% even on an image this size for fine detailwork. Zooming out to ‘print’ size and back helps keep control of the end result.

        *sings under her breath* Look at me still talking when there’s science to do… I’ve experiments to run, there is research to be done… *turns back to the other computer*

      2. Bleeds, titles and logos are nothing new. That has nothing to do with constraining action art. Look at Norm Saunders dynamic pulp covers from the ’30s and ’40s, those small Ace paperback covers of Burroughs by Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta from the ’60s and 8 zillion comic books. It’s an editorial decision not a design one. I suspect folks like Tor Books find action art beneath them. I don’t think they get how much good art, and of a certain type, becomes a portal that draws the readers in.

        It used to be common for an artist to be associated with a specific author, so important was this felt to be. It is generally felt Frazetta played a huge role at Ace with Burroughs and at Lancer with Howard. If that’s true, then art had a huge role in the entire revival that took place in the ’60s, and one whose influence can never be truly measured.

        I’m not surprised we no longer have household names of artists in conjunction with SFF art. That also used to be common. Tim Kirk, Whelan, Vallejo. Art creates excitement and is a huge part of promoting the genre and it’s track record from J. Allen St. John and Burroughs in the teens through to the SF pulps and into the ’70s can’t be denied. The talent’s there, it’s just not being tapped.

  17. LMAO @ myself. It took me a minute to realize that it said “Lovci”. I thought it said “Lover Monster Nemesis” which just was so wrong. Do love the artwork

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