Monday, May 07, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/5

This week Reviewing the Mail comes to you from Torquay's magnificent Stardust Ballroom, with a host of today's loveliest dancers and the sweetest-voiced crooners you ever could hope to hear. So join us, won't you, as we turn the clock back to that thrilling year of 1944....

Well, no, actually. But I do have a short stack of books that arrived last week to tell you about. I haven't read any of them, but that hasn't stopped me yet.

We lead off this week with the book that asks the musical question Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?, edited by Brian Cronin with contributions from his Comics Should Be Good cronies as well as well-known actual comics-industry professionals like Dave Gibbons, Geoff Johns, and Jeff Lemire. (The answer to that question, though, is that he doesn't; Batman carries Bat-Shark Repellent, because everything Batman carries must be branded.) It's a collection of essays, lists, and other short bits of what we Internet types like to call "content," all on the subject of "comic books" -- that is, primarily Silver Age American superheroes from the Big Two. If your definition of comics begins and ends there, you need to get this book, because you'll want to argue online about every single one of these pieces. If not, it still looks pretty entertaining. This Plume trade paperback hits stores at the end of this month.

It's time for DAW's June mass-market paperbacks -- clearly time is passing much too quickly, since it seems like I just saw their May paperbacks -- and those are:
  • Unnatural Issue, a reprint of the sixth book in Mercedes Lackey's Edwardian fantasy series "Elemental Masters." (I haven't read the last few of these, but the first couple, along with a similar just-prior book from Baen, were some of her best work -- the combination of rewriting fairy tales and having to work in the real world really played to Lackey's strengths.)
  • Disappearing Nightly, a reissue of the first book in Laura Resnick's "Esther Diamond" series, about a struggling actress who (as she must) keeps getting involved with supernatural danger
  • and Barbara Ashford's Spellcrossed, the sequel to Spellcast and continuing that contemporary fantasy series set in a summer stock theater company with a magical theater. (DAW is clearly cornering the market in contemporary fantasy centered on the dramatic arts this month.)
Amazon's 47North imprint -- devoted equally to publishing fine SFF and to bringing the established publishers of the world to their knees -- is so excited about Ania Ahlborn's debut horror novel Seed that they sent me two copies of it (separately) this week. This is the story of a man who has had some kind of demon within him for twenty years, which clearly won't stay bottled up at this point. It's also described as "in the spine-tingling tradition of Stephen King," because that's exactly what you say about new horror writers when you're excited about them. This will be available through Amazon -- and possibly other places that don't mind giving profits to their biggest and most rapacious competitor -- beginning in July.

Lori Handeland's Zombie Island is the sequel to her Shakespeare Undead, which I have not read and will not read. Adding zombies to the story of Vampire Shakespeare is the next natural step, I suppose, and if you simply must read this, St. Martin's Press will chuckle as they take your money for this trade paperback.

Some books simply say what they are, without fuss: one such is The Sword & Sorcery Anthology, edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman, coming from Weisman's Tachyon Publications in July. It covers the history of the field admirably, opening with Howard's "Tower of the Elephant" and including stories by the required writers (Moorcock, Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, Poul Anderson, Charles R. Saunders) and many others, including original stories by Michael Shea and Michael Swanwick. If you want to know what S&S is -- or just read more of it -- this is the book for you.

And last for this week is a graphic novel from Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker: The Battle of Blood and Ink, about a steampunky flying city and the spunky girl who publishes a one-page newspaper there. It's from Tor, publishing tomorrow, and all you folks who will buy anything with gears and goggles on it are now required to run right out to grab it.


Unknown said...

I believe that's Jacob Weisman, not Weinman, of Tachyon.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Unknown: You are very much correct, and once again I curse my typo-ridden fingers. I've corrected the post.

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