Little Brother art: UK cover, limited edition poster -- UPDATED

Yesterday, I got two really awesome new graphics related to my young adult novel Little Brother (now in its third week on the bestseller lists!). The first, seen above, was a side-project by Tor Books's Pablo Defendini, a poster design that started out as concept art for the paperback of Little Brother. Pablo actually gave me one of the very small number of prints he made of this and now I can't wait to get it framed and hung up -- I love every little thing about it, from the RFID tag to the hidden message in the binary around the border. Oh, and Pablo does great hands.

Next up is this:

It's the artwork (not yet final) for the UK edition of Little Brother, which will be published in November by HarperCollins UK. It's a little less upbeat than the US cover, but I like the stencil-graffiti look, which hearkens to all the political movements (starting with early Christianity) that were bound together by illegal writing on walls. (If you'd like to get a notice when the UK edition is available, mail me).

Link to Pablo Defendini's print

Update: The initial print run for Little Brother is almost completely shipped, so my publisher has just ordered a new batch of hardcovers. Those books on the shelf now? They're the last of the first edition -- get 'em while they last!


  1. I think the poster is superior to either of the covers. but between the two covers I prefer the UK version.

  2. This is great design, but it makes me feel sorry to see how immediately and viscerally recognizable the camera-on-a-pole silhouette has become to our friends in the UK.

    Fight the power, y’all.

  3. Now this I like! If you get to make an extra run of the books, could you use Pablo Defendini’s design on the cover?

  4. I like them both, if I had to pick a favorite I’d go with the first one.

    One thing about the second one:
    That barcode won’t scan. I dont’ know if that’s intentional or not, but there has to be a bit of it where the whole thing can be read, and because of the cable going across the front of it, the top left corner is blocked, so it won’t scan.

  5. First, the Pablo Defendini cover/poster is awesome and really should be the cover to the book…

    and second, I’m curious about the proper use of the word, “hearkens”.

    Hearken is supposed to mean: “to give respectful attention”. according to Webster’s online, but it makes no mention of “hearkens”. It does mention “hearkening” and “hearkened”, which doesn’t mean that “hearkens” isn’t a proper use of the word, but there’s other stuff about this word that confuses me.

    I once read in an article on, I think it was Slate, where someone said that “harkens” isn’t a word, and the correct form is “hark” or “harks” but you can’t always trust random someones. says that both “harkens” and “hearkens” mean “to give respectful attention, to take heed”, and “hark” means ” to listen attentively; hearken”, and “harks” means simply, “to listen attentively”.

    Then there’s all kinds of other stuff about the etymology of the word, and so on and so forth, but I just want to know how to use it correctly. Not to say that you’re not using it correctly Cory, but now I’m just confused. But maybe I’m over thinking it.


    Maybe the barcode is part of the design and not the actual barcode. Besides, don’t most bookstores use their own stickering systems instead of relying on the preprinted barcodes these days? Maybe that’s different in the UK though.

  7. @10 – I noticed the “stencil” over the barcode as well, and thought it was a nice touch. I’m not sure it’ll be unreadable, though – do you have a source or something that explains why? I thought barcode readers took samples from multiple places up and down the barcode, so maybe they could reconstruct it?

  8. I’m curious about the proper use of the word, “hearkens”.

    One of the things about being a grown-up writer is that you don’t have your sixth grade English teacher grading you for compliance with established language norms. Shakespeare coined thousands of new words and usages.

  9. like Antinous says.

    One use I’ve encountered is the phrase “harkens back”, eg. If someone chose to light their home solely with gas lamps, you might say “that harkens back to the time before electricity”

  10. I love the stencil-and-spraycan aesthetic of the UK cover, but I’m not quite sure what’s going on in the lower right corner. I hope it gets worked out for the final version.

  11. I’m currently using a TSA Notice of Baggage Inspection as a bookmark for Little Brother. It’s the perfect size and shape!

