Monday, April 22, 2013

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/20

Considering this post has a "4/20" date in the title, I could do some really embarrassing pseudo-stoner intro here, but I'll rise above the temptation. Instead, I'll just leap right into the explanation: since I review books online (though I'm far behind right at the moment), publicists send me books to review, and I want to make sure I give all of those books at least some attention. (I'm grumpy and misanthropic and hate lots of things that you might like a lot.) These are the books that arrived over the past week, with as much detail as I can work up from a cursory websearch and a fervent wish that at least one of them will turn out to be a good that you, personally, will read and really enjoy.

I'll start out this week with the book I'm most thrilled to see: Necessary Evil, the third book in Ian Tregillis's "Milkweed Tryptych." (The first two are Bitter Seeds and The Coldest War -- links go to my reviews -- and if you enjoy Charles Stross's "Laundry Files" books or Tim Powers's Declare, you should check out Tregillis.) Necessary Evil is a Tor hardcover, hitting stores on April 30th, and it finishes up Tregillis's exceptionally dark and utterly compelling tale of a darker, colder WWII and the unearthly forces it unleashed.

I have somehow gotten onto the mailing list for the mighty Ace/Roc list -- I'm not sure what happened, but it's welcome, since I've been a fan of Ace since I was a wee lad in the early '80s -- and so I have their May mass-market paperbacks here to mention:

Steven Harper's The Havoc Machine (Roc) is the fourth in the "Clockwork Empire" series, which, as you may have guessed, is steampunk. (I remember back when "steampunk" meant two odd novels by K.W. Jeter and a scattering of minor Blaylock/Powers projects; I am now officially old.) This is somewhat of a reboot for the series with a new central character, but it's the same old high-tech (clockwork-style) 1860, a hundred years after a mysterious plague created millions of zombies and a few mad geniuses (briefly).

Also in the steampunk wheelhouse is A.A. Aguirre's Bronze Gods (Ace), which apparently launches the series "Apparatus Infernus," about two police investigators in a steamy city. (The prologue also seems to promise elves, of a kind.)

Generation V (Roc) is a slacker vampire novel by M.L. Brennan, about a guy named Fortitude (what you get for being born into an old vampire family, I guess) who lives the twenty-something life (useless degree, low-paying service job, and probably a lousy apartment in the outer boroughs of Wherever) until a a new, nasty vampire shows up in his territory, and he has to do something about it.

And The Mist-Torn Witches (Roc) begins a new series from Barb Hendee, co-author of the long-running Noble Dead series -- which these new books are connected to. The heroines are two sisters from a small village in what seems to be another cod-medieval world (full of warlords, castles, and swords), who must use their witchy powers to save themselves and their new home from a serial killer of young women.

Roc is also publishing Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg as a trade paperback on May 7th. Now, don't confuse this new book with Majipoor Chronicles, as I almost did -- Chronicles is the middle book of the loose original trilogy, beteen Lord Valentine's Castle and Valentine Pontifex, but Tales is a new collection, collecting seven stories published between 1998 and 2011. Silverberg seem to have retired from writing novels now -- and he's got ever right to, since he's already written about two dozen of the best the 20th century has to offer -- so it's wonderful to see a book of basically new material with his name on it.

And last for this week is a hardcover from Roc in May: S.M. Stirling's Shadows of Falling Night. It's the finale of his "Shadowspawn" contemporary fantasy trilogy, following A Taint in the Blood and The Council of Shadows. There's a secret shape-shifting, blood-drinking race that rules the world -- in this series, I mean, not any real-world conspiracy-theory stuff -- and our Stalwart Hero is a nearly fullblood member of that race who turned against his own kind for the love a good human woman and the cause of righteousness. This time out, I suppose, he finally fixes everything and saves the world for good (Or until Stirling gets another idea for a sequel.)

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