Monday, November 23, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/21

The following is an annotated list of books that arrived in my mailbox last week -- both the publishers of those books and myself hope that I'll eventually review those books and greatly enjoy them. However, this is a fallen world, so it's likely that I'll never get to many of these books and dislike several others. But I can give them all at least a little bit of mostly positive attention now.

In other words: I haven't read any of these yet, but, right at this moment, I still have hopes that I will read them all. You may be more excited about any one of these books than I am; that's one major reason I do these lists -- we don't all have the same tastes.

Anyway, here's what I saw this past week:

The third of Alex Bledsoe's "Eddie LaCrosse" hardboiled medieval detective thrillers, Burn Me Deadly, was published by Tor on November 10th. They sound like the kind of thing I'd like, but I haven't tried them yet -- perhaps in part because they also sound like Glen Cook's "Garrett Files" books, which have never worked for me. (Despite liking a number of Cook's other, more traditional, fantasies.) Anyone out there read both and willing to make a comparison in public?

Brenda Cooper's Wings of Creation is also a sequel -- to Cooper's Endeavor Award-winning The Silver Ship and the Sea -- and it also was published by Tor on November 10th. This one is medium-future SF, set on a world with a subspecies of humanity manipulated into "fliers" -- the backstory seems to involve a mildly technologically-speciated human race, and possibly a overall polity organizing and controlling all of the groups -- whom the series hero, Joseph, must free.

Speaking of sequels, Divine Misdemeanors is the eighth book in Laurell K. Hamilton's "Meredith Gentry" series, about an elf princess in the human world and the various sex acts she gets herself caught up in. (There may be more to the plot of the series than that, but that's what it's always looked like from my POV. Also, I note that Hamilton has gotten important enough that this book has the subtitle "a novel," perhaps because "a series of sex acts, all of which involve at least one participant with pointy ears" would look silly on a book cover.) This one is coming December 8th from Ballantine.

And back to Tor for a book that begins a series -- it's all series this week, isn't it? -- Lawrence Watt-Evans's A Young Man Without Magic. I like the title, I like the cover, I like Watt-Evans...so I hope I manage to read the darn thing. If I remember right, the plot is influenced by Sabatini (though the title, obviously, has an echo of Austen), which also makes it sound like the kind of thing I should like.

The rest of this week's list is from a single box of recent Philippine SF and comics, sent to me by the inimitable Charles Tan. I'm sure they're difficult or impossible to obtain on this side of the Pacific, but -- if these are half as good as the comics I reviewed for ComicMix back in April -- they're worth searching for. All of them are already published (obviously, since I have real books, and they had to make their way across an ocean and a continent to reach me), but mentioning the names of the publisher probably wouldn't help much. Only a couple of them -- and none of the graphic novels, sadly -- are available from the usual supposedly-carries-everything bookstore that I regularly link to, so I'm afraid you're on your own to find Trese and Elmer. (Though you should.)

First is Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories, the first collection from Manilla writer Yvette Tan. (No apparent relation to Charles -- or to Cecilia, to stretch to the only other person named "Tan" in the field I can think of -- but I expect Tan is a more common name at that end of the world. Witness the several "Smiths" in the SF field over the years -- E.E., George O., Cordwainer, Clark Ashton, David Alexander, Dean Wesley, etc.) Two of the ten stories here were honorable mentions in the 2008 Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and several won or were mentioned by various local awards.

A Time for Dragons is an original anthology edited by Vincent Michael Simbulan, with stories by Dean Francis Alfar, Paolo Chikiamco, Dominique Cimafranca, Apol Lejano-Massebieau, Elyss Punsalan, and Yvette Tan. (There are seventeen stories in all, plus an essay from Charles Tan.) The theme is dragons, if you didn't get that from the title. I would usually grump about yet another anthology about dragons, but I don't think the Philippines have had one yet -- and I'm willing to allow each country in the world to have one anthology about dragons at some point. I think that's only fair. So it's now the turn of Brazil, or Zimbabwe, or Kazahkstan.

Hey! There's a third Treese book! This one is Mass Murders, and it's written by Burdjette Tan with art from KaJo Baldismo, like the first two (see my link above for a review). The Treese stories are excellent urban fantasy stories, very similar to the North American standard for the subgenre -- down to the tough female main character -- enlivened, for a jaded American audience, by the fact that the supernatural entities are Philippine and thus unfamiliar to us. These stories would be strong urban fantasy even without that edge, but their originality makes them even better. Hellboy fans in particular should try to track these down.

I've also got the third issue of the quarterly Komikero Komiks Anthology (which also has a website), featuring new work from Gerry Alanguilan, Hazel Chua, Jason C. Torres, Ariel Atienza, and a number of others.

Also in the floppy category is PGS: The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. The issue I have here doesn't seem to have a number on the cover, but it is "the special horror issue," edited by Yvette Tan and featuring six new stories.

Where Bold Stars Go To Die is a sexy short graphic novel written by Gerry Alanguillan with art by Arlanzandro C. Esmena (pretend that there's a tilde over that n), about a young man obsessed with an '80s porn star. The art is both crisp and lush, and the writing looks to be up to Alanguilan's usual high standard.

Also from Alanguilan is a collection of his Elmer comics series -- which I also reviewed at that ComicMix link up above, and which I also recommend wholeheartedly. I can't add anything more than the great quote on the front cover, from Adam David of the Philippines Free Press: "It's the Great Filipino Novel, with chickens." Well, maybe I can add one thing: they're talking chickens!

Moving back to prose, there's Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar, the latest in an annual series. It has twenty four stories, all but one of them original, but also serves as a kind of "best of the year" for Philippine SFF. It has stories from -- going in reverse alphabetical order for once -- Kenneth Yu, Isabel Yap, Celestine Trinidad, Maryanne Moll, Crystal Koo, Erica Gonzales, Monique Francisco, Kate Aton-Osias, and many others.

And last for this week is another Philippine graphic novel -- an anthology called Underpass, with stories from Alanguilan, Budjette Tan and Baldisimo, plus two more stories by other hands.
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Listening to: The Octopus Project - Loud Murmuring
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

skottk said...

Thanks as always. I envy your mail.

Here, in gratitude, is a ñ for you.

That's hold-down-the-alt-key-while-using-numpad-to-type 0241.
ñ. Alt-0241.

If you're on a laptop, especially a Mac, you may be out of luck.

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