Please Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside the Cover

Ahhhhh!  Wednesday again?  Sheesh.

Today we are going to discuss the mysterious case of the phantom arms.

I’m in the middle of reading Endymion, the sequel to Dan Simmions’ Hyperion duo. 

The cover art for all four books (Endymion is also a duo) was originally done by Gary Ruddell.  All four are attractive, but there’s one issue I’ve had with them from the start.

For those of you who haven’t read the series, the covers each display the Shrike–a razor-covered, murderous entity from the future.  The creature is incredibly large, dense, and has four arms.

Here’s the Barns and Noble listing, so you can see the first cover for yourself: Dan Simmons’ Hyperion

You’ll notice the Shrike on the cover sports two arms.

Now, the mistake is perfectly understandable on the artist’s part.  Often artists only get an excerpt of the text for reference, and the Shrike’s four arms come up a lot less than its bladed exterior.

But how did the editor miss that?  And Dan Simmons? 

More importantly, how did they miss it for three books?  Only the fourth cover displays a properly armed Shrike.

I looked for a bit of background that might explain the flub, but I couldn’t find much.  The only mentions of it online come from fans (that I could find.  I’ll admit to only a cursory search.  If you’ve got a link for an author, publisher, artist, or editor’s article, let me know).  One website declared the Shrike switches between two and four arms in the books, but as far as I can tell that’s incorrect.  I’m almost to the end of Endymion and the Shrike has yet to mysteriously lose limbs.

I’ve been pondering this mistake since I started the series.  Wondering, whyHow?

But it turns out this kind of mistake makes it onto bookshelves more often than I thought. 

Today I was alerted to this incident (Thank you, Rebecca Birch).  The cover is on a romance novel, and it also involves the wrong number of limbs:  Castles in the Air, by Christina Dodd

Have you noticed any strange cover flubs?  Please share!


P.S. Just won another hard-copy book (from because of twitter.

Published by Marina J. Lostetter

Writer and Illustrator of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

2 thoughts on “Please Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside the Cover

  1. Dan Simmons lives in the town I grew up in–and where my parents still live. I’m a year older than his daughter, and was in a few kids’ writing groups with her, in addition to some random high school classes a few years later. Unfortunately, I’m not still in contact–but if I ever bump into them I’ll try to remember to ask!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: