Monday, May 16, 2011
First off, just to be confusing, is a book I didn't get in the mail. I bought it yesterday, in an actual physical bookstore -- the kind that are supposed to be DOOMED -- in the form of a stack of papers inside a cloth cover (also supposedly DOOMED), after ordering it online to be sure it would be there. And that book is A Drop of the Hard Stuff, the seventeenth novel about the detective Matt Scudder, and it was written by the incomparable Lawrence Block. It's the first new book in the series since 2005's All the Flowers Are Dying, and it's a flashback novel, like When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, which is most people's choice (including mine) for the best book in a series of excellent novels. So I'm greatly looking forward to it -- so much so that even a guy who gets books in the mail all the time was willing to not only pay money, but actually go out to a real old-fashioned store and pick it up with his own hands the week of publication. If you haven't read Block before, don't start with this one -- either go find Sacred Ginmill or just start at the beginning of the series, The Sins of the Fathers. If you have read Block before, this is your signal to get to your preferred bookseller ASAP for your own copy of Hard Stuff, just published in hardcover by Mullholland Books, the new mystery imprint of Little, Brown. (And my "mystery imprint," I mean "imprint that sells books which are mystery novels," and not "imprint whose output will be deeply mysterious" -- though the latter would be an interesting experiment for some publisher with deep pockets and the willingness to lose a lot of money.)
Haven by Joel Shepherd. It's the fourth book in the "A Trial of Blood & Steel" epic fantasy series -- no points for guessing the template for that series title -- which began with Sasha. I still haven't read this series -- even when you read a book every day for a year, the new books pile up much faster than you can get to them -- but I did meet Shepherd once at a Worldcon, and, on that basis, I can say that his books are entirely worth your time and energy. Haven, which seems to end this series, was published on May 3rd in trade paperback by Pyr.
Turning to science fiction, I also saw a new book from Robert Charles Wilson this week: Vortex. It's the third book in the series that began with the Hugo-winning Spin and continued in Axis; I've read the first (my review is here) but not the second. Vortex will be a hardcover from Tor in July.
And last for this week is an odd book called Japanese Fantasy Manga, credited to the "Tokyo-based editorial group" ricorico. It's not a guide to the many actually existing fantasy manga series, nor is it a writing/drawing guide to creating manga with a fantasy flavor. Instead, it's a catalog of character types, skills, and monsters that you might find in a fantasy manga, or perhaps that you might use to create a fantasy manga yourself. The introduction says that the book is "structured like a role playing game (RPG), the fantasy hero games that spread like wildfire across Japan and then throughout East Asia, and are now popular around the world,"  though it also doesn't provide any actual RPG rules or statistics for these elements, just text descriptions. In short, I have no idea who would want this book, or what value it would provide to them -- this may, of course, be purely a failure of my imagination and knowledge. It does have a lot of decent four-color art, with a full-page for each element and plenty of spot art as well. And it will be published, as an oversized trade paperback with those fancy French flaps, by Harper Design on May 24th.
 Gary Gygax, among many others, might take umbrage at this description.