Monday, July 14, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/12

I have nothing in particular to say this morning;, so I'll dive right into what came in for review this last week:

Jeff VanderMeer's new book from Prime is Secret Lives, which collects very short pieces he wrote for people who bought his more conventional collection Secret Life. Each story is the secret life, as imagined by VanderMeer, of the original recipient -- and, now, the rest of us can learn what kinds of secrets our friends and neighbors keep. It's available now, in a signed and numbered limited edition.

Me and the Devil Blues: The Unreal Life of Robert Johnson is a manga version of the life of the famous and mysterious bluesman. It's by Akira Hiramoto, and coming from Del Rey at the end of July. Given what twisted uses Frank Miller alone has made of Japanese culture, I have absolutely no objection to Japanese creators doing similar things with American or Western ideas. In fact, I'm looking forward to this one, and I'll probably be disappointed if it turns out to be based on scholarship or particularly reverent.

Also from Del Rey is the first in a more conventional manga series, Kasumi by Surt Lim and Hirofumi Sugimoto. As the back cover says, "Kaumi is a special girl -- and not just because she's a super-cute high schooler with a heart of gold. She has a major secret: she can turn invisible when she holds her breath." Since it goes on to talk about her crush on the student council president of her new private school, and her run-ins with a "mean girl extraordinaire," I suspect that the invisibility is used mostly for hiding, not for super-heroics. Kasumi will be in stores July 22nd.

Kujibiki Unbalance is also from Del Rey; it's written by Kio Shimoku and drawn by Koume Keito. It's also set in a high school, one where luck and chance rule everything. The hero, Chihiro, has had bad luck his entire life, but suddenly has been (randomly) chosen to be on the student council of this new, prestigious school -- and thus forced to regularly battle evil. Even more confusing that that, this series is supposedly the favorite manga of the characters of the manga series Genshiken -- and I saw references to the whole thing being based on an anime series, too. You'll have your chance to be as confused as I am on July 22nd, when Kujibiki Unbalance will be published.

And also also from Del Rey is the novel Zaregoto, book 1 of "The Kubikiri Cycle" by Nisioisin, who previously wrote tie-in novels for Death Note and xxxHOLiC. (It's over three hundred pages long, so I think this is too long to be a "light novel.") Zaregoto takes place on a tiny island in the Sea of Japan, where the exiled daughter of a powerful family has gathered "the best minds Japan has to offer." One of those minds is a young college student, Ii-chan, who has to solve a murder on the island. This one is also coming on July 22nd.

CMX is the publisher of the manga series Two Flowers for the Dragon, and they just sent me the second volume, which will be published August 6th. It's by Nari Kusakawa, and seems to be about a young woman who is also a dragon princess -- she's been kidnapped and is going to be married off to the highest bidder. But her two fiances are after her -- wait, two fiances? Oh, these manga will keep confusing me...

Also from CMX and also coming August 6th is the fifth volume of King of Cards by Makoto Tateno. If I had to guess, I'd say this is a shojo version of Yu-Gi-Oh -- it seems to be based on the Chaos trading card game and features a female lead character.

Interestingly, Patricia Briggs is setting aside her popular Mercy Thompson contemporary fantasy novels to start a new series set in the same world. Cry Wolf is the first of what the cover calls "An Alpha and Omega Novel" (claiming a bit much, I'd say, but no one asked me), and it's about a different werewolf in the modern world. Cry Wolf is from Ace, releasing July 29th.

Jeff Carlson's new novel is Plague War, the post-apocalyptic sequel to last year's apocalyptic Plague Year, in which a nanotech plague killed all warm-blooded life on Earth below 10,000 feet of altitude. (Have I mentioned recently that I greatly resent books that murder me and my family to make room for their "exciting" action scenes? It's not a good strategy to get me interested in reading your stuff, though perhaps it works better for the other five billion people Carlson killed off in the first book.) For those readers who like to pretend that they'd survive a holocaust, Plague War will be available July 29th.

Joe Haldeman's new novel is Marsbound, coming in hardcover from Ace on August 5th. It's by Joe, it's about Mars -- what more do you need to know? I'm hoping I can find time to read it, though I've got at least two others books just from Ace that I should read first.

And last this week is David Louis Edelman's second novel MultiReal, which reminds me that I still haven't read Infoquake. (There are too many books being published, honestly -- could the SFF field just take a break, for about six months, so we can all catch up? Thanks!) MultiReal is the middle book of the Jump 225 trilogy, and Edelman is an interesting guy who wears snazzy hats. If you're not reading piles of comics like I am these days, you'll probably get to this before I will -- and I'll resent you for that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cry Wolf is the first of what the cover calls "An Alpha and Omega Novel" (claiming a bit much, I'd say, but no one asked me),

Actually, the series is named after the novella that introduced the characters (published in On the Prowl) and refers to roles in a wolf pack (and isn't very appropriate for the series, since Charles isn't an alpha). CW is supposed to be readable even if you haven't read the novella, but I'll believe that when I see it; the novella itself ties up a plot thread from Moon Called.

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