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Post-cyberpunk

Published

Cory Doctorow just posted a note on Boing Boing about a book I designed: Rewired: the Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007). He wasn’t writing about the design, of course, but about the content; still, it was startling to scroll down the page and come upon my own cover design. The infrastructural photo was taken at a construction site south of Market in San Francisco; the photographer, Patty Nason, went roaming one night with Tachyon editor Jill Roberts, in search of a suitable cover image.

The book’s title is in a typeface I’ve always liked but never expected to find an actual use for: Jonathan Hoefler’s Gestalt. It could never be used for an unusual name or word; the letterforms themselves are so unusual that the word has to be familiar and easy to recognize. (The repetition of re in the word “rewired” helps that recognition.) I always get a frisson of pleasure out of finding that one perfect use for an unusual typeface or type element.

I’ve designed several anthologies for Tachyon, including the three (soon to be four) Tiptree Award anthologies and a previous Kelly/Kessel collaboration, Feeling Very Strange: the Slipstream Anthology. It’s always an adventure dealing with an anthology, where the material may be in all sorts of divergent forms (and will inevitably arrive in a host of incompatible formats). It’s most satisfying when I’m designing both the cover and the interior, so the two will be integrated; even better is when I design an entire marketing campaign, with a consistent message and graphic style, as I did three years ago for Eileen’s book when Tachyon published it.

I’ve been carrying Rewired around with me, testing it out as a physical object and finally reading the stories that I didn’t get to during book production. I’m pleased with the way this one came out; it’s light and portable, even though it’s a big book, and it seems comfortable to read, which is the whole point. (The typefaces used throughout, apart from the title on the cover, are varieties of Josh Darden’s Freight family.) Good stories, too. Cory’s own remarkably moving story “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” is one of the highlights.

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