OK. So, this is a little weird.
Back in November, when I was attending the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, I spent some time hanging out with folks from Tor’s art department. We got to talking about cover art, and I mentioned how pleased I’ve been with their efforts on my behalf. (Yes, I can be an obsequious little toad on occasion. But in this case I was being sincere. I really do love the work they’ve done on the Milkweed books, both the old cover and the new work.)
And then somebody asked me if I had seen the cover that John Jude Palencar painted for my second novel.
To which I said, “Um, no,” because as we all know, JJP did not do the cover art for my second novel.
At which point the conversation fell silent for a moment. I won’t call it an awkward silence. “Pregnant,” perhaps?
“Oh,” was the response. “Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”
But, you know, at this point I was rather curious. So I inquired further. Turns out that Mr. Palencar had actually read the manuscript for The Coldest War, and created a painting based on it, before the decision to change the marketing strategy for my books was finalized. So he had already sent cover art for The Coldest War to Tor when the decision to change cover styles happened. So the art department had this unused John Jude Palencar painting just sitting around for months and months.
What happened next? And what does this mystery painting look like?
So, in essence, Tor commissioned an anthology of stories written by top-flight writers inspired by a Palencar painting that was, itself, inspired by my book. (But to be absolutely clear, it’s not an anthology of stories set in the Milkweed universe.)
Tor commissioned the painting, and they weren’t using it for anything else, so it’s a great idea. And the image is their own to use, after all. But I admit to feeling a little strangely about this. I’m not for one nanosecond implying that I belong in the anthology—I would never claim I belong in an anthology populated by the likes of Gene Wolfe and Michael Swanwick. And as I pointed out, this is an anthology of stories inspired by a painting that was itself inspired by the book—in other words, it’s NOT an anthology of stories set in the Milkweed universe.
On the other hand, I’m sorry that there’s absolutely no mention of The Coldest War anywhere in that post about Tor.com’s Palencar Project. If there’s a reason for it, I’m not certain what it is. I feel OK posting about this because at no point was I asked to keep the association secret. And now that the painting is online, as this comment makes clear, people familiar with my books are already making the connection without any prompting from me.
Oh, Coldest War, you loveable troublemaker. You’re just full of endless surprises, aren’t you?
Update: Turns out that somebody at Tor had specifically requested that the Tor.com post reference my book. Don’t know why it doesn’t, but it’s nice to know somebody there also thought this was an oversight. Now I don’t feel quite so crazy.