02 August, 2011

SFF Fail...Terrible Book Titles

An internet rant is a beautiful thing, I mean, why even be online, with all the anonymity that brings, and not make fun. It's why we have comments on everything from blogs to Youtube to news stories. People need to complain! We have things on our chest and we've got to get them off...and our significant others are just plain tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.

In light of this, I decided to institute a new feature on the blog where I can bring up whatever's on my mind, be it terrible book covers, titles, ideas, bloggers (okay, probably just Pat), you name it and have some fun with it.


This week, I wanted to bring up something that's been bugging me for a while. I know it's rarely the author's fault, but there are some really terrible book titles out there. Ones that not only make me cringe, but that will prevent me from picking up an otherwise good book.

The one that's recently caught my attention is one of of Katherine Kerr's latest, which came out last year, called License to Ensorcell. I've never read Kerr, but I know plenty that adore her. I'm sure I'll end up reading her Deverry series at some point...but I'm not quite sure about this new one.

Really, License to Ensorcell? Might as well call it: James Bond Girl Does Magic. It's bulky, it doesn't roll off the tongue, and it really just doesn't work for me. I know we're trying to show it's about spies and magic, but this is not the way to do it.

License to Ensorcell is an SFF Fail.

The only redemption is that the next book, Water to Burn, isn't too bad of a title actually.

Any other terrible titles you can think of? This may not be the last SFF Fail highlighting Book Titles.


Vanessa said...

Black Blade Blues (J.A. Pitts). Wasn't a very good book, either.

Kathryn said...

How rude. Black Blade Blues was excellent, and the title made perfect sense once you'd read the book. It also had that alliterative effect which made it easier to remember, and it just rolled off the tongue.

I think sci-fi gets some of the better terrible titles. I'm reluctant to post some because I secretly love Baen-esque stuff, plus Weber gets some excellent - if bad - titles.
"Take Back Plenty" - Colin Greenland
"By Schism Rent Asunder", "By Heresies Distressed", "How Firm a Foundation", "The Excalibur Alternative" - David Weber

I hope Mr Weber doesn't think me a traitor :(

Bastard said...

I read License to Ensorcell and thought it was quite bad. But as far as book title goes, well there's actually a "License to Ensorcell" in the book, so I don't know how much I can fault it.

I love the Black Blade Blues title though, and I enjoyed the book overall, but I can see how some would not enjoy it.

As far as terrible book titles goes, I'll have to do some looking around. Nothing coming up. I do know I hate book titles that are a pain in the ass to find through a search engine.

Bryce L. said...

@Vanessa - You know what, I have to agree with you on the title, but I haven't read it. I DO own it though.

@Kathryn - You're one of the reasons I own Black Blade Blues actually. :) I didn't even think of David Weber, although I know "How Firm a Foundation" is a song, well hymn really so maybe some others in the Safehold series are after songs. I wonder.

@Bastard - I guess that makes sense, but I still can't say I'm a fan of the title. Immediately, my gut reaction is negative and a title has to make you want to read it.

Looking forward to more bad titles. :)

Anonymous said...

Uh.. in all seriousness, I came across a book on Amazon last week called "The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz." I have no clue what it's about. I didn't care to hang around and analyze it, but that's the WORST all time book title I've EVER seen before. Ever.

Bryce L. said...

Wow, yeah, that's a doozy.

I think that's one of those Bizarro books that's becoming popular. I might have seen it (along with a bunch of super creepy titles) in the back of my copy of Shatnerquake, which is on the light end of that subgenre that's been really popular on Goodreads recently.

Kathryn said...

You should read it at some point, Seak. Even if you don't like it, the title makes sense.

It's like Moon's "Trading in Danger". I had to think about the title before it made sense. I'm a bit slow like that, but I also rarely think about titles that much.

How about "Stands a Shadow" by Col Buchanan? Sounds a bit daft to me.

Ryan said...

Wow, License to Ensorcell is a really shitty title.

Kathryn added some other good bad titles. Sadly, the genre is loaded with books with bad titles.

It reminds me of 80's metal where the bands would get a song concept in their head, then write a shitty song like say about a whole city taken over by gangs, and name it..."Gang Land"

Bryce L. said...

@Kathryn - Oh, I definitely plan on reading it. I bought it only a couple weeks ago. I'm dying to find out more about this black blade (sounds awesome) and why it's making everyone blue. :)

One of my points (that I failed to make clear) is that while a title may make sense after reading, it still has to grab the reader before the sense-making can actually occur and that's why you need a really good title.

And yes, Stands a Shadow, just odd.

@Ryan - Yes, 80's metal! I love those concepts, especially Iron Maiden.