Monday, January 26, 2009

Reviewing the Mail, Week of 1/24: SF & Fantasy

It's feast or famine around here -- after two weeks without a whole lot of review-aimed books, my mailbox exploded over the past few days. And so I'm dividing the weekly "Reviewing the Mail" post once again -- this one will cover the science fiction and fantasy, and another one, a little later in the morning, will list the comics and manga.

In case you're wondering: I review books (though I'm pretty far behind on that at the moment). Because of that, publishers send me books to review. And, since I know from my book-marketing day-job that any publicity is valuable and hard to get, I want to at least mention all of these books as they arrive, since I know I won't manage to read and review all of them.

So: this week I saw...

Carrie Vaughan has been very busy lately, and Grand Central is putting out her next two "Kitty" novels as back-to-back paperbacks in February and March: Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand and Kitty Raises Hell. I've liked this urban fantasy series since the beginning, particularly since Vaughn doesn't buy into the pandering "supernatural creatures as aristocrats" mindset that comes up so often in these kinds of fantasy novels. (I was the one who put together a 3-in-1 of the beginning of the series for the SFBC, and I reviewed last year's book, Kitty and the Silver Bullet, as well.) So these get my recommendation even before I read them.

From DAW in mass-market in February is the reprint of S.L. Farrell's A Magic of Twilight, first in the epic fantasy "Nessantico Cycle." The copyright page reveals that Farrell is also Stephen Leigh, which may be of interest to any old-time Leigh fans. From the back-cover copy, I suspect this secondary-world semi-medieval fantasy is ringing changes on Roman history -- the city of Nessantico is "capital of a vast empire and the main seat of the Concenzia Faith," with intrigue swirling around the thrones of both church and state.

Foxfire, third in the "Trickster's Game" trilogy by Barbara Campbell, is also coming in mass-market in February from DAW. It sounds like a meat-and-potatoes epic fantasy: six hundred pages long, with an exiled hero, nasty invaders, and kids with unexpectedly vast magical powers. And if anyone was waiting for the end of this story: here it is.

And another DAW February mass-market is this month's Tekno Books anthology-of-the-month, Crime Spells. This one is edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Loren L. Coleman, and the title tells you precisely what the theme is. (Which is just what a good theme-anthology-title should do.) There are sixteen original stories here, all pretty short, from people I've heard of like Mike Resnick and Jay Lake as well as from people I haven't like Peter Orullian and Ilsa J. Bick. (The latter category could easily be folks from the mystery side, or just newer fantasy short-story folks.)

Monster is the new novel by A. Lee Martinez, who has jumped to Orbit with this low-priced ($19.99) hardcover coming on May 11th. It looks like another of his humorous adventure novels, this one coming down on the fantasy side and set in the modern world. Monster is the main character -- he's a guy who runs a pest control agency for supernatural creatures. He meets supermarket worker Judy over Yeti infestation, and things get hairier (pardon the pun) from there.

Also from Orbit is Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift, coming in hardcover (also at $19.99 -- I smell a marketing strategy, and approve) on April 6th. Griffin, the back cover explains, is the open pseudonym of London-based YA writer Catherine Webb. Swift is a sorcerer who wakes up one day in his London apartment -- which would be completely normal, if he hadn't been murdered two years earlier.

Alexander Irvine -- author of excellent fantasy novels like A Scattering of Jades and The Narrows, which haven't gotten nearly enough attention -- is back with something different: Buyout, a near-future SF novel coming from Del Rey in trade paperback on March 31st. Maintaining jails for criminals has gotten just too expensive, so a new scheme has been enacted into law: criminals in jail for life sentences can be put to death in exchange for a cash buyout paid to their estates. Buyout follows a bureaucrat who organizes buyouts -- and I suspect that he's going to discover that things are not at all the way they're supposed to be. (Because, otherwise, the story of any government bureaucrat -- even one who organizes executions -- wouldn't be terribly exciting.)

Wings of Wrath is the middle book in C.S. Friedman's "Magister Trilogy," and will be published by DAW in hardcover on February 3rd. It's an epic fantasy series that I haven't been reading, about Magisters who rule through magic that drains other people's life-forces.

Lear's Daughters is an updated omnibus edition of Marjorie B. Kellogg's mid-'80s novels The Wave and the Flame and Reign of Fire, written with William B. Rossow. DAW will bring it out in hardcover on February 3rd. I believe a certain mail-order operation published an omnibus of those novels under an identical title some time back -- though that was, of course, well before my time. I've heard good things about these books, which are set on a environmentally collapsing late 21st century Earth and various extra-solar colony worlds. (Remember when nearly every SF novel assumed FTL leading to shirtsleeve colonies within our lifetimes?)

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