Monday, April 16, 2012

Under Cover: The Sentinel

The late Byron Preiss produced the series, Masterworks of Science Fiction and Fantasy, for Berkley Books in the early 1980s. The Sentinel (1983) was a collection of nine vintage short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote introductions for the book and each story. Included in the volume was “The Sentinel”, which was one of a several stories used in the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. I was responsible for the cover and interior design. The late Lebbeus Woods illustrated the stories.

To celebrate the book’s release, Byron and the publisher held a party at the club Danceteria, located at 30 West 21st Street. Here’s what Charles Platt said about the event in the newsletter Ansible 36, December 1983:
At the beginning of November, Putnam/Berkley collaborated with book publisher [sic; producer] Byron Preiss in an extravaganza at Danceteria (fashionable NY midtown disco to mark publication of a collection of old Arthur C. Clarke stories being hyped as a ‘major publishing event’. Banks of colour TVs showed 2001 while a competing sound-system played ‘background music’ and guests shouted in each other's ears. Highlight of the evening: ‘a special message from Clarke, a 1-minute taped phone call that sounded like Hurro ar uh in nuh orrrrk thisss Arrrthr C. Clarke via brrrrkkkk communications satellite rrhhhggttss awrr sss... while at the same time the TVs blared 'Open the pod bay door, Hal!’ etc…
There was a bit more to Clarke’s message. Byron, Lebbeus and I were standing in the center of the crowd when the message was played. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Clarke speak my name as one of the book’s contributors.

Lebbeus’s cover sketch was approved with changes.

A cover proof was made with Lebbeus’s artwork,
with the number of rays of light reduced.

Berkley promoted the the series and the book with a poster (four illustrations from
the book), which was sent to booksellers. Shown above are panels one through four.
Later, Berkley had second thoughts about the art and asked for a different approach.

The revised trade paperback cover proof. Front cover and spine fonts are from the
Futura family. Berkley wanted the font that was used on the 1968 movie poster.
The title was embossed. Back cover fonts are from the ITC Novarese family.
The book measures 6 by 9 inches (15.24 by 22.86 centimeters).

My original title page design was a spread but it was rejected.

The revised title page was set in Letraset Corinthian Light and Bold.

Opening spread for the story “The Sentinel”. Excerpts from Clarke's introduction:

Next to “The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God,” I suppose “The Sentinel” is my best-known short story—though not for itself, but as the seed from which 2001: A Space Odyssey sprang, twenty years after is was written in 1948….

I am continually annoyed by careless references to “The Sentinel” as “the story on which
2001 is based”; it bears about as much relation to the movie as an acorn to the resultant full-grown oak. (Considerably less, in fact, because ideas from several other stories were also incorporated.) Even the elements that Stanley Kubrick and I did actually use were considerably modified. Thus the “glittering, roughly pyramidal structure…set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel” became—after several modifications—the famous black monolith. And the locale was moved from the Mare Crisium to the most spectacular of all lunar craters, Tycho—easily visible to the naked eye from Earth at Full Moon….

2001: A Space Odyssey opened in the United States in early April 1968.

Spine and cover of the hardcover, signed and numbered edition.
Type and art foil-stamped in gold.

Detail of Science Fiction Book Club edition jacket.

UK edition; cover art by Chris Foss; cover designer not credited.

The Barnes and Noble 1996 edition used the first version of
Lebbeus’s cover art; jacket design by Lynn J. Binder. A trade
paperback edition, with a new cover, was published by iBooks
in 2000, followed by a mass market paperback edition in 2004.

Rescue Party

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

Breaking Strain

Jupiter V

Jupiter V


The Wind from the Sun

A Meeting with Medusa

A Meeting with Medusa

The Songs of Distant Earth

(Updated October 24, 2013; next post on Monday: Moebius’ Airtight Garage)