Monday, February 20, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/18

It's another Monday holiday -- at least here in the States; any foreign visitors may well be at work right now, and cursing their luck not to be born in the self-proclaimed greatest nation on earth -- which means I still do this post on time, but I also assume that many people won't see it for another day.

Anyway, these are the books that arrived in my mailbox last week, sent by their publishers. I haven't read any of them yet, but here's what I can tell you about them:

Time Snatchers is the first novel by Richard Ungar -- he's written and painted picture books before, including the acclaimed "Rachel" series, but this is the first time he's done a book divided into chapters and without pictures -- and is aimed straight at the avid young adult audience for dystopian SF and fantasy. (I might pass it on to my younger son, who's been on a fantasy tear this year -- he's so far run through Narnia, Artemis Fowl, Incarceron and its sequel, and probably several things I can't remember, and is finishing up Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy right now.) I'm not sure how dystopian its future is -- it appears to be a China-dominated 2061, and I suspect our new inscrutable overlords have a heavy hand -- but our hero's situation is certainly dangerous: Caleb is a "time snatcher," one of a group of young teens "adopted" by the Faginesque Uncle and sent back on quick trips into the past to steal priceless objects. Time Snatchers will be published in hardcover by G.P. Putnam's Sons in March.

Thomas Dunne Books is much more optimistic than I am: they keep sending me David Moody's zombie novels even as I make childish faces at them and keep failing to read them. The latest is Autumn: Aftermath, fifth in a series in which 99% of the human race died three months ago, and immediately came back to feast on the flesh of the living, yadda yadda yadda. This one sees a conflict between two groups of survivors -- because if zombie stories are about anything, it's that humans are inescapably horrible and should be eaten -- and I would not bet on the possibility of a happy ending. It'll be published March 13th, for those of you who don't get enough depression and sadness from the news.

I read Gail Carriger's novel Soulless when it came out -- and mostly enjoyed it, though I groused ungraciously that I would have preferred if had been an entirely different book -- so I'm interested and surprised to see that it's now been turned into a graphic novel (or "manga," since this is from Yen Press and it's aimed at a younger and more female audience than buys American-style comics these days), also called Soulless. (I'm vastly more surprised to see that the art and adaptation is credited to "REM," without explanation, though I'm 99% sure Michael Stipe has not turned to drawing shojo steampunk at this point in his career.) See my review of the novel for more details of the plot; the graphic novel version will arrive in March.

Speaking of graphic novel adaptations of existing novels, I also have here Uglies: Shay's Story, which was written by Scott Westerfeld and Devin Grayson and then drawn by Steven Cummings. (The book credits Cummings as "Illustrations," perhaps to hide the fact that this is comics, but I will have none of that.) It is, of course, a sidestory to Westerfeld's popular "Uglies" series, set in a near-future dystopia where everyone gets surgery at age sixteen to make them perfectly "Pretty" (and if you believe that surgery only affects outward appearance, I have a long lesson in modern YA publishing to give you). Shay, the heroine of the graphic novel, is apparently the best friend of Tally, the heroine of the main sequence of novels, but it's not clear how much of Shay's Story is a retelling of Uglies from another point of view. This one is from Del Rey, and will be in stores on March 6th.

I mentioned Melanie Rawn's Touchstone -- first in a new theatrically-themed secondary-world fantasy series, coming from Tor in hardcover on the 28th of this month -- a few months back, when the bound galley reached my desk, and so now I'll mention it again, since I have a finished book in hand.

And last for this week is the new novel from Tobias S. Buckell, Arctic Rising. It's a near-future SF thriller set in a rapidly warming -- and now essentially ice-free -- Arctic Ocean, with both conventional nuclear weapons and a mysterious global-cooling terraforming "superweapon" in play, a shadowy cabal with dark aims, and the one airship pilot thrown into the middle of it all. Tor will publish Arctic Rising in hardcover on the 28th.

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