Monday, January 17, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/15

This post goes up bright and early on Monday morning, as always, but today is a national holiday in the USA (though not for some school districts in the South, of course), which means many of you may not see it until Tuesday. But, compared with the billions of people who will never read this random blog post, what does that matter?

As usual, listed below are the books that came in my mail last week, all sent by publishers as part of their standard publicity and outreach efforts. I haven't read any of them yet, and -- from the evidence of the past, and the size of the pile of books I want to read -- I'm not likely to ever read all of them. But they're all new now or coming up soon, and I want to give them some attention, since the book I don't manage to read might be the one that's your favorite of the year.

So: what I'm about to type is based on a quick perusal of the marketing materials; from my own knowledge of publishing, bookselling, and stuff in general; and from my ineffable connection to the Mystic All. Take it all with a grain of salt, and I hope something sounds intriguing to you.

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing is the sixth "Thursday Next" novel from Jasper Fforde, whose last novel was the amazing Shades of Grey (which I reviewed last year, and made one of my favorite books of 2010). Fforde is a smart and deeply entertaining writer with the occasional tendency to be glib and superficial, but all of his novels have been, at the very least, zippy romps with a lot of humor and excitement in them, so I'm looking forward to this one, in which the fictional Thursday Next has to investigate the disappearance of the real Thursday. It's coming in hardcover from Viking in March.

Katherine Kerr is best known for her long "Deverry" secondary-world fantasy series, but secondary worlds are passe now -- really, ask any editor of your acquaintance if you don't believe me -- so she's launching a new series set in the modern world, with a tough female lead involved in both mayhem and romance. License to Ensorcell seems to be the first novel about Nola O'Grady, agent of a psychic government operation so secret she can't tell you its name, and it sees her returning to her hometown of San Francisco and teaming up with an infuriating Israeli named Ari to track down a werewolf-targeting serial killer. The back cover also hints at some family drama, so there looks to be plenty going on here -- and Kerr has been telling satisfying stories to fantasy readers for quite some time now, so I think she knows her business. License is a mass-market paperback from DAW in February.

DAW's science-fiction paperback in February, on the other hand, is S. Andrew Swann's novel Messiah, the third book of the "Apotheosis" space opera trilogy. The alien AI Adam is absorbing half of the universe into itself and destroying the other half, with only a few people holding out in a last-ditch resistance effort -- Can. They. Succeed? (What do you think?)

And DAW's horror offering for February is the anthology Zombiesque, edited by Stephen L. Antczak, James C. Bassett, and Martin H. Greenberg. Greenberg's Tekno Books operation is responsible for a collection of brand-new fiction just about every month for DAW -- I think it's actually every single month, but I'll err on the side of caution -- and this one has sixteen new stories about zombies that do more than just shamble and eat brains. Authors include Nancy A. Collins, Richard Lee Byers, Seanan McGuire, Jim C. Hines, Jean Rabe, and Nancy Holder.

Speaking of zombies, they also turn up in Madeleine Roux's debut novel, Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, which is also a novel in blog form (with comments and everything) about a small band of survivors trapped in the break room of a big-city book store when the Zombie Apocalypse hits. Allison Hewitt actually began as a blog, making it doubly ultra-modern, though I hope no one holds that against it. According to the blurbs, it's both funny and thrilling, and, if I can balance my massive ennui about zombies against my ever-high interest in epistolary novels and strongly individual first-person narrators, I might manage to read it myself. Tor is publishing Allison Hewitt on January 18 as a trade paperback -- light enough to throw into your backpack as you flee a zombie, though not hefty enough to batter one with if necessary.

David Moody's Autumn: The City is the second book (after, of course, Autumn itself) in a near-future apocalyptic series that never uses the word zombie (as the back cover helpfully explains), but there is "a disease of unimaginable ferocity" that "has torn across the face of the planet, leaving billions dead." (Once again, readers: that's you. You're not the survivor, statistically. You're one of the unnumbered dead. Please read John Varley's "The Manhattan Telephone Book, Abridged", the best story about apocalypse in our time.) And, of course, in time "the full effects of the horrific infection start to become clear." Get it!? ZOMBIES!!!!!! Lots and lots of really scary, flesh-eating zombies! Killing the minor characters first! Boogaboogaboogabooga!!!!!!!!

(I really should stop writing about zombies; I'm not at all coherent on the subject.)

Autumn: The City is coming in trade paper from Tor in February.

And while I'm writing about appalling futures, I should note that I also have in hand the graphic-novel version of Ayn Rand's Anthem, which was adapted by Charles Santino and Joe Staton. I have nothing at all coherent to say about it -- though I hope I will once I read it, since I can't let something this odd pass me by -- except to say that New American Library is publishing it as a trade paperback in February and that it appears to be shot directly from Staton's pencils.

M.M. Bucker has rewritten the mythical story of Orpheus as a near-future science fantasy novel, The Gravity Pilot, in which Orpheus is Orr, a skydiver who gains world-wide fame from a reckless jump and Eurydice is Dyce, the girlfriend who leaves him for a job in the underground city of Seattle. The background seems to be not entirely meathook-y, though there clearly are lurking lumps of grim nastiness. Tor will publish it in hardcover in March.

Cowboy Angels was Paul McAuley's new novel in the UK back in 2007, but it's taken until now to reach the US, possibly because it's about a particular USA being a particularly self-serving and nasty version of the Paratime Police from 1963 until President Jimmy Carter tries to reform the system in the late '70s. Views of one's own county's politics often look highly distorted through the lens of a writer from elsewhere in the world (McAuley is British), but this looks to be a decent alternate-worlds thriller, no matter what it's politics are.


Anonymous said...

Just a quick and minor correction - Allison Hewitt Is Trapped is being published by St. Martins/Macmillan

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: My apologies, you are absolutely correct. I sometimes tend to elide "SFF published from 175 Fifth Avenue" into "Tor," and that's not at all the case; plenty of other pieces of Macmillan do interesting genre books, and Allison Hewitt Is Trapped is published by the venerable St. Martin's Press.

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