Monday, September 26, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/24

Q. How is this week like every other week?

A. Books have arrived in my mailbox, from publishing companies far and wide. (Though mostly headquartered in midtown Manhattan.)

Q. And what is the right and proper thing to do with those books?

A. Read them, of course. But, even before that, to describe and identify them, for the delight and edification of multitudes worldwide.

Q. Will you do that now?

A. I shall -- though first I must give the ritual weekly disclaimer: I haven't read any of these books yet, so there is always the possibility that some statements below may later become inoperative.

First up is Circle of Enemies, the third book in the contemporary fantasy series "Twenty Palaces" by Harry Connolly. I reviewed the previous book, Game of Cages, last year, and then named it one of by Top Twelve books of the year, so I'm really looking forward to this one. It's a mass-market paperback from Del Rey, just out this month, so I'm sure nearly all of you could easily make room in your book-buying budgets for it. (And I'd recommend that.)

Speaking of mass-market paperbacks, this is also the time of the month when DAW sends me their mass-markets for the coming month -- in this case, October, for those of you frantically trying to count on your fingers -- and so I should mention them as well:
  • Vamparazzi, the fourth book in Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, about a struggling actress in a world full of supernatural creatures. I used to have a copy of a previous book in the series, Doppelgangster, because I loved the title (and had really enjoyed a traditional fantasy trilogy, loosely based on the history of Sicily, that Resnick wrote for Tor about a decade ago -- the first book is In Legend Born), but I think that floated away in my recent flood. So maybe I'll read this one instead.
  • Magebane, a fat steampunky-looking novel by Lee Arthur Chane, an author I'm not familiar with. It's set in a small kingdom, cut off from the rest of the world, where magic still works, where a moustache-twisting villain is about to launch a coup and attempt to Take Over the World (Bwah-ha-ha!), when a young man arrives from the outside in an airship.
  • And then there's Intrigues, the middle book in Mercedes Lackey's "Collegium Chronicles," the latest trilogy set in her popular world of Valdemar. (And don't atttempt to read condescension into that particular sentence, since I had read almost all of the Valdemar books up to my departure from the SFBC, and enjoyed most of them quite a bit -- Lackey is a substantially better writer than she usually gets credit for, especially when she pushes herself.)
We've reached the point where everyone wants to create manga stories -- case in point, this week, is Laddertop, Vol. 1, the first in an expected series, written by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card (OSC's daughter), with an assist from the other daughter, Zina Card. The art comes from Philippine illustrator/children's book author Honoel A. Ibardolaza, who, in the typical way of manga written by a bigfoot author, gets an "Illustrated by" credit, as if this were a prose book entirely written by the Cards. The story is set in a near-future where enigmatic aliens have given humanity four beanstalk power stations -- and, in a twist both very OSCish and manga-netic, only children can fit through the maintenance corridors of these stations. (It's always sad to read about futures in which robotics and telepresence technology goes backwards so quickly.) Laddertop will be officially published tomorrow as a paperback by Tor/Seven Seas.

Ken MacLeod has a new novel in The Restoration Game, from Pyr but also officially publishing tomorrow in paperback. (And that reminds me that I read MacLeod's first half-dozen or so novels, but somehow missed most of what he's done this last decade.) Restoration Game is a near-future thriller that combines political intrigue in the former Soviet Union with online gaming -- and the back cover also promised "cutting-edge philosophical speculation," for looking for such things.

I'm very much not the audience for zombie novels, as I keep cheerfully mentioning, but I must be in the minority, because the damned things just keep coming. (Metaphoric echo intended.) This week's entry is David Moody's Autumn: Purification, the third book in a series in which 99% of the human race (including you and me, of course, but zombie-book readers never seem to mind that) has just died horribly and come back as brain-eating automatons. St. Martin's Press published Purification, in which things get even worse for a small band of survivors trapped in an underground base by an ever-increasing horde of the undead, in late August.

Sea monsters, on the other hand, are right up my alley, so Jonathan Case's debut graphic novel, Dear Creature, looks like a real kick. Somewhere in Beach-Blanket-Bingo days, a thoughtful monster named Grue lurks just offshore, torn between his urges to keep eating those tasty young teenagers (as his chorus of crab friends urges him to do) and his growing sense that there's more to life. What will he do? This one is coming from Tor on October 11th.

But we're back to zombies with Jack and Jill Went Up to Kill: A Book of Zombie Nursery Rhymes, the follow-up to the Xmas parody It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! by Michael P. Spradlin with illustrations by Jeff Weigel. I think the title completely explains the appeal of this slim book (coming from Harper on October 4th); it's the kind of thing that traditionally sells in an eye-catching display right next to the cash register, and I wonder how books like that are faring in the ever-more-online bookselling world of today.

Most of the stuff I get in the mail is closely related to the worlds of SF/Fantasy and comics/graphic novels, and that's fine -- but I do miss seeing other genres, and quirkier stuff, the way I did back at the clubs. So I'm thrilled every time something like I ♥ Kawaii shows up, just because it's different and interesting. This comes as a hardcover this week from Harper Design, "Selected by Charuca" (a character illustrator/designer from Barcelona) -- and it's a collection of art by nearly three dozen artists and collectives from around the world, all of whom are influenced strongly by the Japanese idea of super-cuteness, "kawaii."

William J. Birnes and Joel Martin, bestselling authors of books on psychic and paranormal topics including the recent The Haunting of America, focus on the last century of local history with The Haunting of Twentieth-Century America, including stories of mediums, UFOs, out-of-body experiences, and other uncanny events. The ex-Skeptical Inquirer reader in me leads me to note that Birnes and Martin seem to believe in all of this stuff, and so, presumably, their readership is equally open-minded to every possible bit of unlikely hooey. This was published by Forge (Tor's less-speculative twin) on September 13th in trade paperback.

Publicists are essentially optimistic people, which is why one of them sent me the third book in a trilogy that I've never previously seen. The book is James Dashner's The Death Cure, completing the YA dystopian (do I repeat myself?) "Maze Runner" series, and Delacorte will publish it on October 11th.

George Mann returns with the third book in his "Newbury & Hobbes" steampunk detective series, The Immorality Engine. (I still haven't read any of them, but maybe that will change soon.) This one is coming in October as a Tor hardcover.

And last for this week is Stan Lee's How to Write Comics, a big, heavily-illustrated book cowritten by Bob Greenberger published by Watson-Guptill in association with the comics company Dynamite Entertainment. As far as I can tell, none of the illustrations credit artists, but, then, this is a book about writing comics, so I suppose that's understandable. This one is hitting stores October 11th.

2 comments:

Trouble said...

Lee Arthur Chane is a pen name for Edward Willett.

RDaggle said...

"urban fantasy series, about a struggling actress in a world full of supernatural creatures."

Groucho Marx's advice to a struggling actress:'Stop struggling.'

(also re: zombie stories - a post on the Barnes and Noble site says the fad is rapidly slipping http://bit.ly/ojSrmx )

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