Monday, November 10, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/8

This is a place-holder post; I'm still in Florida, so I have no idea what's in my mailbox. I'll update this post with an actual list soon after I get back -- if I'm lucky, and the pile is short, it might be for Tuesday morning, but later in the week is a better bet.

But I'm sure there were books in my mail, so they'll be here...soon.

Update: And here they are, at the end of the working week instead of the beginning --

It's usually a bad sign when a SFF author starts writing books to fill up the chinks and holes left by his previous books -- think of Asimov, or some aspects of late Heinlein. (Though late Heinlein, of course, had other issues as well.) So the look I'm throwing in the direction of Ender in Exile, which is now, by internal chronology, the second of the main sequence of Orson Scott Card's "Ender" books (there's also a subsidiary sequence -- another not-entirely-positive sign), has something of the gimlet to it. But Card does have a three thousand year gap he can slot books into, which leave him room for an awful lot of "Ender wandering around" novels, if we wants to write them. (I think so, at least -- as I've admitted before, to my shame I've never read any of the Ender books.) Ender in Exile will be published in hardcover at the beginning of December by Tor, and I expect a lot of people -- people who actually have read the series -- are much more excited about it than I am.

Dark Nights, Dark Dreams is part of the "Sisterhood of the Sight" series by Savannah Russe -- from internal evidence, it might actually be the first of that series, but I have to say that I'm not deeply informed on Russe's work. It's on the romance side of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy spectrum -- for whatever that means this week -- and is about one of four psychic women who solve really unpleasant, nasty crimes. (And I bet that means that this series will have four books, one for each woman -- that's one of the signs that a book comes down on the romance side: a couple's story is done when they get their Happily Ever After at the end of their book.) Dark Nights comes from the Penguin imprint Signet Eclipse -- which I hadn't previously noticed -- and will be in stores at the beginning of December.

Deborah Chester -- or her editors at Ace -- know that readers often are distracted, so they're making it easy: her series "The Pearls and the Crown" is made up of two novels. I haven't seen The Pearls, which is being published on November 25th, but I did just see book two, The Crown, which is being published on...November 25th. (See? I told you they were making it easy for readers.) I expect all of the people who whine on the Internet about unfinished series and their contractual rights to run out on November 25th and buy both of these books, to support this experiment and show that they'd like to see more of it. The rest of you might find it worth reading, as well.

New Tricks is the second in an urban fantasy series about a magical dog -- and other stuff, I'm sure, but it's more fun to lead with the dog -- by John Levitt, after Dog Days. It's coming from Ace as a November mass market paperback.

Also from Ace, but in the sometimes-controversial trade paperback format, is the new anthology Unusual Suspects, which gathers a dozen fantasy/mystery hybrid stories. It's edited by Dana Stabenow, who contributes a story of her own, and also features the work of Sharon Shinn, Simon R. Green, Carole Nelson Douglas, Michael A. Stackpole, and -- the big draw -- bestseller Charlaine Harris. It's a semi-sequel to Powers of Detection -- as much as any anthology can be a "sequel" to another one -- and it'll be on shelves in early December.

The more manga I see, the more difficult they make my life. For example, Gankutsuou 1: The Count of Monte Cristo provides both many opportunities to mis-spell the title, and a weird list of credits to bewilder me: Manga by Mahiro Maeda, Scenario by Yura Ariwara, Planning by Mahiro Maeda and GONZO. Surely it isn't the Muppet Show Gonzo? And what does "Planning" entail for a manga? I frankly admit that this item puzzles me, and the fact that the first phrase of the back cover copy is "While vacationing on the moon" only adds to the mystery and wonder. I'll have to read this one, I guess. It's published by Del Rey Manga, and hit stores this week.

Aurora keeps trying to embarrass me by sending me yaoi books from the Deux line, but I am unembarrassable (on the Internet, at least). So I'll note that I saw FreshMen by Yuuya, about a freshman who faints into the arms of a sophomore during their school's entrance ceremony. (I went to Vassar, so the idea of "gay for college" is something I'm quite familiar -- a lot of people I knew seemed to go bisexual for the duration. Of course, that was the '80s.)

Lovers And Souls is another Aurora Deux yaoi title, this time by Kano Miyamoto. It's another college story, in which a straight boy agrees to first model nude for a photography student, and then sleep with him for pay. Now that I can't say I ever saw at Vassar.

And then there's Koreaki Kamuro's Hanky Panky, also from Aurora/Deux. It's yet another college story -- hey, does anyone else suspect that, in Japan, these were all originally set in high school and had to be translated older to avoid the vice laws? -- about a club owner/college student and the boy he -- well, we'll call it "loves," but I bet it's more physical than that.

