Monday, June 08, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 6/6

As I say every week: I list all of the books I get for review, because I know I won't manage to read all of them. Some, in fact, I have no real interest in reading, and that's perfectly fine, because -- starry-eyed wanna-be writers to the contrary -- no book is for every reader. But the corollary of that fact is that every book has its particular audience, and I like to help those books find that audience, even if that isn't me. So I try not to be as snarky as I could be, and to, as best I can from looking at a book that just arrived, figure out what's interesting or distinctive about it.

This week starts off with Warbreaker, the new book by Brandon Sanderson. I have to admit that I've never read Sanderson, so anything I can say will be secondhand. Warbreaker is a standalone epic fantasy from the guy who's completing Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, and I can't imagine a better recommendation in that field than the most popular writer of the last two decades thinks you're the guy to finish up his magnum opus. Warbreaker is also of traditional epic fantasy dimensions -- nearly 600 pages of medium-sized type, even as a 6" x 9" hardcover -- since that audience seem to prefer to buy their books by weight. There's also a quote from Michael Moorcock on the cover, as well as the "Sci Fi Essential" imprimatur from that TV channel that recently changed the spelling of its name. So a lot of people -- including a certain agent whom I know reads this blog -- think Sanderson is a really exciting storyteller in a very popular area, and my opinion (which is unformed and essentially nonexistent) unnecessary. Warbreaker is a Tor hardcover, officially publishing tomorrow.

Somewhat different is E.E. Knight's "Vampire Earth" series, which is a near future post-alien-invasion military SF series with a dark fantasy flavor -- the aliens, the Kurians, are immortals who feed on the life force of their slaves. Winter Duty is the ninth book in the series -- far enough in that the book itself hides the length of the series by avoiding a card page ("Other titles") and calling itself "A Novel of The Vampire Earth." Assuming that this stands alone -- and I have no idea, at this point, whether that is true -- that subterfuge is no more of a problem that it would be for a book in a long-running detective series. Anyway, this book is set in the winter of 2076, when series hero David Valentine and his battalion are in deep trouble in what used to be Kentucky. I probably won't read this -- I have a long-standing aversion to SFF books that murder me and/or my family for backstory -- but, for those of you less bothered by such things, it's available as a Roc hardcover on July 7th.

Back in the land of epic fantasy, I also have Kristen Britain's second novel First Rider's Call, which is the sequel to her first novel, Green Rider. It was originally published in 2003 -- and there's been a third novel in the series, The High King's Tomb, since then. It ran through hardcover and mass-market paperback, but is only hitting trade paper in July from DAW. (Though they probably should have taken off the reading line "The long-awaited sequel to Green Rider" from the cover, since it stopped being long-awaited about five years ago.)

One of L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s periodic SF novels, Haze, is coming this month -- he's amazingly prolific, but only gets out a SF book every other year or so, in between the two or three fantasy novels (in several series or standing alone) that appear every year. I read only one of his books, well over a decade ago, so I'm no good judge of his work, but he's been recommended by people I trust. This book is about one of those mysterious planets -- Haze, of course -- surrounded by millions of nanotech satellites and containing the secrets of a high, and very alien, technology. Haze is a Tor hardcover, and it should be in stores already.

And now for something completely different: The Passion of the Hausfrau is the illustrated -- actually, it's illuminated, more or less; with sidebar illustrations in a medieval manuscript-by-way-of-webcomics style -- story of the life of author Nicole Chaison, in particular that part of her life after she got married and had two children. Chaison is a writer who publishes a small 'zine called Hausfrau Muthah-zine, in which many of these stories originally appeared. (She's also the creator of that frightful thing, a one-person show -- hers had the same title as this book.) The Passion of the Hausfrau will be published by Villard in hardcover on June 16th, and I'm very much afraid that some unoriginal reviewer will soon thereafter call Chaison "the new Erma Bombeck."

Last this week is a book I got as a birthday present, so it wasn't for review at all. However it's here, it has a great title, and I might just read it soon, so I'll throw it out there: Installing Linux on a Dead Badger and Other Oddities by Lucy A, Snyder. It's a collection of short humorous stories, originally appearing on Strange Horizons and The Town Drunk and various other places. I expect I'll miss some of the more computer-specific jokes, but this looks very funny. A small press called Creative Guy Publishing brought it out in 2007.

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