Presidents, messiahs, shamans, popes, saints and lunatics had attempted - over the passage of a millennium - to buy, murder, drug and flagellate themselves into Quiddity. Almost to a one, they'd failed. The dream-sea had been more or less preserved, its existence an exquisite rumor...
Only two volumes have been published; the (excellent) sequel, Everville, was released in 1994. Barker unfailingly has insisted in the 15 years since that he's still planning on the final piece, but who knows? Barker has always insisted the project he was asked about was right around the corner, nearly finished. Hell, I remember him in 1991 talking about how he was directing the remake of The Mummy. The Mummy!
1999 Harper reprint
What I love about this UK cover is that each element is actually in the book. This is not always the case with cover art, as I'm sure everyone knows. I love the tiny embroidered details, in the same design as the UK edition of Weaveworld. Again, it's obvious the artist (unknown) read the entire book, from beginning to end, and didn't simply come up with one lame image to identify it. Compare it with the US cover, both paperback and hardcover: a mailbox. Because the first few pages take place in a post office. There you go. Guess that's as far as the artist read!
This hardcover UK first edition is actually my favorite horror fiction cover art ever; when I first saw it I thought it was some kind of fancy illustrated limited-edition version. It's not. It's the first edition UK hardcover, that's all. It's beautiful all the way round. I love its sickly yet elegant greenish hue. Guess I could live without the Groucho Marx there, though. Still.
Great and Secret Show since its original publication but I recall it fondly, and I loved Everville as well. Once I started reading scholarly mythologists Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade a little while later, I loved the books even more and could easily see from where Barker drew inspiration. Rich in transformative moments and transcendent visions, in themes eternal and ephemera most profound, the first two volumes of The Art have set a very high standard for that long-proposed third. We await the dream-sea, Mr. Barker!
Here's an impossibly young-looking Barker taking his trade to the housewives of the land on Good Morning America in 1990.