Monday, January 30, 2017

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/28

Another week, another list of books from me: if you do something regularly enough, it becomes an obligation. This time out I have another bunch of manga and related stuff from the honorable folks at Yen Press, but first, I have a couple of hardcover SFF books to throw at you. (Not literally; please stop flinching.)

Norman Spinrad is back with a new novel, The People's Police, which I think is fantasy based on one ambiguous phrase. It's set in New Orleans, more or less now, in what may be a slightly alternate world if the flap copy has neglected to mention what in it is alternate. A cop spearheads a police strike when he's told to evict himself, a brothel owner is also being foreclosed on, and there's a voodoo queen who also is doing something (though not, as far as the copy says, losing her dwelling). Apparently the cop asks ordinary people to rise up against "fat cats" and "insiders" and "corrupt politicians," which as we've just seen always works out really well. The focus on post-Katrina and foreclosures gives it a quaint 2008 flavor, for those who want to forget this decade actually happened. The People's Police is a Tor hardcover, coming on February 7.

Also coming from Tor in hardcover (a week later, on February 14) is Jacqueline Carey's new novel, Miranda and Caliban. If you don't instantly recognize it as a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, I think this is not a book for you. Since it's Carey, I suspect Mir and Cal have a lot of kinky sex, but perhaps I'm typecasting her.

And now we hit the stack of books from Yen -- the rest of today's post will be all-Yen, all-the-time. These are either available right this second or will be available imminently.

Aoharu X Machinegun, Vol. 3 confuses me in several ways. The "X" in the title always looks like a graphic element rather than an actual letter -- because it is not actually a letter. And the creator is credited as "NAOE" in stenciled block caps, as if he/she/it is some NGO delivering supplies to a beleaguered group of refugees. I believe this series is about some kind of shooting competition, and I suspect it isn't about shooting each other...but I wouldn't swear to that.

A series that is about a competition in which the competitors are forced to murder each other returns in Junya Inoue's BTOOOM!, Vol. 16, the loudest title in manga. In this volume, there's only one day to the end of the competition, but it's not clear if the many losers will get to go free, or stay trapped on the island, or just be killed in the last frenzy, because that's how stories like this work. If you want to see teenagers forced to kill each other with exotic explosives, this is probably your only choice.

Dimension W, Vol. 5 continues some kind of SFnal story -- I think there are sapient robot helpers for everyone, and possibly some kind of detective. Since this is manga, I'm vaguely remembering there's a supernatural element as well, but I could easily be confused.

Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World, Vol. 2 is, I think, a harem manga about the usual "ordinary guy" transported to a fantasy world, where he and the usual gorgeous girls have to save the world. This may also be more like a game than an actual real world, from the phrasing on the back cover. It also seems to be adapted from a light novel -- art is by Masahito Watari, the original story is by Natsume Akatsuki, and character designs were by Kurone Mishima.

The never-ending and ever-proliferating group of stories about magical girls continues with Puella Magi: Oriko Magica: Sadness Prayer, Vol. 2, which was written by Magica Quartet (the brain trust for this entire universe) and drawn by Mura Kuroe. I have no idea what a "sadness prayer" is, or why I should care.

This next one, I think, is adapted from an animated TV show -- I could have that backwards, but I don't think so -- and it's called Rose Guns Days, Season 2, Vol. 2. Story is by the post-human entity called Ryukishi07 by mere humans, and the art comes from Nana Natsunishi, who has not yet transcended physical form. What's the story about? Gang conflict in a free city! (Note: this is probably entirely wrong, but it's my best guess.)

Next up is Smokin' Parade, Vol. 1, from Jinsei Kataaoka and Kazuma Kondou. Good news! our hero Youkou is finally seeing his handicapped kid sister get a new set of cybernetic legs to allow her to walk and live a normal life! Bad news! Those legs also turn many wearers into murderous psychopaths! (See what happens when you stop regulating medical devices? This could be the USA in a few years!) So Youkou does the only thing he can: join a secret group of mercenaries to battle the company that provides the prostheses! Because, apparently, lawsuits and media and government and just plain taking off prosthetics are things that don't work.

Today's Cerberus, Vol. 2 comes from Ato Sakurai, and is yet another ordinary-guy-gets-hot-but-crazy-supernatural-girl-for-bizarre-reasons-and-is-stuck-with-her-embarrassing-weirdness story. This time, she's a "dog" who "bit" him when he was young and ate or took or destroyed part of his soul, so now she's his Rover or something. And, because nothing happens only once, there's a girl in school who has a "cat." Wacky hijinks are guaranteed to ensue!

Next up: Trinity Seven, Vol. 8,  written by Kenji Saito and drawn by Akinari Nao. As far as I can tell, the heroes are trying to defeat a Demon Lord, which doesn't differentiate it hugely from a million other stories.

Turning to the land of the light novel, here's A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 10, showing exactly where in a series the creators stop bothering to make up new subtitles. (That creator is Kazuma Kamachi, aided by illustrator Kiyotaka Haimura.) This is yet another kids-in-magic-school story, and it's festival time! Apparently it's still festival time from the last book, implying this is a pretty slow-moving story. Set your expectations accordingly.

I really do not want to meet anyone in my life who looks at the cover of Corpse Party: Blood Covered, Vol. 4 and thinks, "Yes! This is exactly the kind of book I want to read." But it does take all kinds to make up a world, so this manga by Makoto Kedouin and Toshimi Shinomiya exists. It's about kids trapped in a cursed elementary school and being slowly murdered by supernatural forces -- fun!

Kei Sanbe's Erased, Vol. 1 is in hardcover, which I presume means it's more important/impressive than the other books. It's about a would-be manga artist -- write what you know! -- who's stuck in a dead-end job delivering pizza and who also keeps reliving moments of his own life until he manages to stop an impending disaster.

This week's winner of the overly-complicated title derby is....Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria 2. It's by Fujino Omori, and is a light novel sidebar story to the regular light-novel series about picking up girls in dungeons. This side story seems to be about several of the girls, though isn't clear on whether they have been picked up or are still available.

And last is Psycome, Vol. 3 by Mizumi Mizushiro and illustrated by Namanie, a light novel about love in a penitentiary for the juvenile criminally insane! Oh, and it's wacky!

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