Monday, June 21, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/19

Every week, the crack staff of Antick Musings -- which consists of me, myself and I -- receive literally ones of packages arriving from far-flung corners of the globe (though mostly from midtown Manhattan, where Big Publishing lives), sent in hopes that the crack staff (same as before) will read and review the books contained therein. Now, even if there were three of me -- and there aren't, last I checked -- I doubt I'd be able to read everything I saw. But what I can do is tell you all about those books as they come in, and that's where "Reviewing the Mail" steps in.

The following is a list of the books that came in the mail last week. I haven't read any of them yet. But I do have them right here in front of me, so let's see what I can figure out about them, in the hopes that you'll find something that you'll consider colossally amazing. (Which, of course, may be very, very different from what I would find colossally amazing.)

I'll give pride of place to a big book by a big author that I've read intermittently, because I know I won't get to this one. (It violates my Prime Directive for fiction: I refuse, on principle, to read any book that murders me or my family.) David Weber's Out of the Dark is the first in a new series, in which an alien race arrives and conquers Earth with ease, leaving half the human race dead. (See that part? That's what I object to in a book.) But the inevitable human resistance -- a book like this is always about the dogged, under-equipped group of rag-tag rebels who thumb their noses at the alien oppressors and who will manage, after two movies or six books, to find the terribly unlikely Huge Weakness of the aliens and exploit it to emerge triumphant -- is not quite as rag-tag as they might otherwise be, since they have new allies. Yes, the vampires are coming out of hiding. So the elevator pitch for Out of the Dark is "Aliens Vs. Vampires," and I expect a lot of people will want to read that. You'll all get your chance in October, when Tor will publish Out of the Dark in hardcover.

To switch gears entirely, I also have three books related to The Last Airbender, the movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan based on the TV cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. (As you might have noticed, there was a small art-house movie that used the title Avatar earlier this year, so Shyamalan and his backers presumably dropped the first word from their title to reduce confusion.) All three of these books are being published as paperbacks by Del Rey, all of them will be out in full distribution by tomorrow, and all of them are comics of one kind or another:
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, Vol. 1 adapts the first episode of the TV series into "cine-manga" format (using art, not always in screen format, from the show to tell the story). It was originally published by TokyoPop in 2006, and, if there are any credits as to who actually did the work to put this story into book form (choosing and placing the art, designing the pages, adapting the script, etc.), I wasn't able to find them. The TV show was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko -- I can tell you that much. (The book doesn't even say who wrote that particular episode -- though, luckily, Del Rey is a book publisher, rather than a comics publisher, so they don't add insult to injury by having the usual comics-publisher page of corporate suits cluttering up the front matter for no good reason.)
  • The Last Airbender, on the other hand, directly adapts the new movie into comics form, and it does have credits: the story is by Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus, and the art is by Joon Choi.
  • And last is The Last Airbender: Prequel: Zuko's Story, which also was written by Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus, with art by Nina Matsumoto (who also writes and draws the series Yokaiden for Del Rey). As the title baldly states, it's a prequel to the movie's story, focusing on the young antagonist Zuko.
Blood Song is the first in a new urban fantasy series by Cat Adams -- an open pen-name for the established and bestselling writing team C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, who presumably wanted a shorter byline and didn't mind sharing -- about a half-vampire bodyguard in a world where supernatural creatures live openly. Tor published this in trade paperback on June 8th, and I hope all the Internet complainers who make snide comments about standard Urban Fantasy covers -- leather outfits, tramp stamps, heavy weaponry, and backsides all compulsory -- will note the subdued but spooky cover on this book and be compelled to read and love it.

I really should have read Brandon Sanderson before now -- I've known and been friendly with both his editor and his agent for close to twenty years now, and both of them (not to mention other people, economically unconnected with Sanderson's success) have burbled to me about how good he is at the epic fantasy thing -- but his books are just So Darn Big that it's always been easier to use them to scare off highwaymen or hurl at small animals instead. I have another opportunity now, since he's launching a new series of secondary-world doorstops with The Way of Kings, which clocks in at 1007 pages in bound-galley form. [1] Way of Kings is coming from Tor in August as a major hardcover, and those of you who prefer thousand-page bricks should be really, really happy.

The Office of Shadow is the second novel by Matthew Sturges (also known as a comics writer, working with Bill Willingham on Jack of Fables and House of Mystery), following Midwinter, to which it is a sequel. I haven't read the first book, but this one looks like a variation on the Cold War spy thriller, with the two warring powers being the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of Faerie. Pyr published Office of Shadow in trade paperback last week; you should be able to find it right now wherever it is you prefer to buy books.

Also coming from Pyr -- in hardcover, on July 6th -- is Ian McDonald's new novel The Dervish House. It's another one of his aggressively global futures -- he's one of the few writers to think seriously about what the future would look like in other parts of the world, like India in River of Gods or Brasil in Brasyl -- set almost two decades from now in Istanbul. I'll fully admit that I need to read more McDonald -- every book of his I've gotten to is thoughtful, compelling, and deeply interesting -- so this will go onto my pile, and I will have the full intention of reading it (or maybe Desolation Road) Real Soon Now.

And last for this week is a webcomic collection from Del Rey: Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn by series creator Meredith Gran. I'll admit that I've only read bits of Octopus Pie so far -- it's the kind of series where you have to get to know the characters and their relationships to get the most out of it -- but I'm looking forward to diving into the book and finally getting a good handle on it. This book collects the first two years of the series, so there can be no better way to get into it. There Are No Stars in Brooklyn officially publishes tomorrow, so I suspect it will already be everywhere, if you want it right away.

[1] I know there are people who prefer long books, but I'm usually not one of them -- I have so many books I want to read, that I begrudge the extra time any of them take, since that time could be used to read two or three other books.
Listening to: Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea - Heavy Boots
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

madscientistnz said...

My US mass-market paperbacks of Brandon Sanderson's Elantris and the Mistborn trilogy are only a little (and I mean 1-2 millimeters) bigger than than my average mass-market book.

It only takes me longer to read them than a normal book, because I slow down towards the end in an effort to make them last longer!

I can't quite see how that makes them a doorstoper? (Given that doorstopper equals Tad Williams or Robert Jordan)

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