Monday, March 12, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/10

Int. Day: A man sits, hunched over a computer in a tastefully-appointed basement. Light streams in from small windows set high in thick walls, as if to telegraph "yes, this most assuredly is a basement." On the other side of the room, a boy laughs at YouTube videos for hours on end. Nearby, there is the sound of powerful machinery washing clothing. A stack of books teeters nearby, threatening to fall onto the man's head. He reaches over, picks up the top book, glances at it, and begins to type.

GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Vol. 2 is the second part of Toru Fujisawa's side-story sequel to his most popular creation, Great Teacher Onizuka. (I've seen, but not read, the first volume, and never read the original GTO series.) It's coming from Vertical any minute now.

He leans back, brow furrowed. "Will they understand?" he murmurs to himself. "Will they realize that these books just arrived from publishing companies, and that I don't know much about them?" But there's no time for that; the pile is wobbling. Another book is pulled down.

The Curse of the Masking Tape Mummy is the third book collecting Scott Meyer's Basic Instructions webcomic (which you really should be reading regularly, he said pointedly), containing over 135 strips, plus original full-color stuff in the back. It's published by the well-named publishing outfit Don't Eat Any Bugs Productions, and available through both bookstore channels (via NBN) and the comics direct market (via the Mighty Diamond), beginning in May, so start hoarding your shekels now.

The man briefly considers continuing the italic comments throughout the entire post. "Nah," he decides, "That would be much too self-indulgent."

Shadow and Betrayal reprints the first half of Daniel Abraham's acclaimed four-book Long Price Quartet -- for those you who are terminally dim, that means it has two books in it: A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter -- and is coming from Tor in trade paperback at the end of this month. Here, "acclaimed" means "a lot of people I trust love it, but it has not been as commercially successful as they hoped, and I have not read it myself, either."

And it's time once again for the monthly DAW mass-market paperbacks, this time for April:
  • Alien Diplomacy, the fifth in the humorous Men in Black-ish near-future SF series by Gini Koch, continues the story of a woman named Kitty Katt, her devastatingly gorgeous husband, and the hideous beasts they both battle.
  • The Shining City is the third book in Fiona Patton's "The Warriors of Estavia" series, which may end here, though I see no official word either way. (Though I should note here that we have always been at war with Estavia.)
  • The Helix War is an omnibus of Edward Willett's novels Marseguro and Terra Insegura, another one of those "happy faraway world of mildly post-humans is threatened by the nasty evil forces of corrupt 'ol Earth" stories.
You knew it had to come: A Game of Groans is a parody of a fantasy series that I shouldn't have to specify, credited to "George R.R. Washington," and pretending to be the first in "A Sonnet of Slush and Soot." (Mr. "Washington" is described as the author of many novels and as a TV/movie writer producer who lives in Chicago with a wife named Natalie. So I'm sure there are folks who could track him down from that, but it's definitely not Adam Roberts, for once.) Thomas Dunne Books is publishing this on the 27th, though I always wonder what the audience is for a parody like this -- is it fans of the original, who nevertheless want to see it skewered, or the people who hate the original so much that they want to spend more time with it?

And it would be appropriate to follow that up with an indication that it's not just unrelated people trying to jump on the GRRM bandwagon: A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Vol. 1 will be published by Bantam in hardcover on the 27th. It was adapted by Daniel Abraham -- a novelist in his own right (see above) as well as the adaptor for previous GRRM projects like Fevre Dream -- and illustrated by Tommy Patterson, and collects the first six issues of the comics series. (I'm not sure how much of the novel it adapts, but I'd expect at least one more volume, and probably 2-3.)

