Monday, April 14, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/12

This week's pile is somewhat larger than the last few, so I'd better dive right into it.

Another pleasant surprise leads off this week: Penguin's Tarcher imprint has a new biography of Charles Fort, by stage magic designer and magical historian Jim Steinmeyer, under the easily-findable title Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural. I've read various little pieces about Fort's life before, but I've never seen the whole story -- so this is very welcome. (I see Steinmeyer is also the author of Hiding the Elephant, a book I've wanted to read for a long time, and might even have a copy of lying around somewhere.) Charles Fort publishes on May 1st. (And I've started reading it already, if that means anything to anyone.)

To tie in with the biography, Penguin is re-issuing his four great books as The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort with a Steinmeyer introduction. I think Fort's four amazingly skewed books have been unavailable for a while -- I read them in a library omnibus edition over a decade ago, since that's the only way I could find them -- so it's great to see them come back, especially with such an appropriately garish cover. Every book about the paranormal since the thirties -- whether credulous or skeptical -- derives directly from Fort, and very few of them have even come close to equalling his dry, witty tone and command of obscure data-points. If you've ever suspected that "we are property," this is the book for you. It will also be available from booksellers everywhere in May (and one of those booksellers, whose name I blush to mention, has a blanket 5% additional discount for all pre-orders).

Cory Doctorow's new novel is Little Brother, and it's aimed at a teenage audience for the first time in his career. It comes with a glowing Neil Gaiman quote, and a lot of strong pre-publication reviews. I have to admit that I haven't managed to read any of Doctorow's novels yet -- though I've seen a lot of his short non-fiction and stories -- so I'll probably have to remedy that this year. Tor's Starscape imprint publishes Little Brother in May.

My one manga this week is the first volume of Kaze No Hana by Ushio Mizta and Akiyoshi Ohta. The cover shows a cute teenage girl (with big eyes, of course) in a school uniform, and a sword peeks out from behind her on the back cover. Using only those facts, I suspect most of my readers can figure out what this book is about -- our heroine has some sort of mystical powers (or is in the possession of a sword that does) and she has to fight monsters. A quick glance at the back cover copy reveals that is substantially true -- and that she's also an orphan with amnesia! Yen Press is publishing Kaze no Hana, Vol. 1 in April, which means it's probably already in stores.

Ace/Roc sent me some of their new paperbacks this week, and on top of the stack is Talia Gryphon's Key to Conspiracy. It's the second in a contemporary paranormal fantasy, and boasts a Laurell Hamilton quote. (I don't remember Hamilton giving out quotes much, so that could be a big deal.) Our heroine is a Paramortal psychologist/ex-Marine Special Forces operative, and -- reading between the lines of the back-cover copy -- I suspect that she, too, has was is euphemistically called a "complicated love life." (Didn't I read that one Ace author had that written into her contract?) Key to Conspiracy is on sale April 29th from Ace.

From another subgenre comes Lisa Shearin's Armed & Magical, a humorous fantasy novel from the author of Magic Lost, Trouble Found. It's another Ace book, also coming April 29th. (And Ace has been very strong in humorous fantasy for a couple of decades now, so I expect this will be a lot of fun, if not terribly deep.

And then there's Sean Williams's Earth Ascendant, second (and last?) in his Astropolis series. It looks like far-future space opera, which is something Williams does well. This is yet another Ace book for April 29th.

Last from the Ace package is their trade paperback reprint of 2007's Wizards anthology, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. It contains a number of excellent stories by people like Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress, Garth Nix, Kage Baker, Tad Williams, and Peter S. Beagle -- it's pretty much an all-star cast. (Full disclosure: I liked it so much I bought it to offer at my old job at the club.) If the hardcover last year was too rich for your blood, perhaps this paperback -- coming May 6th -- will be better for your wallet.

The first of the "Year's Best" books that I've seen this year is Night Shade's The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Two, edited by Jonathan Strahan. It's a collection of last year's best stories, it's got a neat John Berkey cover, and it was published in March.

Also from Night Shade is John Joseph Adams's reprint anthology Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, which published in January.

Paolo Bacigalupi's first collection is Pump Six and Other Stories, and Night Shade published it in February. I see that I've read most of it as the stories appeared in "Year's Best" anthologies, but I'm still hoping to get to it soon. (Although that's in part to see if Bacigalupi's growing mundanista pessimism gets toxic in large doses -- the stories I've read are all excellent, but they all also very definitely have a grim outlook towards the future.)

And last this week is a novel that people have been telling me I should read for the past ten years -- Glen Cook's space opera The Dragon Never Sleeps. It, once again, was published by Night Shade, and it was available in February. So those of you who have been haunting the used-book outlets for fifty-dollar copies of the mass-market paperback from twenty years ago are now in luck.


Anonymous said...

(Didn't I read that one Ace author had that written into her contract?)

That was probably me talking about Patricia Briggs.

Bookseller Bill said...

There's a Dover omnibus of the Fort books still available (ISBN 0486230945); Damon Knight did the intro.

Karen Burnham said...

Good to know that there's another Fort fan in the community - thanks for the heads up on the new biography, I will certainly be looking for that.

Do you ever pick up "Fortean Times?" One of those magazines that I dip into just for fun on a fairly regular basis.

Brad Holden said...

Nightshade also reprinted Passage to Arms, for the two or three people scouring used book stores for that one.

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