Saturday, February 22, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #104: Tau Zero, by Poul Anderson

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

 Once again, I'm showcasing
two slightly different
versions of the same cover!!

Tau Zero
Trade Paperback, 192 pages
Gollancz/Orion Publishing
January 1, 2006
Science Fiction

Why do I love these covers?

I have seen very, very few Gollancz covers I didn't like.  This publisher simply has amazingly good covers!  This one (in both versions) is no exception; it's dramatic, very aesthetically pleasing, has lots of BLUE.  True, there's quite a bit of white in it, as well, but the color blue does predominate.

Aside from that most beautiful of all colors, I love the dynamic composition!  That thick, mist-filled ray shooting down, from an undefined area of space -- not sure if that's a planet or spaceship it's coming from -- to the lower right-hand corner of the cover, is powerfully intense.  On the first cover above, this ray is more defined, with a streak of concentrated energy zapping through it like lightning.  This ray seems to have been caused by a mysterious explosion, and is mirrored by similar explosions taking place near the upper right-hand corner of the cover.

There are several planets in this image; the strange circle enclosing part of a mathematical equation echoes the repeated circles of the planets.  The circle in the upper cover has gradations all around it, which are missing from the circle in the lower cover.  I wonder why.... 

The second, lower cover has some very distinct, strange design outlines surrounding the circle.  I'm not sure what these represent, but they do remind me somewhat of some of the Nazca lines, which are huge images made by ancient people in the Nazca Desert, located in southern Peru.      

Nazca lines: The Heron
(photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

It seems as if the cover artist wanted to convey the fact that an alien civilization is involved in the plot of this novel.  Whatever these designs represent, they definitely create an aura of mystery that enhances the fascinating artwork of this stunning cover.  This holds true especially for the second cover, where the designs stand out more. 

The font used for the title and author's name is simple, unadorned, and I like the fact that, on both covers, it does not overwhelm the turbulent images.  I also like the very thin frame around the author's name, as well as the words, "SF MASTERWORKS", at the upper left-hand corner of each cover,  There's a small, red orb at the end of these words.  All of these are very nice, classic design touches.

In short, this cover, although very dynamic, and definitely exciting, is still very tastefully designed.  I wonder why there are two slightly different versions of it....perhaps the lower one was released first, then recalled, and the upper one was published, with some modifications.  Both, however, are extremely appealing!

Unfortunately,  I have not been able to locate any information on the cover artist, since no preview of this novel is available through the Amazon reader.  I hope to find out who the artist is when this book joins my collection! 

What do you think 
of my choice this week?
Leave me a comment 
and let me know!!


  1. I agree with you Maria. I too love this cover. You raise all sorts of great points about it. I like the way that it has kind of an organic feel to it, perhaps as a result of the blue, that melds so well with the seriousness conveyed by the equations.

    On a side note, I have read a few things by Andesron but not this one. Looking at a plot description it looks to be classic well worth reading and I might give it a try soon.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      I'm glad you agree that this is indeed a stunning cover! Thanks for complimenting my analysis of it, too! And I like your statement that this cover is 'organic'. I totally agree with you! It just has a feel of unity, in spite of the disparate elements. It could indeed be the blue!

      Anderson was an incredibly prolific writer, as you probably know. I think it would take a lifetime to get through all his books! Since you're interested in reading this one, which is indeed considered a classic of his, I recommend you check out this very interesting review, which I discovered while researching the novel yesterday:

      Thanks for another great comment!! : )

    2. Thanks for the link. That review makes me want to read it even more.

    3. Hi, again, Brian!

      Isn't that a terrific review? I had the same feeling -- now I want to read this book even more!

      By the way, you can join this site. They have a forum and everything. I'm considering it, although I don't have too much time to participate in forums. However, the site has other features, too.

      You're very welcome for the link! Enjoy the book!! : )


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