Tribute Art: “The Witches of Karres”

One of my recent pastime activities is reading vintage novels, particularly sci-fi and fantasy novels, and when I find one I want to read, I try to get an edition with a cover that I really like. (Side note: I think one of the great things about speculative fiction is its covers, which not only serve to draw you in, but are also able to get your imagination going). However, there are times when the covers I come across are not particularly appealing. And then there are covers which do the story a disservice by not being truly representative of the work (which, of course, you can only find out by reading the whole book). In either of these cases, I tend to find myself imagining what a good cover would be, but I don’t normally go ahead and make one. In fact, the only time I recall actually making a mock cover was last year, when I made one for Terry Brook’s Running with the Demon (one of my favourite books of all time). Now I’ve done a second mock cover, only this time I have taken things a step further and made that mock cover appear as if it was an actual book.

The book in question, as you can see, is one called The Witches of Karres, by the American sci-fi writer James H. Schmitz, which I just finished reading a few days ago. I may, in a future post, talk about the content of this book (because I really enjoyed reading it), but for this post I will only discuss it briefly. The book is basically a series of adventures that centre on a young man known only as Captain Pausert as he journeys through the galaxy in a borrowed spaceship in an attempt to make his fortune. He is joined by a number of people on his venture, some of whom are good and some of whom are bad, but without a doubt the most important of them is Goth, who is one of the titular witches from the mysterious planet of Karres. Goth is only a young girl, but she is quite capable of taking care of herself, and she is also a competent user of a special type of magic. The result of all this is that Goth quickly becomes an invaluable ally to Captain Pausert.

Despite being one of Mr Schmitz’s more popular and well-known stories, there are not many covers for The Witches of Karres in existence. The one I like the most is the one by American artist Paul Alexander. Not only is his cover beautifully painted, the representation of Pausert, Goth and her sisters is fairly faithful to the way they are described in the text. However, there is a fair bit of artistic licence in the scene depicted, which, by the way, takes place very early in the story. In contrast, the mock cover I came up with shows Goth and her younger sister the Leewit, in disguise, from a scene much later in the story. I think it’s good to feature a scene deep into the book, as that will keep readers excited for it longer. From a technical point of view, the “photoshopping” could be a lot better, but in the end I just did this to amuse myself, and I hope it amuses others as well.😊

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