Monday, December 15, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/13

First, the explanation: when you review books (as I do, in my odd Internetty fashion), you get books to review, and usually more than you can comfortably review. Since I want to mention as many books as possible -- my tastes will not be identical to my readers, for one thing, and I want to encourage reading and book-buying in general -- I started listing everything that came in, so that even books I don't manage to review will get a bit of attention.

This can be a slow time of year for publishing, since anything expected to sell for Christmas needed to be out at least a month ago. At least, that's why I think I only got four books in the mail this week:

Rich Horton's annual Fantasy: The Best of the Year: 2008 Edition (a book with as many colons as a crossover spinoff comic-book) came to me directly from the author, for added guilt. It features nineteen stories originally published in 2007, from such authors as Kelly Link, Andy Duncan, Daniel Abraham, Ian R. MacLeod, Holly Phillips, and Garth Nix. I have in my hands the trade paperback edition, which was published by Prime way back in January, but there's also a more economical mass-market paperback edition (also from Prime) that hit stores in late September.

Pyr will publish Mike Resnick's Starship: Rebel, fourth in the five-book military SF series about the plucky starship Teddy Roosevelt and her crew, tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Most places that will have it should already have it today, even, if you don't feel like waiting. I haven't read the earlier books -- this is another series that was sitting on my "possible omnibuses" shelf back at the book clubs when I was ousted last year -- but Mike is one of the most dependable writers of SF adventure out there, and Pyr isn't know for publishing clunkers, either. I will note that this book has five pages of quotes for the earlier books in the series in its frontmatter -- after the endpapers and before the half-title page -- which I always find very tacky and paperback-looking. But, these days, it's probably just what you've got to do to attract eyeballs.

I saw the new "Wild Cards" book, Busted Flush, as a bound galley a few months ago, but haven't managed to read it. (The fact that it's essentially the middle book of a trilogy might have pushed me away, slightly.) It's now shown up as a very shiny hardcover, with a nice but generic-fantasy-looking cover by Michael Komarck. (It doesn't in any way indicate that this is a superhero series set in the modern world, possibly to trick fans of editor George R.R. Martin -- whose name is the biggest thing on the cover -- into picking it up.) I used to really like the "Wild Cards" books, back in the late '80s before they turned into an intensely gloomy series of stories about body-stealers and all of the kinds of rape the writers could devise. Tor is publishing Busted Flush -- well, this one is also coming tomorrow.

And last for this week is a book slightly further in the future: Carol Lay's new autobiographical graphic novel The Big Skinny. Lay, like many of us, was overweight most of her life. But she got down to a healthy weight a few years ago, and has kept to that weight since. Big Skinny is one part the story of how she did it, and one part inspiration for her readers to do the same. The lessons are the same ones that should be familiar by now -- eat less, exercise more, keep track of what you eat -- but maybe putting them in comics form will help some people. (And Lay's pages, from a quick glance, are both information-packed and fun to read.) Big Skinny will be published on January 6th as an oversized trade paperback by Villard.


Anonymous said...

I used to really like the "Wild Cards" books, back in the late '80s before they turned into an intensely gloomy series of stories about body-stealers and all of the kinds of rape the writers could devise.

The rape-as-plot-parsley shows up annoyingly early in Wild Cards, long before the body snatchers sequence. It's one of the most annoying things about the series.

One of the interesting things about Busted Flush is that one of the contributor, and I think it's Snodgrass but I am not checking, isn't listed by their own name but only by the name of their company. I had to do some detective work to figure out who they were because there happens to be a lighting company with the same name.

I guess I could have just emailed their editor but where's the fun in that?

Ran said...

My understanding is that Busted Flush (and its immediate predecessor) update the setting to the present and is supposed to be, on the whole, rather more upbeat and less grim-and-gritty than certain past novels in the sequence. Might be time to give it a fresh look. :)

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