  12. Fantastic. I love it. UK cover > US cover (which, when I first saw, I said “Cory Doctorow is writing Runaways now?” until I saw the title) I mean, the US cover is not bad. But I love the UK cover more.

  13. You anyone mind translating whatever the binary message is in the first one?

    Y’know, because I’m too lazy to type it and plug it into an online translator myself.

  14. Niall @ 21

    It isn’t a Nike logo. It looks more like the “threshold” effect on the picture has accentuated the light and shadow of his left hand (the swoosh is part of his thumb), hanging over his knee and across the right side of his body.

    I’d say the original source picture would bear that out..

  15. Got it for my son when it was first out. The clerk had to go into the back and open the shipping box! :-)

    My daughter (16) grabbed it first thing after my son (12) went to bed after I gave it to him and stayed up all night to finish it. The it was him, myself and then my wife.

    Well think it’s great!

    Victoria, BC Canada

  16. Antinuous said:

    “One of the things about being a grown-up writer is that you don’t have your sixth grade English teacher grading you for compliance with established language norms. Shakespeare coined thousands of new words and usages.”

    I have no problem with neologisms if their clever or there’s no other way to express what you’re trying to express, and I have no problem with unconventional word use, but as an adult writer, I do want to speak clearly and concisely, and express what I’m trying to express without using a bigger word when a smaller one will do.

    I found this interesting tidbit on the web:

    Both hark and harken (and its variant hearken) mean to listen. Hark back began as a hunting term, according to Merriam-Webster Online. Hunters used it to direct the hunting party and the dogs to go back along a route to try to pick up a lost scent. Merriam-Webster reports that the variation harken back cropped up in the 20th century. Bryan Garner in his “Dictionary of American Usage” calls harken back and hearken back “needless variants” of hark back.

    Now to say Cory or anyone else is committing some crime against English grammar by using the word “hearkens” is beyond nitpicking, but as someone interested in words and their meanings and using them to express myself as clearly as I can, “hearkens” sounds like an unnecessary word to me. For some reason it sounded wrong in my head, and now I know why.

    No big deal really. I just thought it was interesting trivia.

  17. Congrats on 3 wks on the NYT bestsellers list. Next: the banned books list! You know it’s gotta be coming.

  18. That poster’s beautiful. Any chance Tor or Mr. Defendini might auction off a signed poster to benefit the EFF?

  19. it’s funny, but even though the US and UK covers are both aimed at teenagers, the graffiti version seems a bit edgier. maybe even a little more mature-looking?

    ps: Severe Haircut Woman will have her revenge on M1k3y!

  20. I’ve seen plenty of reviews of Little Brother, whether here, Amazon, or on Making Light. And, y’know, I’ve read it.
    I’d be really interested in seeing what a member of LB’s real target audience makes of it, though – an actual young adult.
    @Torrance, you definitely ought to post a review when you finish.
    @Michael Thorn, any chance of getting your kids to write up something short and put it up here?

  21. “hark”…. racial English memory dragon may be “hark at the child”; a provocative dismissive…least ways that’s my knee jerk. Not a connotation so much as a lingering taint.

  22. Tak: “hark at her” is still going strong in parts of England, and in campier circles.

  23. Looking at cover #2, I’m almost certain that barcode will not scan. You can mangle them but there has to be at least one slim section with all of the bars intact and I don’t think that has it.
    Could that be an in joke?

  24. dn’t vn mnd sng psts bt LB n ths frmt. ts th LB nw n sl t Brdrs styl psts tht bthr m. Gd t s y’r n lngr gnrng yr crtcs by jst shttng ff cmmnts.

    Wll dn sr.

  25. I call that a back-door swipe. Tossing jerks out the door who are busting up the furniture and puking on the rug is not “ignoring your critics”.

    “Criticism” MEANS something. And it does not mean “Triple O Zero, Licenced to Asshole”. I myself welcome and admire people who Do The Work. I love a good literary flensing by a master. I have nothing but contempt for those who spraypaint and run.

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