Aurora also publishes books in which pretty, pretty young men have sex with women -- they're equal opportunity that way -- and one of the books from that "LuvLuv" line is Sounds Of Love, Vol. 1 by Rin Tanaka. He's an overbearing, arrogant genius pianist! She's his manager/lover! Their relationship is about to hit the rocks!

I know I've read James Blaylock short stories, but I can't remember if I've ever read one of his novels. (I know people have told me that I should, and I know I have one or more of them somewhere around here, and I know that I have every intention of reading a Blaylock novel someday, but...I'm just not sure if I ever have.) I now have another chance, since Ace is publishing Blaylock's new novel The Knights of the Cornerstone in December. It's another contemporary fantasy -- of the older, quieter strain, without so many werewolves and spunky heroines -- about a man who learns he has some connection to the Knights Templar.

I really liked Eric Nylund's Dry Water (which I think was his first novel, a Tim Powsers-y tale of myth in the Southwest), but I'd somewhat lost track of him since then, as he wrote some SF novels that I don't think found their audience, and then a few Halo novels. But he's back to contemporary fantasy with Mortal Coils, the first of what promises to be a big new series. Tor will publish it in February. (And I'm going to stop promising, or hoping, to read particular books -- since I've already got too many to get through -- but I would like to get back to Nylund one of these days.)

I'm still not sure what a "xxxHolic" is, not having read the manga series of that name. (Apparently, despite the name, it's not someone addicted to porn.) But the manga series -- by the CLAMP collective -- is very popular, and now a novel based on it, Nisioisin's xxxHOLiC: AnotherHOLiC has been translated into English and will be published by Del Rey as a hardcover in October. (Oops, October is now over, so that should be past tense.) Actually, this is a light novel, so it has fewer calories than a normal novel. (I don't know what the dividing line between light and heavy novel is, or if it's like beer and you can have a medium dark amber novel and a stout novel.)

Since my to-be-read shelves are so large, I get to be capricious with my reading tastes. Take, for example, the case of Jim Butcher. I'm very fond of his "Dresden Files" contemporary fantasy series. And he's said, several times, that he only wrote that because it's what was selling -- that what he really wants to do is direct write epic fantasy. And he got the chance to do epic fantasy with the "Codex Alrea" series, of which Princeps' Fury is the fifth. And the reviews for the Codex Alera books have been pretty good. Nope. I'm still avoiding it. It takes an awful lot to get me to pick up a series with a title like "Codex Alera," and I still haven't hit that point. Sorry, Jim: I prefer books whose descriptions don't include phrases like "the dreaded Vord" and "no choice but to fight shoulder to shoulder if they are to survive." But I'm weird, and a lot of people will be happy to know that Princeps' Fury is coming from Ace in hardcover this month.

Probably also because of those groaning shelves, I tend to pile up reasons to read any specific book until it finally overwhelms me. Let's take L.E. Modesitt's The Lord-Protector's Daughter as an example. I've only read one of Modesitt's books, over a decade ago, and I mostly liked it -- so I've been thinking I should read something else by him. And he was very entertaining over dinner at the World Fantasy Banquet last year -- not to mention being one of the few people whose mode of convention dress can outshine David Hartwell, who was also at the table. And this book was copy-edited by my ex-boss Ellen Asher, who told me that it's all about accounting in a secondary-world fantasy realm. (As you know, Bob, my day job heavily features accounting, so finding it in SFF amuses me to no end.) So this one is moiving up the pile by the second. Tor will publish it in November between two sturdy boards and behind a very nicely creepy Raymond Swanland cover.

I read Batton Lash's Supernatural Law comics series for a long time -- it's an entertaining blend of horror tropes and courtroom parody -- but I eventually drifted away when it seemed like the same stories were being told over and over. But it's been a while since I read any of those stories, so I was happy to see the second volume in a new series reprinting the whole run of the comic, The Soddyssey and Other Tales of Supernatural Law, Vol. 2. I think I probably read these stories when they appeared in the comic -- heck, I probably have the comics themselves in the longboxes back on the other side of the basement -- but that's no reason not to re-read them. The Soddyssey was published in October by Exhibit A Press.

And last this week is a picture book for kids: Blueberry Girl, which was written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. According to the publisher's letter, Gaiman originally wrote this as a poem for an unnamed friend when she was pregnant with a dughter, and has copied it out for other friends since. (Vess has apparently adapted the poem somewhat to make it work as a picture book.) What that story doesn't say, since Gaiman is never the type to name-drop, is that friend is Tori Amos. (Insert a Paul Harvey-esque "And now you know...the rest of the story" to taste here.) I think my boys are too old and too boyish for me to read this to them now, but that's OK; I like picture books myself. Blueberry Girl will be published by Harper in February, but remember to look for it with the picture books, not the YA novels and certainly not in any of those sections for grown-ups.

No comments:

Post a Comment