Cover to Cover with Cat’s Cradle

Cat’s Cradle is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s finest works. Even better, it was published in 1963 – so there are fifty-two years’ worth of beautiful, funky, and plain weird covers to gaze at.

English printings keep it fairly simple, with a lot of red for some reason:

Original cover  Original cover (David Pelham)  Paperback edition

I’m not a huge fan of the David Pelham cover (middle), but I do find it interesting that Cat’s Cradle was ever classified as science fiction, although I suppose it makes sense – technology-induced apocalypse and all.

Foreign printings take us to a less coherent place:

Turkish edition  Australian edition  French edition

The Turkish cover (left) stays fairly on theme, and I like how the Australian cover (middle) reminds me of John Gall’s Murakami covers even if I’m not sure what the cover is supposed to be. The French cover (right) loses me completely. A turtle? A dollhouse? A gothic colour palette? I’ve got nothing.

And as per usual, the independent graphic designer and illustrator takes on this cover are my favourites by far:

Jimmy Lee's cover Nick Sadek's cover Chris Taylor's cover

In all three of these (left to right: Jimmy LeeNick Sadek, and Chris Taylor) we see a nod to ice-nine – the deadly substance at the core of Cat’s Cradle that eventually freezes the entire world solid – an event that Vonnegut makes seem like a good idea, because the man is a genius.

Perhaps my favourite of all is this “movie poster” from Rich Fox – although there is no movie version of this novel. (IMDB says one is “in production,” but I’m skeptical to say the least.)

Rich Fox's poster

It’s a beautiful quote from the novel that encapsulates Vonnegut’s style of invention – the novel is full of small moments and ideas that bend your mind towards a new perspective. Suicide as apocalypse; it makes total sense, but it’s not something I would have thought of on my own.

Cover to Cover is a weekly project comparing and critiquing the various covers of popular novels. Find more posts in this series here – and feel free to link to your blog in the comments if you do one of your own!


4 thoughts on “Cover to Cover with Cat’s Cradle

  1. I’m not a big reader, however it’s certainly interesting to see the different cover designs over the years and between different countries. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know which summarises the plot the best, however from a design perspective I’m in love with Nick Sadek’s version (as well as the other cover designs on his behance page). Simple, visually appealing, and a great choice of font!


    • I’m a fan of Nick’s edition too! One of my favourite parts of this project is exploring the work of so many designers. Behance is an absolute goldmine of creativity.


  2. “we see a nod to ice-nine – the deadly substance at the core of Cat’s Cradle that eventually freezes the entire world solid” Please tell me this is not a spoiler as i was just about to start reading it. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be lurking on info about the book if I don’t want a spoiler…


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