A Tale of Two Cities

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The two covers above, considered side by side, are a wonderful comment on the marketing psychology of respective publishing operations. On the left we have the original U.S. hardcover and on the right, the French language version of the same book. So, let’s see…what’s the reader’s first impression going to be upon perusing the artwork and design?

American readers are apparently in for a hard-edged trek somewhere between Scott of the Antarctic and Call of the Wild. Cold, mean and macho.

And those jaded French surrender monkeys are, as usual, lacking in sufficient testosterone reserves and go all girly on us.

Or, to look at it another way; the French publisher figured out there are women in the book.

Somewhere along the line I developed a penchant for strong female characters; perhaps because so much of my formative education involved surviving encounters with them. Partially this goes back to a muddy, rainy night in Vietnam on which we were roughly handled by a Vietcong unit. After things quieted down we swept the area and discovered that all our adversaries had left behind were two bloody bras.

So there be Amazons.

To be fair, Absolute Zero does not always portray the kind of woman you’d want passing the Brie at your book club. Jolene is something of a gamer and a scrambler and is a former stripper and hoodlum as well as a recovering junkie. (For purposes of maintaining moral trim I did include a righteous nurse to serve as a counter weight.) All of which reminds me of an incident that is humorous only in hindsight. Once, at a sub-zero north woods retreat, I was surrounded by a group of women who had a decidedly politically correct bias. So they objected to Jolene as a character. It ended on a sour note when, backed into a corner, I tried to explain that it would be difficult for me to contrive a thriller scenario with the kind of female they’d approve of. Like, the thrills might be hard to come by…

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