Ann Maxwell Covers: Futuristic WTFery from the Past - Updated!

Recently, a HaBO featuring a reader looking for a book with somewhat sentient hair and possible prism embossing on the cover led to a discussion of Ann Maxwell's books – and the covers thereof. The book in question is likely Timeshadow Rider, but Elise Logan sent me pictures of a few other Maxwell covers from her collection, and, seriously, HOW DID I MISS THESE.

I had no idea there was this gaping void in my memory where excellent futuristic prismatic covers should be! Good thing Elise can help us all fix that.

Ann Maxwell, if you weren't aware, also writes romance under the name “Elizabeth Lowell.” I didn't know this until I'd read a pile of Lowell books – I loooooved them. The books below are much-loved science fiction books, too, with many, many positive reviews in various places online. I had no idea she'd written science fiction as well. Or that the covers were SO COMPLETELY AMAZING.

Ready to go back to the future?

First, there's Fire Dancer: (GR | A | BN)

Fire Dancer - a woman who is mostly naked covered with streaks of lightning wielding fire from her hands because thats what she does apparently


No, no, don't worry. Elise also sent a CLOSE UP: 


Close up - her hand has a lot of light coming out of it. Not sure why.


Good heavens. My eyes aren't sure what to look at first: boobs, orbs, or the assortment of erect and elongated things. WAIT A MINUTE. Is this the Olympics of the future?! 

Elise: I love that naked dude behind her is about to throw a discus (and is pointing to where he's aiming) and has completely fabulous glow-in-the-dark eye makeup.

Elise would also like to draw our attention to the tagline: “Were they the last survivors of their planet's blazing glory?”

It appears the blazing glory came with them and is in her hand.


Then there's Dancer's Luck: (GR | A | BN)

Dancer's Luck - woman shooting light out of her hands while dogs wearing spiked armor are in front of her in strategic position plus there's a naked dude in the background


Yes, of course there is a close up: 

A close up of light beam hands naked woman and dogs. Seriously.


Imagine that 911 call: “Sir, sir. I need you to slow down. You say there's a lightning woman and her dog is where?

I also imagine that in this world, “Never ride the horned dog” is NOT a euphemism. 

Elise: Fire shooting from your hands and dogs coming out of your crotch seems like something you might want to avoid. Just sayin'. 


But wait! There's more! Please meet Dancer's Illusion: ( GR | A | BN )

Dancer's Illusion Still gold but now she has a red toga and some light coming out of her palm and a lot of sideboob


Close up? BUT OF COURSE.

Close up - there's some animals in the background I think. Or rocks - hard to tell.


You know what? I think romance needs more sideboob. And dragonflies, red togas, shoulder armor, and eye makeup. Let's make it happen! 

And the TAGLINE: On a world where nothing is what it seems, ecstasy can be the deadliest trap of all!


Elise: It looks to me like they've been taking LSD, not Ecstasy, but what do I know?

And Good. Lord. Mario World flying jellyfish on the left, bird freaking the fuck out on the right, crazy glowy dragonflies, a dress that would make Nicki Minaj think twice, and homegirl needs some serious hair care. Plus, now the dude is coming out of her ass, – with his eye makeup STILL IN PLACE. That takes serious talent right there.

Remember, people. Ecstasy can be the deadliest trap of all. 

Updated: 21 February 2014

Aislinn in Australia sent me the following email after she saw the collection of covers: 

I found your snark about the Ann Maxwell covers so funny that when I got to work the next day (I work in a second hand book store) I had to try to find some. These must be the Australian covers. Not quite the same level of WTFery, but nevertheless amusing.

Fire Dancer - naked woman with pointy boobs rising out of some very liquid looking fire


woman holding her hair away from her face except she has no hair so far back from her face that it looks like she's scalping herself



woman with her arm turning into molten blue metal


Awwww yeah, Australian editions! If you come across someone you think may be a visitor from another planet, first, check to see if they're wearing a modified malliot and if they have a rather unique hairline.   


I also received an email from Gry in Norway, who has the same covers as Aislinn. International cover designs travel far! Gry also says:

I have several of the Ann Maxwell books – including a different cover for Dancer's luck. There isn't that amazing amount of WTFery as the cover you posted, though.

But I hope you will like the other two covers. I particularly think you will like the one for Name of a Shadow – she looks as if she is having an orgasm right there! 😀 Makes you wonder if it is the dark blobs in the background that are doing the dirty with her, or if that thing she is clutching is a kind of alien sex toy. (Actually, it's not – its supposed to be a musical instrument called a sarsa, peculiar to the cover girl's planet – makes you wonder how she can actually make music on it with the strings festooned with crystals).

Name of a Shadow woman with her head thrown back in presumed bliss playing a harp with strings with crystals all over them. Ouch.


Play that funky music, space girl! 


A dead god dancing - a pale white woman who looks like she's naked and covered with feathers dancing above a group of long haired angry primitive-looking men


Oh, my. I'm not even sure what to say about that cover, except that the fact that her nipple is staring at me is oddly reassuring. 

