Monday, July 27, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/25

I need to be quick this week -- The Wife has just left to take Number Two Son to Boy Scout camp (this year he's a star, and has plans to get merit badges in Shotgun, Archery, and Kayaking, I assume as part of his latest nefarious plot to conquer the world [1]). Very soon, I will take Number One Son to do some weed-whacking at my mother-in-law's house, for what may just be last time before the place finally sells.

And this is a weekend, so I want to be wasting time and being lazy. So typing about books comes in far down the priority list.

But here are four books that arrived this week, annotated glibly by Yours Truly in ways that may not be entirely untrue. With luck, one of them will be your favorite book of 2015. And, if not: it's not my fault.

Many of you have already parts or all of John Scalzi's new novel-in-novellas, The End of All Things, which came out digitally as individual stories over the past month. The hardcover combined edition hits stores on August 11th, from Scalzi's longtime publisher Tor. This is the sixth novel (assuming you count it and its immediate predecessor, The Human Division, as novels and don't demand that "fix-up" be declared its own thing) in the series that began with Old Man's War and which has taken that as the series title. (I haven't gotten to Human Division yet, but I wrote about Zoe's Tale, The Last Colony, The Ghost Brigades, Old Man's War, and a general post about the universe post-Last.)

This next book has an interesting story behind it: Gary Whitta is a prominent and successful screenwriter (Book of Eli, one of the upcoming sidebar Star Wars movies), who decided to crowdfund his first novel. That novel is Abomination, and it's coming from the publishing company Inkshares -- which has a crowdsourcing focus itself, and only publishes books once its reader community given them a thumbs-up. (I'm not entirely sure how those two crowd models meshed in this particular case, but the result is entirely professional -- good book design, an excellent (if dark) cover, and even a publicity letter as focused as you'd see from a big New York house.) Abomination is a historical fantasy with horror aspects, set in medieval England, during King Alfred the Great's reign, where there may be one way to stop the marauding Vikings, but it's of the Slumbering Horrors That Should Not Be Awoken variety. The flap copy sounds more screenplay-ish -- he's the top knight in Alfred's Court! she's the tough scion of an elite knightly order! they'll fight until they fall in love! -- but it still looks intriguing. It's officially published on July 30th.

Melinda Snodgrass is the New Mexico-based, Wild Cards-originating, ex-Hollywood writer who isn't George R.R. Martin, and she's back with the third book in her current contemporary fantasy series, The Edge of Dawn. (It follows The Edge of Ruin and The Edge of Reason; I'd like to see this series run a long time just to find out how many nouns Snodgrass has stacked up in reserve.) Our series hero is a paladin, battling the cold and unsympathetic Old Ones, who I believe come from beyond space. Things are tough at this point in the cosmic struggle, and his best hope might be a new potential paladin he's met: unfortunately, she's a nine-year-old girl. Edge of Dawn is a Tor hardcover, available August 4.

Also from Tor's stable of New Mexico writers -- they keep well in the dry heat; I recommend storing all of your SFF authors out there -- is Victor Milan, who is back with the amusingly high-concept novel The Dinosaur Lords, set in a medieval world with the full panoply of Jurassic (I think) dinosaurs. So knights ride dinosaurs, and Brachiosauruses sometimes eat your crops, and so forth. Milan is telling what looks like a port-Martin multi-character viewpoint story in this world, full of backstabbing and war and betrayal and intrigue...and, of course, dinosaurs. [2] This one is available in hardcover as of tomorrow.

Turns out this wasn't that quick, after all. Oh well -- off to weed-whack.

[1] I am not actually joking here; my younger son has said from about the age of ten that he intends to conquer the world, supervillain-style. And I wouldn't put it past him.

[2] I do wonder if this book has enough sodomy in it, though. Perhaps Gardner Dozois would know.

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