Monday, August 01, 2016
(As always, these books showed up on my suburban doorstep over the past seven days, unexpectedly, and I haven't read them yet. I'll tell you what I can figure out about them from a cursory examination, a puckish sense of humor, and a general desire to see people read lots of books they like.)
First up is Eterna and Omega, because how could I not, with that title? It's the new novel from Leanna Renee Hieber, and a sequel to her earlier The Eterna Files, coming as a Tor hardcover on August 9. Hieber is one of the major lights of "gaslamp fantasy" -- which I believe is distinguished from the slightly more established steampunk fantasy by being more based in the real world of the time...if you ignore the fantasy bit of the name -- and this is set in the world of all of her fiction to date. The secret magical agency of the US (Eterna) and the secret magical agency of the UK (Omega) have been manipulated to each think the other is trying to destroy it, by the usual shadowy evil mastermind, in the year 1882. So expect a superhero-comic style meet-and-fight, and then a team-up to battle the real villain, whoever that turns out to be. (This is a little early to be Edison, though he turns up a lot in Victorian historicals, and everybody seems to hate him because Tesla is wicked kewl.) Anyway -- warring magical secret agencies + evil geniuses in the shadows sounds like a good mix to me.
The Irregular at Magic High School: Enrollment Arc II: Vol. 2 (I think those dueling number 2s are saying the same thing) is a light novel from Tsutomu Sato, with illustrations by Kana Ishida, and the fine folks at Yen Press will be happy to sell it to you as soon as you can scrape up the shekels. It continues the story of Tatsuya Shiba, unlucky enough to be enrolled at the same high-powered school for magical types as his overachieving sister, when he just wants to scrape by with his low-level power and have an ordinary life. I trust I'm not giving any spoilers if I say that he doesn't get his wish.
And I also have The Sword of Midras, which I believe begins a new epic fantasy series. (The cover calls it "A Shroud of the Avatar Novel," but doesn't tell us about any other such novels, and implies it's the first book this writing team has done together.) It's from long-time fantasist Tracy Hickman (you might remember him from DragonLance, if you have a long memory, or from any of a dozen other things over the past thirty years) and Richard Garriott,  who seem to be a first-time novelist here out of the fields of video games. (No judgements there; some of the best dialogue I've seen in the past few years has been in games, and world-building is a major part of that skill-set as well.) By the way, the book itself doesn't exactly tell you what Shroud of the Avatar is, but I will: it's an upcoming/early-access online RPG with both single-player and MMO elements, and which seems to be at least partially crowdfunded. One of the developers is also "Lord British," which should mean something to the same people who remember DragonLance -- that is, those of them who are as old as me (and, also, dirt). The novel itself is about a guy who finds a magic sword only he can wield, and decides to make the world a better place, one chopped head at a time. (I may be simplifying immensely.)
 Whose bio on the back-flap describes him as, among other things, a "private astronaut." I personally translate that to "made a pile of money in some IPO or another, and is spending a significant fraction of that pile to get into space personally at some point," but your, and his, definition might slightly differ.