Monday, September 02, 2013
There's no mail delivery today, but there was mail and packages last week, which left me the following interesting items. I might make fun of them here -- I'll try not to, but the spirit is week, and every piece of art has something that's easy to parody -- but that doesn't mean that they might not be your favorite book of the year. And, in any case, I haven't read any of these -- so please assume that any fact you don't like is just me getting it wrong.
I'll start off with two standalone manga volumes -- yes, they do exist! -- both from Vertical this month.
Tropic of The Sea is an older manga than we usually see; Satoshi Kon's story was originally serialized in Young Magazine in 1990. A small seaside town has a tradition -- their local shrine holds a "mermaid's egg," a large pearl-like ball, changing its sea water every week and returning it to the sea after sixty years of gestation, to get a new egg soon after. And, of course, old traditions that come in conflict with an energetic modern society -- this is Japan in 1990, remember, before the crash and the lost decade; a society on the crest of a wave that looked to make it the most powerful economy in the world -- are likely to get crushed by the forces of modernity.Caught in the middle is the family that runs the shrine: the old traditionalist grandfather, the middle-aged modern father, and the teenage son who must choose a direction.
Helter Skelter: Fashion Unfriendly was serialized from 1995 to 1996 and published in book from in 2003 -- delayed by the author's serious injury (according to Wikipedia, she was hit by a drunk driver while walking) and subsequent long recovery. Helter Skelter is a fashion manga -- drawn in a quick, impressionistic style like classic fashion illustration -- about a top model who underwent years of rigorous treatments and surgery to be perfect...and is now sliding down the other side of that height.
Switching gears, I have a bound galley of Jack Campell's upcoming space opera, The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield. (It's the second book in a spin-off from Campbell's Lost Fleet series, after Tarnished Knight -- looking at Campbell's list of previous books, he has so many lost things that he might want to invest in some of those little Bluetooth dongles and attach them to all of his fleets and stars.) The villains of this series seem to be evil spacefaring CEOs, which is a bit out of the ordinary for military SF -- that sub-genre is more likely to go the other way and focus on blowing up nasty alien collectivists. (There do also seem to be mysterious aliens lurking in the background of this series -- or sending huge battle fleets in to help with the endings of each book, more likely -- so those might end up being the evil collectivists that force the honor-bound space navy heroes and the rapacious space capitalists to work together to save each other. Perilous Shield is an Ace hardcover, and hits stores at the beginning of October.
The Lost Prince is the second in a contemporary fantasy series by Edward Lazellari, after Awakenings. It's a Tor hardcover that published on August 20, and, unlike the standard urban fantasy, it's not about a single main character. (Old habits die hard; I looked at the cover and was mentally composing a sentence along the lines of "XX is not just an NYPD cop, but also a paladin/werewolf/vampire/faerie/boggart/demon/angel/troll" -- but that's not what's going on here.) This series is actually a reverse portal fantasy: a group of protectors came through a gate from a fantasy world, Aandor, thirteen years ago, to protect an infant prince against the usual evil forces that wanted to kill him. But things went wrong, and the supposed protectors were scattered with no memories of their mission. So if any of you are looking for portal fantasies, derring-do, large casts, lost princes, and stakes involving the fates of multiple worlds, The Lost Prince is looking back at you, pointing at itself.
Last for this week is Stephen Hunt by Jack Cloudie -- I'm sorry, Jack Cloudie by Stephen Hunt. (I do hope there's an author out there named Jack Cloudie to complete the Nick Lowe/David Bowie echo.) This is the fifth novel in Hunt's loosely-linked steampunk world centered on the Kingdom of Jackals, in which a young not-British man is impressed into Somebody's Majesty's Steam-ship Navy, and travels to "Cassarabia," where a religious sect has been outlawed and a the true villains are "the sickness at the heart of the caliph's court: the mysterious cult that hides the deadly secret to the origins of the gas being used to float Cassarabia's new aerial navy?" I'm sure there's no parallels to any modern wars in this book, no sir. This also is a Tor hardcover, and is available now.