Monday, June 29, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/27

This is a listing, with some comments, of books that arrived in La Casa Hornswoggler last week, primarily those mailed to me for review. I know I won't manage to review everything, so I do these lists to give a little attention to all of the books. And, as always, I appreciate comments from anyone who knows more about any of these books than I do.

And I'll start this week with a novel I probably should have read by now, but haven't -- Emma Bull's Bone Dance. It was originally published in early 1991, which means it got into the Science Fiction Book Club just a month or two before I did, and so I never read it professionally. It's subtitled -- at least in this new trade paperback edition from Orb -- "A Fantasy for Technophiles," and it was one of the earliest works to mix the then-just-bubbling-up rush of urban/contemporary fantasy with a neo-cyberpunky near-future. As the back cover notes, it was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, which is not peanuts. And this new edition will be officially available on July 7th.

On the other end of at least one spectrum from Bone Dance is my next book, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a novelization of the upcoming movie by Max Allan Collins. (To clarify: the movie isn't by Collins -- the writing credits alone list five people -- but the novel is.) As I've said before, I really don't know who buys the novels of big summer movies these days, since it'll be on BitTorrent in two hours and home video in two months. But somebody must be buying them, because here's another one. It's a mass-market paperback from Del Rey, and should be available wherever movie tie-in books are sold right about now.

I've also seen the first four issues of a self-published comic called Broken Lines by Tom Pappalardo, which is partly in comics panels and partly in stretches of illustrated prose. I won't try to characterize it further until I actually read it; this looks weird and completely idiosyncratic. These four issues are all currently available; the website for the series is here.

And then I have a few manga from Yen Press, coming in July and August:
  • Cat Paradise, Vol. 1 (July), by Yuji Iwahara, about a girl who has just arrived at a fancy private school to learn that she and her talking cat will be battling a nasty cat-demon as part of a generations-old curse. (For those of you playing Manga Bingo at home, be sure to mark the "private highschool," "ancient curse," "talking cat," and "spunky heroine" boxes.)
  • Tena on S-String, Vol. 1 (August) by Sesuna Mikabe, which is less likely to help your bingo card: a young music teacher was hit by a car, and comes out of his coma able to hear music everywhere and see notes surrounding people. So he's then accosted by "a haughty young girl decked out in frilly Gothic Lolita clothing," who demands that he serve her -- though she will, eventually explain the whole seeing-music thing. And I just bet that they go on to help various people with the troubles in their lives, as expressed in their musical accompaniment, like some odd Rock Band/A-Team mash-up.
  • Dystopia: Love at Last Sight (August) is that most unusual of manga: a stand-alone single story. This one is from Judith Park, who I believe is an ethnically Korean creator who lives in Germany and does comics in the Japanese style. This one has an awfully doom-laden title for a teenage love story -- the main character is a seventeen-year-old girl whose best friend is in love with her older brother. I expect there will be drama, but I'm not sure how it will add up to "Dystopia."
  • Cirque Du Freak, Vol. 2 (July) continues the adaptation of the first novel in the young-adult series by "Darren Shan" (the name of the main character). As with the first volume -- which I reviewed -- the story is credited to Shan and the art is by Takahiro Arai. And the subtitle of this volume, "The Vampire's Assistant," might give you a clue as to what young Master Shan is up to in this series.
  • One Thousand and One Nights, Vol. 8 (August) by Han SeungHee and Jeon JinSeok is...a series I've never read, and don't know much about. It has a vaguely Arabian Night feel and some manner of baroque love triangle in it; I know that much.
And then there's Wicked City: Black Guard, the first in a ten-volume supernatural horror series by Hideyuki Kikuchi, source of a classic anime movie and of an American remake currently in pre-production. (Kikuchi is also the creator behind Vampire Hunter D.) From a quick glance through, it looks like there's a lot of sex and violence in it -- and violent sex, and sexy violence, plus supernatural transformations and probably the inevitably naughty tentacles -- for those of you who like such things. It's coming from Tor/Seven Seas as a trade paperback in October.

I also have a neat-looking picture book here (you know, for kids!) called Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem. It was sent to me because the author, Mac Barnett, has connections to the McSweeney's empire, and they'd heard of me when I reviewed Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends (an absolutely gorgeous book, by the way, one well worth owning even if it didn't have a bunch of thoughtful essays inside it). But I'm also happy to see Billy Twitters because the art is by Adam Rex, writer-illustrator of the poetic picture book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and the young-readers novel The True Meaning of Smekday. And this book? Well, let me quote the flap copy -- "A blue whale is longer than thirty dogs lined up nose to tail. It's tongue weighs as much as four hundred cats. Blue whalkes make terrible, horrible pets. Just ask Billy Twitters." It was published this month by Hyperion, and it looks like a lot of fun.

In March, I saw the first two books of Mark Chadbourn's "Age of Misrule" trilogy -- World's End and Darkest Hour -- and now I've just seen the third book, Always Forever. All three have really snazzy John Picacio covers, and they've been attracting fans of contemporary dark fantasy in the UK for the last decade, so why should this side of the Atlantic be immune to their appeal? Always Forever will be published in trade paperback by Pyr on July 7th.

And last for this week is a blad -- remember blads? they're pre-publication book-shaped pamphlets, eight or sixteen pages long, with sample pages from an upcoming book -- of The Book of Genesis, as adapted and illustrated by R. Crumb. The actual book will be published in October as a hardcover by W.W. Norton, and I imagine you'll all hear a lot more about it then. But, in the meantime, a few of us publishing insiders have the cover and ten random story pages to look at, so you must grovel before us.

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