Monday, September 19, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/17

Publishing is starting back up for the fall, after its summer doldrums -- though, from the frenzied activities at my house, you'd never know summer doldrums existed, and others at other companies may feel similarly -- and so a few things made their way to my mailbox this past week. And so, as usual, I'll tell you what I can about them, from prior knowledge and a quick glance and a deep sense of disappointment in all human endeavor.

Down the Mysterly River is a young adult novel from Bill Willingham, most famous these days as the creator of the Fables comics series. (Though some of us old-timers persist in remembering him for his first big success, the early revisionist superhero team Elementals.) It's also, as far as I can see, his first professional foray into mostly unadorned prose [1] -- though the book is illustrated by Willingham's Fables collaborator, Mark Buckingham. Mysterly River is the story of a Boy Scout, Max "the Wolf," who  mysteriously finds himself in a strange landscape populated by talking animals beset by a relentless group of human hunters called the Blue Cutters. Since this is explicitly billed as a middle-grad book, I expect this will be less nasty to its characters than Willingham's work sometimes gets -- particularly since it's also described as a tribute to the Boy Scouts. Tor Starscape published it (in hardcover) on September 13th.

I saw (but did not read) the first book in Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith's alternate-historical "Vampire Empire" series, in which vampires have conquered most of the northern latitudes and driven free, civilized men down to the hot equatorial regions. The stories themselves are steampunky adventures, focused on a mysterious figure called the Greyfriar and the Princess who loves him, and the second book -- called The Rift Walker -- emerged from Pyr as a trade paperback on September 6th.

I may have already mentioned The Monster's Corner before -- it's an anthology of nineteen original stories, edited by Christopher Golden, all fantasies told from the point of view of the monster (which may be, but isn't necessarily, the same as the "villain") -- but, if I have, then I'll just mention it again. Among the contributors are Kevin J. Anderson, Sharyn McCrumb, Kelley Armstrong, Dana Stabenow, Heather Graham (presumably not the one you're thinking of), Tananarive Due, and Michael Marshall Smith. It's a trade paperback, coming September 27th from St. Martin's Press.

And last for this week is MetaMaus, an examination of art spiegelman's classic Maus graphic novel. It's central spine is a series of interviews spiegelman did with academic Hillary Chute, but there's also several sections created by spiegelman in comics form, plus lots of sketches, artwork, comics panels, photographs, interviews with other members of the spiegelman family, and other things. (On top of that, the book includes a DVD that includes the complete Maus, audio archives of spiegelman's interviews with his father, 300 notebook pages, thousands of drawings, and even more archival/historical material.) This isn't the edition of Maus that you'd want if you want to read it in print first, but, if you're interested in Maus on any deeper level, it's clearly a vast trove of data and interpretation. Metamaus is coming from Patheon on October 4th.

[1] See comments; this is Willingham's second novel, and I wouldn't want to bet that he doesn't have a pile of prose short fiction as well. Even worse, I knew that, and forgot it as I was typing.


Chris McClelland said...

Bill Willingham wrote a Fables prose novel call PETER AND MAX a couple of years ago and has contributed several short stories to anthologies.

Chris McClelland

Andrew Wheeler said...

Chris: I punted that one, I'm afraid -- I not only knew about Peter and Max, I even reviewed that book here. I think I was trying to say "first book for younger readers," got sidetracked, and rewrote myself badly.

Thanks for the correction.

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