Monday, August 08, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/6

It's the dog days of summer; the time when it's been hot for long enough that nobody feels like doing much of anything, when half the people you work with are out on vacation this week and the other half will be out next week, when even picking up a moderately heavy book can feel like too much effort, when all we want to do is sit somewhere (by a pool, by an air conditioner, by a glowing box of piped entertainment) and not think until we get tired of that as well.

So, if I don't show a whole lot of energy or enthusiasm for these really nice books that have arrived in my mail this week, please take the time of year into account, willya? They're all perfectly cromulent in their own ways, and I bet many of you would love many of them.

I'll lead off with something I've already written about once, to ease myself into it gently: Kitty's Greatest Hits, the first collection of Carrie Vaughn's short stories set in the world of werewolf radio host Kitty Norville. It collects twelve stories from various anthologies and other publications, adding in two brand-new stories, and Tor has just launched it in trade paperback. If there's still a bookstore near you getting new books in stock, you'll probably find it there.

Tom Pomplun's Eureka Productions has been adapting classic literature -- "classic" here meaning "excellent old stories," rather than "dull museum pieces that only professors like" -- for ten years and twenty previous volumes now, and they're celebrating in the appropriate way: publishing a brand-new collection, Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery, a twenty-first volume of "Graphic Classics" that looks back to the very first volume, Edgar Allan Poe. The new book adapts Poe's stories "Murder in the Rue Morgue" (with art by Reno Maniquis), "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," (art by Michael Manning), "The Masque of the Red Death" (art by Stan Shaw), and several more. Expect to see lots of red in the full-color art when this hits book stores, comic shops, and your favorite Internet seller this month.

Down to the Bone is the fifth novel in Justina Robson's near-future technomagical "Quantum Gravity" series, and I have to hang my head and admit I haven't read any of them. But they all have neat covers, and they sound like a hell of a lot of fun. If you, like me, haven't read any of them, I bet it would be better to start with the first one, Keeping It Real, but, if you're better than me and have been keeping up, you'll be happy to know that Pyr will have Down to the Bone out in stores tomorrow.

Speaking of series that I haven't been reading -- hey, it's a big field, and no one can read all of it (except maybe Don D'Ammassa) -- I also have Out of the Waters by David Drake, second in the "Books of the Elements" series set in a fantasy version of the first century Roman Empire. (The first one is The Legions of Fire, and, again, I suspect Book One is generally the best place to start. And Drake is really good at Roman stuff, so go ahead and check it out.) This one's from Tor, and came out last month in hardcover -- so it should already be everywhere you might want to find it.

Last for this week is a book from the fine old British publishing house of Hodder, which recently wrote to ask if they could send me books. (And how would anyone react to a question like that? "Can you send me free stuff? Oh, no thank you, I don't like getting free things." Of course not!) So I was really happy to see a package from them -- the one that contained Outpost, which appears to be the first novel by Adam Baker. It's an end-of-the-world story, focusing on the fifteen people living on a remote, semi-mothballed oil rig up in the Arctic circle when something horrible -- the copy mentions "a global pandemic" and "the deadly infection" -- happens to the rest of the world, and then they have to first survive and then make their way back south to find out what happened. (I have my suspicions, which mostly involve the z-word.) My British (and Commonwealth) readers could probably find Outpost very quickly and conveniently; readers in my part of the world might have to use a foreign online retailer (I recommend the ones located in Canada, since the shipping costs are lower) to get it.

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