>What’s in a cover? Sometimes everything. The first science fiction book I ever bought was the old Granada paperback edition of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, and the thing that made me pick it up was the fabulous Chris Foss spaceship on the cover. But there was more to it than that, enough to make this a truly formative moment. Because next to this book were two others that were clearly part of the same series – Foundation & Empire and Second Foundation. They also had fabulous spaceships on the front. But, as I read the blurb on the back – seductive blurb that promised epic tales of galactic empires and something called psychohistory – I realised something incredible: the three covers fitted together like jigsaw pieces to form a single image! The exotic combination of Granada and Foss had actually created not just a trilogy but a triptych. And I’d discovered it! I was tickled pink. And hooked, for life.
I’ve discovered all manner of wonders in bookshops over the years, but I can’t recall ever being so utterly enchanted as I was that day. Asimov’s Foundation launched me on an SF odyssey that lasted through my teens and only began to wane when I wandered into a little Maine town called Castle Rock. The spaceships got the better of me again when the Clear Air Turbulence went on its outrageous spree through the heart of the Culture megaship in Iain Banks’s Consider Phlebas. Reading that sequence, I felt the same daft WTF grin on my face that my ten year-old self had worn when I picked up Asimov.
Still, the first time’s always the best.