Monday, August 17, 2009

Reviewing the Mail, Week of 8/15: Part Two: SF and Fantasy

See this morning's first post for the reasons for the split and my weekly attempt to explain why I do this in the first place; here are the books that arrived last week that have just words on their pages:

I'm giving Freda Warrington's Elfland pride of place here because it has my favorite SF/F cover this week -- a gorgeously evocative painting from Kinuko Y. Craft. (Goes to check the flap to see if he got it right -- Yes!) Warrington is a British writer with seventeen novels under her belt, but Elfland is the first one to be published in the US, and is the first novel in a series that the book itself calls "Aetherial Tales" but the letter refers to as "Books of the Silver Wheel." It's a contemporary fantasy about a society of Aetherials -- humanoids who came to Earth from the Otherworld some long time ago, and presumably have some variety of magical abilities -- and their travails when the usual every-seven-years opening of the Gates to their homeland doesn't happen on schedule. Tor will publish Elfland in hardcover on August 18th, which is tomorrow.

The Silver Skull is a Cold War novel, about an island nation under secret siege from an implacable enemy that seeks to overwhelm and conquer it, and the superspy who battles those enemies to save his Queen. It is England, but the Queen is the first Elizabeth and the spy is Will Swyfte (a name that possibly seemed more glamorous in the 1560s than it does to my ears). And the enemy is the forces of Faerie. Now, it may be just because I'm in the middle of reading all of the James Bond books, but that sounds like a damn good premise to me. But Mark Chadbourn thought of it first, so my hat is off to him. (And my cloak is covering a mud puddle so he can cross the street.) Pyr will publish The Silver Skull in November as a trade paperback, and I imagine they will have more in the series down the road.

From DAW as a September mass-market is Seanan McGuire's debut novel, Rosemary and Rue, the first book in a contemporary fantasy series with a strong Faerie strain. I'm sorry to inform you that McGuire's series heroine has the stripperific name October Daye, though. But it's entirely possible that she's already tormented her (fictional) parents sufficiently for that.

I mentioned E. Van Lowe's Young Adult novel Never Slow Dance with a Zombie -- about a high school overrun with zombies in the middle of the heroine's junior year -- when I saw the bound galley a few weeks ago, but I now have the finished book, so I'll mention it again. I like the title, I like the cover, and I particularly like (given the books I've been reading this past year, like How To Ditch Your Fairy and Flora's Dare) YA novels with first-person female narrators. So, if I ever get the time to actually read it, I expect I'd like Never Slow Dance With a Zombie. Tor Teen is publishing it as a really cheap trade paperback ($8.99!)...tomorrow!

Barely Bewitched is the second novel in a humorous and romantic contemporary fantasy series that prides itself on its southern flavor. (Although it's set in Texas, and I know plenty of people who argue that Texas is not part of "the South," in its Platonic form.) The author is Kimberly Frost, the first-person witch narrator has the very southern name Tammy Jo, and the first book (in case you remember it) was Would-Be Witch. Berkley publishes Barely Bewitched on September 1st as a trade paperback.

Every month, DAW has an anthology from the Tekno Books machine -- it's almost like a big magazine, with some semi-regular contributors and an ever-changing theme. This time out, the issue is called Intelligent Design and the editor is Denise Little. It has eleven original SF stories -- from writers like Laura Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jody Lynn Nye, and Janny Wurts -- on the subject of evolution vs. creationism. (I expect a fair number of alien gods to be involved, but I could be projecting a '50s mindset onto it.) The Usual Suspects should note that six of the stories here -- more than half -- are by women, so they can't complain about it. Perhaps they'd prefer to celebrate something instead? Intelligent Design is a September DAW mass-market paperback, making its way through the distribution chain right this moment.

Violette Malan's new novel The Storm Witch -- a September trade paperback from DAW -- is another adventure of yet more people with interesting names, Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane. Dhu and Par -- I call them by their nicknames, the little scamps -- are both Partners with a capital P and members of the Mercenary Guild with a capital MG. (Though, sadly, they don't drive an MG, which would be a totally awesome thing to toss into an otherwise normal sword-and-sorcery novel.) Please do not confuse Malan's The Storm Witch with Jam'es Clem'ens' Wit'ch Storm, which is completely different and has the capability to completely fry your brain.

And last for this week is another DAW book: Mickey Zucker Reichert's Flight of the Renshai. It sees Reichert return to her most popular series for the first time since 1998's The Children of Wrath. And it's got a nice Jody Lee cover of a man who doesn't seem to have any eyeballs. (I am assuming, tentatively, that this is a plot point.) He does have a couple of cool swords, though, and the requisite flowy red hair to show that this is a Norse-inspired fantasy. Flight of the Renshai will hit stores in hardcover on September 1st.
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Listening to: Over The Rhine - It's Never Quite What It Seems
via FoxyTunes

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