And here's a big pile of books coming from Yen Press next month:
  • Is This a Zombie?, Vol. 1 by Sacchi, adapted from the light novel series by Shinichi Kimura and using the character designs by Kobuichi and Muririn, has the most egregious panty shot I've ever seen in its opening pages -- it's really quite impressive in its blatantness. The story is about a typical teenage boy who is a reanimated zombie servant to a necromancer and then also steals the powers of a "magikewl" girl. And then he ends up living with a bunch of girls -- presumably including the former -- who, I imagine, are accidentally naked in front of him a lot.
  • The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan, Vol. 5, by Puyo, is one of the less-likely brand extensions I've seen in a while. The original Haruhi Suzumiya series of light novels by Nagaru Tanigawa spawned the usual huge media empire -- anime TV series, manga series, animated movie, audio drama, video game -- and then also spawned a jokey side series in both anime and manga of stories about the lead character Kyon's dreams. So this is the fifth volume of the furthest extension of a vast media empire -- it's Haruhi's Kamchatka. If any of that was news to you, this is not a book for you.
  • Spice & Wolf, Vol. 6 is another extension of a light novel series, but it's more direct -- the author of the novels, Isuna Hasekura, is writing these manga as well, working with the artist Keito Koume. (I reviewed the first volume at length two summers ago.) It's mercantile fantasy with a mostly-former wolf-goddess thrown into the mix.
  • Pandora Hearts, Vol. 9 continues Jun Mochizuki's series using some ideas and characters from Alice in Wonderland in very different ways -- I reviewed the first one a few years back, if you want some background.
  • Bamboo Blade, Vol. 12 is the latest installment in the school-based kendo-focused sports manga series by Masahiro Totsuka and Aguri Igarashi, though I wouldn't be surprised if there was a space princess or secret government esper group in the mix by now. (I never reviewed any of the volumes of this series, but I did cover the opening chapters when I looked at the early days of Yen Magazine, which serialized it.)
  • Bunny Drop, Vol. 5 is by Yumi Unita, and I've had no contact with it before this moment. It's about a forty-year-old man raising his late grandfather's love child, who is now a high-schooler. (The intro copy says "Now, ten years later..." which may be the springboard for the entire series, or just for this volume.) This one is a josei series -- with an audience of adult women and older teenagers -- so it'll be more sedate, and actually about the lives of its characters rather than their superpowers.
  • 13th Boy, Vol. 11 is the latest installment in SangEun Lee's manwha (like manga, only Korean) series about a teenage girl and the two boys in her life (and her talking cactus) -- I read and enjoyed the first volume some time back.
  • A Bride's Story, Vol. 3 is the rare hardcover manga, continuing Kaoru Mori's story of life on the 19th century Silk Road. From the description, I think each volume follows the story of a different young woman, and how she gets married, but I could be misinterpreting.

Kou Yaginuma's Twin Spica, Vol. 12 is another manga project, from a different publisher (Vertical). It's a near-future SF story about kids being trained as astronauts, but that's about all I know about it. This is the final volume -- completing the story as published in Japan -- so if any of you were waiting for that, this is the time.

A. Lee Martinez's new novel, the baroquely-titled Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain, comes from Orbit as a hardcover in March, and is another one of his zippy humorous novels with pop-culture flavoring. This time, the main character is the octopoid Neptunon ex-Warlord of Earth, struggling with what to do with this time now that he's accomplished everything he ever wanted.

Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Master finishes up his trilogy (begun with Shadow's Son) as a Pyr trade paperback -- it's hitting stores this week. I still have the first two on my you-really-should-read-these-sometime-soon shelf, and this one looks just as worthy.

Yves Menard's new novel is Chrysanthe, the story of a young woman under psychiatric treatment in a world much like our own who learns she really is the true heiress to a fantasy kingdom on another world. I expect this is somewhat more metafictional and postmodern than most takes on that theme -- Menard is the author of the knotty Book of Knights -- but it's likely to be worth the effort. It's a trade paperback from Tor, available now.

There's another collection of comics about the Simpsons -- from the Bongo comics continuing series -- from Harper Design, under the title Simpsons Comics Confidential. I don't think the title means anything much -- there's probably a Big Wheel O' Titles at the Bongo offices by now -- but there's around 120 pages of Simpsons comics here, for those looking for such things.

And last for this week is Elizabeth Bear's new novel Range of Ghosts, first in a secondary-world fantasy series with a somewhat Mongolian-Asian feel -- its hero and heroine are named Temur and Samarkar. It's coming from Tor in hardcover at the end of this month.


RobB said...


though I always wonder what the audience is for a parody like this -- is it fans of the original, who nevertheless want to see it skewered, or the people who hate the original so much that they want to spend more time with it?

I wonder the same thing. I don't consider myself the audience for these things so I just ignore them. Methinks there is such a thing as too clever.

James Davis Nicoll said...

It's a near-future SF story about kids being trained as astronauts

OK, this, there's a comic from Card and his kids, and Rocket Girls .... Any other examples of this kicking around in recent releases?

Paul D said...

The Daniel Abraham stuff is absolutely worth reading, particularly if you're a little tired of epic fantasy.

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