Monday, April 12, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/10

There were a good dozen books this week, but I don't think I have all that much to say about any of them, so let's get right to the disclaimer:
These are the books that came in my mail last week, mostly as a surprise to me. I haven't read any of them yet, and won't manage to read all of them at any point. But this is what I can tell you about them from prior knowledge, wild assumptions, and a quick glance at the books themselves.
Hey, remember last week, when I saw Adrian Tchaikovsky's Empire in Black and Gold -- second in his "Shadows of the Apt" epic fantasy series -- and said that I expected to see the third book any minute? Well, this is now "any minute," because I'm holding Blood of the Mantis, that third book. (If there's any epic fantasy reader out there complaining about the pace of publication of this series, I will happily beat him to death with a first edition Eye of the World.) Blood of the Mantis will be published by Pyr in trade paperback on May 4th, which gives all you epic fantasy readers just enough time to get caught up to Empire in Black and Gold. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to see book four -- Salute the Dark -- following sooner than any of us expect.

Somehow I've gotten onto Tokyopop's mailing list for shojo, which I'm very grateful for -- I like seeing what's being published in whatever subgenre -- but it always amuses me, since I have two very boyish boys (who just bought a bunch of shonen manga today with gift cards) and my own tastes probably go more in the boyish direction most of the time. And a few books from Tokyopop came in this week, all publishing in May:
  • Fruits Basket Banquet is a kitchen-sink collection of odds and ends related to Natsuki Takaya's popular Fruits Basket series, with more than a dozen pages of color art, the results of a whole bunch of contests (mostly of the favorite character/favorite chapter type) from Japan, and whatever else the editors could find.
  • Also from Takaya is Songs to Make You Smile, a collection of her shorter stories, including a side story from Tsubasa: Those With Wings.
  • Cute Devil is the obligatory yaoi story, by Hiro Madarame, with some aggressive boy-on-boy cheek-licking on the cover.
  • Julietta Suzuki's Karakuri Odette returns for a third volume; you can read my review of the first volume of this humorous robot-girl-wants-to-be-human story over at ComicMix.
  • And last from Tokyopop is the first volume of Ratman, by Inui Sekihiko, about a geek who wants to become a superhero -- and does. It Kick-Ass were Japanese and much less obsessed about how cool it is, it might be Ratman.
The first I heard of the anthology The Dragon and the Stars (edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi) was when the usual folks on the Internet began to complain that the dragon on the cover wasn't Chinese enough for this book of SF/Fantasy stories by writers of Chinese ancestry. If you know anything about me, you'll know that I have very little time for identity politics, so I decided that I liked Dragon and the Stars right then. The book itself has arrived -- it's a mass-market from DAW in May, that month's arrival from the anthology-of-the-month machine of Tekno Books -- and it has eighteen original stories, all from writers officially certified as being of Chinese descent (and so safe from the Diversity Police). Among those writers are Tony Pi, Charles Tan, Eugie Foster, and Brenda W. Clough, along with a bunch of others I hadn't heard of before (not that that means much these days, since I'm so out of touch with short fiction). If you can manage to get beyond the wrong-dragon issue, it looks like a fine anthology.

Camille Bacon-Smith's new novel, A Legacy of Daemons, is a sequel to her two urban fantasy novels (Eye of the Daemon and Eyes of the Empress) from the mid '90s -- and, in the Small World department, I'll note that I bought those two books for a 2-in-1, Daemons, Inc., for the SFBC back then. (Though DAW seems to have forgotten that when they put those books together -- for the first time ever!, they claimed -- as Daemon Eyes recently.) Like so many urban fantasy books, Legacy has main characters who aren't nearly as human as they seem, and who investigate uncanny crimes and problems. I remember the first two books as being pretty good examples of the genre -- I must have liked them; I spent corporate money on them -- and it's good to see Bacon-Smith back after a decade away. Legacy is another mass market paperback from DAW in May.

And the third DAW May mass-market is the reprint of C.J. Cherryh's Conspirator, the tenth book in her atevi series. I read the first eight or nine of these for the SFBC, liked them all, and spent corporate money on 'em, too.

The second book from Tor's Heavy Metal Pulp imprint -- co-branded with Heavy Metal magazine -- is the sequel to the first book from that imprint, as Christopher Rowley follows Pleasure Model with The Bloodstained Man. It has a lot of small illustrations, similar to comics panels, which probably makes it the North American equivalent of a light novel. And it will be out in stores in June as a trade paperback, just in time for beach reading.

Tor is also the publisher of Eric Nylund's All That Lives Must Die, a follow-up to his young adult fantasy novel Mortal Coils, a post-Percy Jackson tale of twin children of the Gods (in this case, the elder fate Atropos and Lucifer) going to a special school. I haven't read the first one, but I did read Nylund's '90s contemporary fantasy Dry Water, which was a damn good book in a Tim Powers idiom. So this guy can definitely write, and I hope that the kids are enjoying this series. (Maybe I'll try it out on mine.)

And last for this week is another book about gods for younger readers: George O'Connor's graphic novel Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, second in his four-book series about the Greek gods. This looks to be reasonably accurate to the mythology, if presented in a very dynamic, neo-Sandman art style. It's coming from First Second this month, and I expect both my older son (who's on a Greek-gods kick, having read a big chunk of Edith Hamilton recently) and I to enjoy it.
Listening to: They Might Be Giants - Whirlpool
via FoxyTunes

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