Monday, March 02, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/28

The books I write about here each week -- I do this every week, in case there's a random new reader this time out -- tend to fall in a few specific buckets: science fiction, fantasy, manga, some mainstream-y graphic novels (usually for young readers or at least not horribly inappropriate for them). But sometimes it broadens out a bit, which I prefer. Who wants to see or read the same things all the time, anyway?

(Looking at sales charts, the answer is "nearly everyone," but let that pass.)

So first up is a business book, a biography, and a graphic novel all in one: Steve Jobs: Insanely Great, by Jessie Hartland. Hartland is a cartoonist and illustrator who created one similar previous book, Bon Appetit, a biography of Julia Child. She's got a whimsical, loose drawing style, with lettering that switches from cursive to printed in between letters and a zingy energy in her drawings. And w all know who Steve Jobs is, and his basic story, right? From the title, I'm expecting this to be entirely positive, and not focus on the many negative sides of Jobs's life -- his neglect of family, his bull-headed refusal to actually get useful medical treatment for the disease that killed him, and his general lifelong I'm-right-and-you-all-are-wrong attitude -- but that's to be expected from a short bio. Insanely Great is coming from the new Random House imprint of Schwartz & Wade, as a hardcover July 21. But I do hope to review it more fully before then.

The Very Best of Kate Elliott is one of those books that explains itself fully in the title: it collects twelve stories (and four essays) by the popular fantasy novelist, one of them original and the others published in various places over the past twenty years. It's got a flashy Julie Dillon cover -- which an afterword explains illustrates a very specific passage in one of Elliott's recent books -- and is available right now as a trade paperback from Tachyon.

And last for this week is a rarity: an actual issue of a comic book. I know they used to go out in great waves to the comics press, in those halcyon days of the '90s, but I wasn't on publicity lists then, and I'm pretty sure I've never been sent a single issue before. The book is Suiciders #1, written and drawn by Lee Bermejo, and it came out last week from DC's Vertigo imprint. The story is yet another post-collapse future, set a generation after everything went to hell, in New Angeles, where of course gladiatorial combat -- to the death, I assume, with fancy technological killing devices -- has come back into fashion, because it always does after the apocalypse. If you're looking for a dystopia with fewer spunky teen girls and more beefy boxing men, Suiciders should be right up your alley. (Note that the actual comic has a title and other text on it to explain what it is; for some bizarre reason, that version is not available online.)

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