Monday, January 09, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/7

This is the first "Reviewing the Mail" post covering books received in 2012, which means precisely nothing to any of us -- including me. Publishing continues, pushing out packets of "content" (sometimes in print form, sometimes in digital; sometimes in the form of stories, real or imaginary, sometimes in the form of manuals or reference works or other kinds of useful information) every single week, and the change of a calendar page doesn't change much.

Anyway, these four were the books that showed up in my mailbox over the past week, sent by publicists and editors and authors and other folks who really want to see them succeed and find their natural loving audiences -- and what I try to do here, as much as possible, is present those books so that, if you're the person who would love them, you realize that. (On the other hand, sometimes I get into a puckish mood and just make fun of things, but I try to keep that to a minimum.) I haven't read any of these books yet, and it might be that I never read some or all of them -- but this is what I can tell you about them, right now:

Red Dot Irreal is, I think, the first collection of stories from Jason Erik Lundberg (who was one of the forces behind a neat book called A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, which I reviewed a few years back). The ten stories here have mostly appeared before -- but in various literary and other journals, mostly in or near Lundberg's home of Singapore, so it's not terribly likely that many readers will have read many of them. (Isn't it annoying when you get a short-story collection and have already read most of it? That shouldn't happen here.) Lundberg has a page for Red Dot Irreal on his website, with links to a wide array of purchase possibilities, including a very inexpensive, un-DRMed ebook edition, and samples of several stories. It was published by Math Paper Press a couple of months ago, and is available in electrons and dead-tree form pretty much world-wide -- though not, at this precise moment, from the world-spanning seller I usually link to here.

Ken Shufeldt's second novel Tribulations comes out from Tor this month in mass-market; I saw it as a galley a couple of months back and mumbled a bit about it then.

I've heard of the Black Butler manga series (by Yana Toboso) but not, as far as I can remember, read any of the books in it. So Volume VIII, in front of me now, is deeply confusing me -- the inside back cover talks about it as a sports drama about "the wild child, Sebastian," who competes in track-and-field activities against the world's best; the back cover has circus imagery and talks about Sebastian as the butler to a nobleman, and protecting a Manor from attack by a circus; and the first few pages have a bunch of young people fighting and killing each other for no reasons I can figure out. So: this is the middle volume of a manga age-banded for older teens, it comes out from Yen Press this month, and I would not recommend jumping in at this point.

And last for this week is Tom Knox's genetic thriller The Lost Goddess, a hardcover from Viking coming February 6th. It somehow links together European prehistoric skeletons, killed by arrows; horrifying genetic experiments in Russia; "mystical mutations" committed by Cambodia's fanatical Communist Khmer Rouge regime; a strange, demonic woman; and a mysterious fortress in Tibet. Knox previously wrote the novels The Genesis Secret and The Marks of Cain, which also seem to be semi-SFnal conspiracy thrillers.

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