Petition for Programming F#’s Book Cover!

You might have noticed my blogging has slowed down to a lull; never fear, this is just because I have been working  it is been because I have been hard at work writing I am working full steam on finishing up Programming F#. But I cannot finish this book without your help, read on.

The good news

The good news is that the first three chapters of Programming F# should be available online at O’Reilly’s Rough Cuts site very soon. (Maybe this week…) Signing up for Safari will give you access to pre-release chapters of the book as well as give me feedback on how to make the book better. (Something I would greatly appreciate.)

The bad news

But to be honest, as much as I’d like your feedback on early chapters of the book what I really need your help on is convincing ‘the man’ that Programming F# deserves a better cover than merely a fish, a rat, or a rabbit. Seriously, a rabbit?!? The linked books are all great, but having some cute and cuddly creature on the front doesn’t really inspire me to take the technology seriously.

That is why when I first announced the book I mocked up a cover with a Squig.

The Squigg - old and busted 

But ‘the man’ shot me down. You see, if O’Reilly is going to start having creatures more awesome than a frog on the cover they need to enforce a few other rules:

  • The creature should be easily identifiable. The awesomeness of the Squig is self-evident, but few can name what it is exactly. The cover on the book should be something people could recognize.
  • The creature can’t be copyright. Most of the Squig’s awesomeness was due to the fact it was created by Games Workshop, currently licensed to Mythic Entertainment. Licensing stuff like this makes lawyers cry at night.

So I literally went back to the drawing board to think about what animal best represents F#. Something that conveys its multi-paradigm nature. Specifically, it supports imperative, object-oriented, and functional programming

Then it hit me. What creature has three heads and totally kicks ass?




Cerberus (Greek: Κέρβερος, Kérberos) is the name given to the entity which, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed dog which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping.

Now we are onto something, but to be honest having the gatekeeper for hell on the cover of my book doesn’t sit too well with me. While certainly keeping the denizens of Hades in check is a noble task, it carries along a lot of spirtual baggage. Is Cerberus evil? Or just doing his job?  Also, it isn’t like there are many cerberi – rather there is just the one (that I know of).

So, unfortunately I need to try again. But the more I think about it I like my second choice much better. Instead of Cerberus I went with a G-D-M-F-fire-breathing-HYDRA!



You don’t F with those, you know why? Because it’s got multiple heads, and since the specifics on hydras are pretty unclear I’m going to go ahead and say that the hydra on the cover of my book is both undead and breathes fire.

Yes people, a lich hydra that breaths hellfire from its multi-paradigm heads of destruction.

So, I present to you, the cover of my book hopefully awesome enough to make the powers that be rethink their ‘cute and cuddly’ colophons.

Hydra Half

Use Multi-Paradigm Programming to Devour Your Foes!

“The only thing better than one fire-breathing paradigm is three!”

Yeah, NOW we are talking.

Call to Action!

However, to be clear this isn’t my official book cover, but it would certainly be awesome if it was. So I need your help to convince the good folks at O’Reilly the same.

So please politely send a tell to @LaurelAtOReilly on Twitter and let her know that a Hydra would make a much better cover than whatever the hell is on the cover of Unix in a Nutshell.

I also have a Cafe Press site up for T-Shirts. I haven’t received mine in the mail yet so I can’t comment on how well they will turn out.

Thanks for your help and support. And remember: the ability to breath fire is always better than being furry. Always.

Comments (21)

  1. MichaelGG says:

    What about a gelatinous cube? F#’s gonna sneak up on all these cdevs and overpower them, so it sorta fits. And, depending on the lighting, you can’t really see it, so the artwork would be a snap.

    But in all seriousness, a chimera is a much better fit. The suggestion that Imperative/OO is a snake/goat is quite useful.

  2. MichaelGG says:

    Actually, have you considered a certain historical personage who supposedly has a divine tri-personality? Seeing as O’Reilly covers have things from chimps and tarsiers to spiders and beetles, we can be sure that whatever classification they use would most certainly include humans. And F# is sort of a saviour to VS developers…

  3. this is an excellent source

    coz it’s scary (and also Oreillyish ina a strange way

    for no good reason, except it looks so much llike a pokemon

    and my perpetual favorite

    btw the hydra got killed, so I think that rules it out.

    Don’t suppose

    has much of a chance

    Maybe some Francis Bacon?

    Damn, I need to get back to work.

  4. Keith Farmer says:

    Why not just use a real hydra? (actually, I don’t recall if O’Reilly already has one)

    Or, perhaps, an amoeboid? (the height of flexibility, and one of the most basic living constructs known)

    Then you can have bootleg versions of the book cover that include the USS Enterprise embedded in it…×240.jpg

  5. Greg Beech says:

    I don’t have a twitter account (I really don’t get the point of it) but I totally support your hydra!

    I’m looking forward to the book, but I’m not buying it if there’s anything cuddly on the front by way of protest now!

  6. Ryan Riley says:

    The hydra is stinkin’ awesome, but the chimera is quite an excellent suggestion, too. I’m behind them both and looking forward to the book.

  7. Carsten K. says:

    A shame you can’t use the squig (BTW: why not try and get GWs permission to use it? I think they are not that hard on these things – after all warcraft is build up entierly of warhammer models and I don’t think that GW gets a major share of those WoW hype 😉 )

    Well and if you can’t use the big ugly and don’t want to use the big cute ones – why not go mirco and take some amoeba or something similar – they tend to be as ugly as those squigs and I don’t think that you get legal issues.

  8. John Bates says:

    Just go for something with F(ing) sharp teeth.

    That ought to do the trick!

  9. logicalmind says:

    Due to the recursive nature of functional programming, why not something like this:

    The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end (See Phoenix (mythology)). It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished.

  10. Jörn R says:

    Considering F#’s potential for parallel processing, I thing the Hydra is the perfect animal for the book cover.

  11. Jarle Stabell says:

    I’m not on Twitter, but I think your Hydra cover suggestion is great. I also very much like the Ouroboros due to its obvious "tail recursion".

  12. Zach says:

    Proteus would make another good one, although you would probably want to get a custom artists’ rendition of the character.  Check out the Wikipedia article on Proteus:

  13. Mike Cheel says:

    What about a platypus? It’s made up of parts that are not normally found together much like F#. If it must be an animal I vote for this.

  14. L.M.R.O.B. says:

    Dude, copyright laws don’t make lawyers cry at night, they make lawyers lots of money. And I think that animal on the Unix book is some variation of lemur. Is there a reason the Cthulhu isn’t being considered? 😉

  15. verisimilidude says:

    All the animals on the O’Reilly covers (AFAIK) come from a Dover book of copyright free animal pictures.  I doubt that the book is still in print but it is mentioned in some of the colophons. Get a used copy off Amazon (or BN, etc.), look through it, and pick an animal from there.  I think that you will get a much better reception from the O’Reilly people if you allow them to keep their meme.  Just like if you try to add your workstation into a net that names their machines after animals you would get lots of push back if you wanted to name your machine Seattle.

  16. Niklas says:

    I think the Unix in a Nutshell cover animal is awesome — it’s exactly what every Unix guy I’ve encountered looks like.

  17. So as it turns out my petition for a kickass cover was ultimately unsuccessful. But the good news is

  18. Ogsy says:

    I think you should get the Kraken from Magical Trevor.  If I’m not mistaken his face is a haddock.

  19. Erik says:

    …. I want to play D&D with you…


  20. Erik says:

    @ogsy: Cheer up pig, don’t you cry… =)

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