Monday, October 12, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/10, Part Two: Everything Else

See the earlier post this morning for all of the weekly introductory fluff; this post contains thoughts and notes on the review books I received last week that aren't being published by Yen Press. And so I'll dive right in:

There's a new edition of Fritz Leiber's great seminal urban fantasy Conjure Wife -- it's from 1943, two to three generations before all these Janie-come-latelies, with their tramp stamps and high heels, crouching on the covers of their books (pardon me if I sound like an old coot, but this really is one of the great little-known predecessors to the modern genre) -- from Tor's Orb imprint. It was published September 29th in trade paperback, which means it should be available everywhere now. Conjure Wife isn't quite as good as Leiber's later urban fantasy novel Our Lady of Darkness, but it's a fascinating novel of magic and power struggles, and an eye-opening look at a pre-feminist conception of female power.

Steven L. Kent's "Clone" series for Ace rolls along into a fifth volume with The Clone Betrayal, a November mass-market paperback. I haven't read any of 'em, but I expect that they're filled with slam-bang military action the way you like it.

Also from Ace in mass-market in November, and also the latest in a military SF series, is Kris Longknife: Undaunted by Mike Shepherd, the seventh in that series. I similarly have no informed opinion about these books, since I haven't read them either.

Devon Monk's urban fantasy series about Allie Beckstrom, a magician and a magic-policing Hound, hits a third book with Magic in the Shadows, coming from Roc in November. I'm now zero-for-three on these Penguin series, for those of you keeping score at home.

And DAW's anthology of the month for November is The Trouble With Heroes, edited by Denise Little, which features 22 new stories about great heroes seen in a "behind-the-scenes" way, by mostly the usual suspects from previous TeknoBooks anthologies. (Some of them are medium-sized names, like Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Laura Resnick, but I see the same names in these books very regularly.) The interesting thing with Heroes is the cover, which I can't quite figure out. Is the smiling wench supposed to be someone who's charmed the unseen hero out of his armor? Is she his maid, cleaning up after him after he came home from the wars? She's got a vaguely harlot-esque air, but I can't quite figure out who she's supposed to be or what she's doing. Please leave any suggestions or ideas in the comments below.

Switching from prose to comics for a moment, I have here a new graphic novel by Jesse Lonergan, Joe & Azat. It's loosely based on Lonergan's own Peace Corps experiences in Turkmenistan, and is about a young American in (yes!) Turkmenistan. What little I've heard about Turkmenistan makes it sound fascinating -- they've got a self-obsessed dictator who's slowly renaming everything (down to the days of the week and the months of the year) after himself, his mother, and the country. Joe and Azat will be published in November by NBM.

I have two books this week that I've seen once before: first is Prince of Stories, a guide to the fictional worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden and Stephen R. Bissette, which is coming in a new trade paperback edition from St. Martin's Press on October 27th. So if last year's hardcover was too rich for your blood, this one may be just right.

The other return engagement is James Enge's This Crooked Way, his second novel about the wandering rogue Morlock Ambrosius -- I saw it as a bound galley a few weeks ago, but it's now a real book, published October 6th from Pyr.

Harry Turtledove's The Golden Shrine is the third book in the prehistoric fantasy series that also includes Beyond the Gap and Breath of God; Tor is publishing it in hardcover tomorrow. Interestingly, the book itself makes no mention that it's the third in a series -- I hope that doesn't mean that the series isn't doing well, since I liked the first one quite a bit. Wikipedia seems to think that this series is a trilogy, but the book -- being silent on the whole part-of-a-series question to begin with -- has nothing to confirm or deny that.

Time Travelers Never Die is, if I'm not forgetting something, Jack McDevitt's first standalone novel since Infinity Beach in 2000. It's also, as you might guess from the title, a time-travel book. I've liked all of Jack's books that I've read, though some people do fault him for being excessively old-fashioned. I haven't read a McDevitt novel in several years now, I'm surprised to notice, so I might make a run at this one.

Katharine Kerr has been writing novels about the fantasy realm of Deverry since her first novel, Daggerspell, back in 1986. But her new book -- The Silver Mage, which is also the fourth volume of the current sub-series, "The Silver Wyrm" -- is being billed as the last-ever, concluding book in that long series. So if there's anyone out there who has been waiting for the end to finally get started on Daggerspell, this is your official notice.

The Dragon Book, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, is a major original fantasy anthology, being published by Ace in hardcover on November 3rd. It's got nineteen new stories by writers such as Kage Baker, Peter S. Beagle, Tad Williams, Harry Turtledove, Diana Wynne Jones, Tanith Lee, Andy Duncan, and the folks listed on the cover. For the benefit of the Anthology Cops, I'll note that ten of the stories -- just over half -- are written or co-written by women, so this book is officially Correct on that basis. (Or perhaps not; I'm sure there's someone who will insist that anthologies need to over-represent women for some span of time -- possibly corresponding to that female complainant's expected short-fiction career -- to make up for the sins of the past.) I won't attempt to characterize the contributors ethnically, but that's more likely to provide complaint fodder from writers who did not have stories accepted into this anthology.

And last for this week is a book I've already mentioned once, since I bought it as soon as I saw it: Masterpiece Comics by R. Sikoryak. This copy came to me directly from the fine publicity folks at Drawn & Quarterly, and it serves to remind me that perhaps I should wait until a book has been out in the world a short time before I buy it for myself, just in case I'm on some publicity list somewhere.

And, with that thought in mind, I'll close by mentioning that I'm trying to figure out how long I should wait before I break down and buy Terry Pratchett's new novel Unseen Academicals. I'm particularly torn, since I have in hand another one of those 40% off coupons from one of our major bookstore chains...
Listening to: Be Your Own Pet - Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle
via FoxyTunes


FS said...

What little I've heard about Turkmenistan makes it sound fascinating -- they've got a self-obsessed dictator who's slowly renaming everything (down to the days of the week and the months of the year) after himself, his mother, and the country

Turkmenistan's megalomanical dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in December 2006. The current ruler is no great shakes, but not clearly insane, either.

RobB said...

Kind of a weird publishing decision on Tor/Orb's part with Conjure Wife, they doubled that up with Our Lady of Darkness about a decade ago and now they split it up. Odd, that, don't you think?

That cover for the Heroes anthology looks almost erotic.

Andrew Wheeler said...

RobB: Repackaging is like corporate restructuring -- you put together things that are separate, and separate things that are together -- so it makes sense, after ten years, to break them into separate books. I'm mostly just happy to see that they're actively publishing Leiber.

RobB said...

It is good to see that book available, I agree. I guess they are saving money by not including OUr Lady of Darkness/

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