Monday, February 04, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/2

I usually try to have a quirky opening for this weekly post, mostly to keep myself amused, but this week, I'll just be straightforward for once: these are all books that showed up on my doorstep, sent by publishers, with the plan that I will read and review them here. I probably won't get to all of them -- there are 9 books, all novel-length fiction, this week, and even at my best I can't read that many books in a week. But I can tell you about these books, even without having read them, and maybe something here will look amazingly wonderful to you:

First up is a fake-nonfiction book -- and I have to admit that I have a huge soft spot for fiction that cleverly pretends to be something else -- the pseudo-memoir A Natural History of Dragons, written in-world by Lady Trent, her world's preeminent dragon naturalist, and in our world by Marie Brennan, author of a bunch of fantasy novels I've heard of but not yet read. Obviously, it's the story of Lady Trent's discovery of dragons -- in her cod-Victorian world -- and it has a bunch of Todd Lockwood illustrations as well. I suspect it won't be as quirky and odd as my favorite book in this subgenre, Pamela Whatron Blanpied's Dragons: The Modern Infestation, but if Natural History is half as engaging and fun as that cover, it will be well worth reading. Tor is publishing this in hardcover on February 5th.

I also have here DAW's three mass-market paperbacks for March (though it seems like I just saw their books for February -- is time passing more quickly all of a sudden?), and those are:

Seanan McGuire returns to her InCryptid series (after Discount Armageddon) with Midnight Blue-Light Special, and I'm happy to see that at least one of the monster-fighters on the front cover is somewhat sensibly dressed this time. (The first book had a very distinctive hotsy-cheerleader-on-a-rooftop cover that may perhaps have not been 100% serious.)

C.J. Cherryh's "Foreigner" series returns with the paperback of Intruder, the thirteenth book (and thus the beginning of the fifth trilogy). This series was really compelling for a long time, though I lost track of it after my fall from grace a few years back -- as far as I know it's still as compelling.

And the third DAW paperback this month is an omnibus of Mickey Zucker Reichert's The Books of Barakhai series, bringing together Barakhai's Beasts and Lost Dragons, which were originally separate novels.

British horror writer Adam Nevill has a big new novel, Last Days, about a modern "guerrilla documentary maker" working on a project about a '70s cult, the Temple of the Last Days, that met an violent end thirty years before -- but this is not the cult you're thinking of, since this one had a female head and its death site was in the Arizona desert. And, of course, the new investigations was something up, leading to new horrors. Last Days is a trade paperback from St. Martin's Griffin imprint, hitting stores February 26th.

John Joseph Adams, the premier anthologist of his generation, is back with a new original assemblage, The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, featuring 22 new stories from Jeffrey Ford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Laird Barron, Naomi Novik, Carrie Vaughn, Harry Turtledove, Alan Dean Foster, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Austin Grossman, and plenty more. The title explains it perfectly: these are all stories of mad science and the perpetrators thereof, tales of evil geniuses and plans to SHOW THEM ALL!!!! And you can get them all as a Tor trade paperback on February 19th.

Paul Cornell, best known as a writer of television and particularly for his work on the Doctor Who revival, launches a contemporary dark fantasy series with his third novel, London Falling. In it, four ordinary London policemen accidentally develop the Sight during a murder case, and can see true monsters haunting their streets. And, of course, they can't just leave them be, can they? London Falling is a Tor hardcover, coming in April.

Melanie Rawn continues the epic fantasy series that started in Touchstone with Elsewhens. I believe this is a lower-key alternate-world fantasy than usual, focusing on a traveling theatrical troupe (with magic, of course) and not saving the world at all. Elsewhens is a Tor hardcover, coming February 19th.

And last for this week is The Arena Man, fourth in the fantasy-adventure series by legendary comics writer Steve Englehart. The title character -- of all books so far in the series; they're all The {Foo} Man -- is a Timeless alchemist and Nam vet, dedicated to battling the near-ubiquitous conspiracy that rules politics and the media and nearly controls the world. Arena Man is also a Tor hardcover hitting stores February 19th.

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