2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson is coming out at the end of May around the globe (US | UK | AUS). Last week I posted some wallpapers, and this week I want to explain some of the thinking that went into the design of the book jacket.
The goal was to create a cover that would signal a big book about space, but we also wanted something that reinforced the timelessness of the storytelling by bringing in mythic symbolism. The cover isn’t a literal snapshot of anything in the book — it’s a collection of symbols that evoke the story.
I don’t want to give away too many of the book’s secrets (some of which are hinted at in the design) but I will explain why there’s a rooster and a sickle silhouetted against the tree.
The two main characters in 2312 are from Mercury and Saturn. You probably remember that in Roman mythology Mercury (like Hermes) wore winged sandals and bore a caduceus. He was also often accompanied by a rooster (representing the new day.) Saturn — the god of agriculture, justice and strength — held a sickle in his left hand and a bundle of wheat in his right. So these two symbols represent two of the key locations in the book.
There’s also a very simple visual story in the design. As you roll the book over from the front, to the spine, and to the back, you’ll notice the sun going down on each image.
You’ll also notice that the rooster isn’t on the back cover. Why? There are a few possible interpretations for this. But there’s also a straightforward scientific explanation in keeping with the rigorous logic of the book. Why isn’t the rooster on the back cover?
… It’s nighttime. The rooster has gone to sleep. ;-)
So that’s a bit of background on the design thinking that went into the cover. You can enlarge the cover below to see the sun setting effect.
This was a really fun project and one (as I always do) I feel lucky to be a part of.