Comments are Closed

  1. Miranda says:

    In the last picture, the dude has a really long right arm, along with all the rest of the weirdness. But if it will help him catch that dragonfly, it’ll be worth it.

  2. Dora says:

    Are those the robot hounds with bees in their mouths, and when they bark they shoot bees at you? (/Simpsons)

    I actually sort of miss old school fantasy and sci-fi, because trends these days have sterilized both. Everyone wants to write the big serious Tolkien-esque epic these days, and back then they seemed to be more inventive. It was like, “Jazz fire hands and cloud cities and magma tits? Heck yes. Why not? Hey, can we throw in some bald green centaur with wings for arms?”

  3. laj says:

    Those dogs……I’m speechless.

  4. MissB2U says:

    Remember that catchy phrase “Just Say No”?  Object lesson here, people.

  5. SB Sarah says:


    Jazz fire hands and cloud cities and magma tits? Heck yes. Why not? Hey, can we throw in some bald green centaur with wings for arms?

    That made me laugh so hard. “Magma tits” is now my new favorite assemblage of those letters.

    MAGMA TITS! I think I need it on a t-shirt. Obviously.

  6. Betty Fokker says:

    Did the fire melt her nipples off? I am assuming it also melted off her pubic hair and the nekkid guy’s junk. He’s clearly dissolved from the waist down. Yet, now I REALLY want to read these books. *off to Amazon*

  7. Lostshadows says:

    The way that red toga is clinging to her top, I think its safe to assume that that world has a supply of double stick tape.

    I’m kind of bummed that my parents’ massive SF collection doesn’t contain these.

  8. chacha1 says:

    “blazing DOOM” … not “blazing GLORY.” 
    oh lordy the lulz.  These covers are Simply Epic. 
    The figures are totally Ken and Barbie, completely unsexed for Maximum Non-Porn Nudity.

  9. Kate Pearce says:

    But the thing is-if you read the books-all those things are TOTALLY ACCURATE!!!
    But the hero is huge and furry and I’m not seeing that on the covers at all. (sad face)

    I love these books and regularly reread them-although the covers on mine are just shiny. 🙁

  10. I thought the first book was called Fire Danger and I guess I was like, well, there’s definitely a danger on that cover. Whether it’s from the fire or the Blazing Doom there, I guess it works. 😛

  11. harthad says:

    So, are the yellow lines all over her body the aforementioned semi-sentient hair? And is the hair sentient independent of her, like, it has a mind of its own? That would certainly describe my hair and might explain a lot. Unfortunately my hair does not score high on intelligence tests.

    Perhaps the semi-sentient hair could join up with the nipples that watch you from the darkness. There’s a couple for the ages!

  12. harthad says:

    Oops, maybe that’s really a threesome for the ages; depends if the nipples are a unit or act independently.

  13. L. says:

    Clothes? We don’t need no stinkin’ clothes!

  14. Mzcue says:

    Ann Maxwell’s covers make me think that the future isn’t as exuberant as it use to be.

  15. MarieC says:

    It’s nice to know that in the future, gravity won’t be an issue (like the comics, zero gravity boob-age).

  16. Ova says:

    These two characters sure do spend a lot of their time buck naked. I might have to go read these. I suppose in the future modesty ain’t nothin’ but a thang, but they are out in some ferocious elements. With their tender bits exposed. That first cover has peen flambee on it if you look at the close up. Some flame retardant pants might not have gone amiss there.

  17. LauraL says:

    A former boyfriend had a stack of Ann Maxwell and other sci-fi books at his apartment. I likely was reading Elizabeth Lowell’s historicals at the same time. Oh, those naive pre-interwebs days.

  18. DonnaMarie says:

    Weep with jealousy ladies, I bought all these when they first came out, and they still reside in a storage box under the bed. As I recall, the lines you see are a species expression and golden. He is supposed to have a catlike appearance – hence the “eye makeup”. Apparently making him look catlike was a little too interracial for the times. Or could be a glamrock thing. Also, he’s been her protector since she was a child, so you get the whole “I’m too old for you so I’m going to ignore our off the charts chemistry while trying to find other survivors of your species so you can make babies” thing.  So the most irritating thing about her not finishing the series is that THEY NEVER HOOK UP!!! Talk about romance interruptous.

  19. windy says:

    Whoa. . .did the stylist for Britney Spears’ “Toxic” video totally rip off “Firedancer,” or what?

  20. Joy says:

    OK, OK, this is a perfect series for electronic editions.  Reprint them for ebooks and followup with an e only conclusion.  Who has the copyright?  You are SO missing out.  I’d love to buy copies of these.

  21. Elizabeth Cole says:

    My eyes just melted and I kind of liked it. WHY isn’t there a mechanism to have variant covers on our ebooks now? If they had whack crystal chandelier harps back then, we must have the technology now.

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