Monday, June 16, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/14

The monthly box from Ace landed this week, so there's a lot of SFF to run though...and here it all is:

I have to lead off this week with Charles Stross's new novel, Saturn's Children, partly because it is Charlie's new book -- so I'm excited to read it -- and partly for that wonderfully appropriate/inappropriate sexy/sexist cover. The pneumatic figure on the cover is the heroine, an android "femmebot" programmed to satisfy human desires. Unfortunately, humanity died out a few hundred years before this novel opens, so she needs to find a new purpose in life. Saturn's Children will be published in hardcover by Ace on July 1st.

Also from Ace as a July hardcover is Stephen Baxter's Weaver, the fourth and final book in his "Time's Tapestry" series about alternate histories and manipulation. I haven't been reading this series, but I'm always impressed by how much Baxter publishes, and how intensely he runs through the permutations of his current concerns -- he's never been a writer to repeat himself, though his work runs, interestingly, in epicycles.

The Lost Fleet: Valiant by Jack Campbell is the fourth in a Military SF series -- which Amazon claims will be six books long, and I see no reason to doubt their authority. It will also be published by Ace, and should be available in your favorite bookstore (plus the one you hate) on 6/24.

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu is the first book in a contemporary fantasy series -- and I am still amazed at how that end of the field is still growing and proliferating, almost as if there were a vast female audience demanding more books like this...pardon me, I just have to surgically remove my tongue from my cheek. Iron Hunt is another book from Ace, which essentially invented the modern urban fantasy genre, and it will also be published on 6/24. This particular series is about a demon/demon hunter named Hunter Kiss whose tattoos come to life at night. She's the last hope of humanity, of course -- but aren't we all?

I have to admit to an unreasoning prejudice against books that turn the letter "i" into "y' for no good reason, so I cast a stink-eye at Yasmine Galenorn's Dragon Wytch when it arrived earlier this week. But an earlier book in the same series -- this is book four in another paranormal/supernatural contemporary fantasy/romance series -- spelled "Witch" correction, so I can accept this as just a temporary aberration. (And, besides, Galenorn's bio says that she's been "in the Craft for more than twenty-five years and is a shamanic witch," so she might turn me into a newt if I'm not careful.) This is another Ace book, coming the first of July.

The Cold Minds, by Kristin Landon, is the sequel to The Hidden Worlds, continuing a medium-future SF story about humanity hiding from (or maybe, this time, fighting) nasty AIs called the Cold Minds. I suspect there's also a romance subplot here, since it has quotes from Linnea Sinclair and the Romantic Times. This is also from Ace, and is coming June 24th.

Patrice Sarath's Gordath Wood is a debut novel, a contemporary fantasy that looks to borrow more from Mythago Wood than from Buffy, with a stable manager heroine who's riding a valuable horse through the title forest when something unexpected happens. This is from Ace on June 24th.

Dean Koontz's popular character Odd Thomas has been brought to comics by Ballantine with In Odd We Trust, an original graphic novel written by Queenie Chan and Koontz and illustrated by Chan. (I've seen Chan's name mentioned approvingly a lot in the original-English side of the manga world, but I don't think I've read any of her books yet.) Del Rey Manga will publish this in July.

Doubleday is very excited about The Gargoyle, a first novel from Andrew Davidson that they'll publish on August 5th. It's not quite clear whether it has any supernatural elements -- I'll probably have to read it myself to be sure -- but it's a love story that starts out in a burn ward and focused on two characters who may have known each other hundreds of years before. It also has glowing quotes from Peter Straub and Sara Gruen.

CMX Manga -- DC's imprint for non-American-originated titles -- sent me a few books in an early form this week. Unfortunately, the package came open along the way -- or perhaps my mail carriers have become manga fans and ripped it open to read themselves? -- so there was no cover letter when it reached me. The first of those CMX books is Sanae Kana's Classical Medley. DC/CMX will publish the first volume of this series in late October. From a quick look through the pages, it seems to be about a group of adventurers with musical names (Soprano, Alto, etc.) and aimed at a younger, probably female audience.

Also from CMX is the first volume of The Girl Who Runs Through Time, illustrated by Gaku Tsugno from an original story by Yasutaka Tsutsui. The pages I've looked at so far focus on an ordinary schoolgirl, but she does talk a lot about the smells of things, so there may be some A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu moments in here to explain the title. This one is rated for teens and will be published in late September.

The third and last book from CMX was Variante, which is a four-volume series rated "Mature." DC sent me the climactic fourth volume, which publishes in July, so let's see if I can make sense of it without the first three-fourths of the story. Variante is apparently about a girl being experimented on by a shadowy organization to create something with superpowers, and about a male agent trying to rescue her.

And last for me this week was Liz Williams's new novel The Shadow Pavilion, fourth in the Detective Inspector Chen series of supernatural mysteries set in a near-future Chinese-dominated Pacific Rim. I read the first book, Snake Agent (during my tour of duty in the World Fantasy salt mines, two years ago) and liked it quite a bit, but I've missed the last two books. I hope I'll have time to try this one.


Anonymous said...

Gawd, them's some 'orrible covers.


Anonymous said...

One question: Is it really "reviewing the mail" if you just say what the books are about and not whether they are any good?

I was sort of hoping to get your take on, say, SATURN'S CHILDREN. I already know what it's about.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Jeff: I dunno -- Shadow Pavilion is pretty good, and I don't mind Gargoyle. And I admire Saturn's Children, though I'll probably take the dust jacket off it if I read it in public.

I did line up Iron Hunt, Dragon Wytch and Gordath Wood the day they came in and make sarcastic comments to my wife about urban fantasy markers, though...

David: You've pretty much got it, "Reviewing the Mail" is a list of what came in. Some of it will get read, and, inevitably, some of it won't. I'm hoping Saturn's Children will be in the former category, but the piles are large and never-ceasing, so I've learned to stop promising.

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