Monday, February 01, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/30

It's another week, and it brought mail: these are the books that various publishers sent, hoping that I would review them. I may yet do so, but this is not actually a review of those books; I haven't read any of them yet. But I can tell you something about them, from what I can tell from a quick glance and prior knowledge. And, without further ado...

Tom De Haven wrote a novel about Superman -- called, naturally, It's Superman! -- a few years back, and now he's returning to the Big Blue Boy Scout with a non-fictional look at what Superman means to American culture in Our Hero: Superman on Earth. It's part of the "Icons of America" series -- following books by Gore Vidal (on Washington, Adams, and Jefferson), Joseph Epstein (on Fred Astaire), Susan Jacoby (on Alger Hiss), and about a dozen others -- from Yale University Press. So it's somewhere in between an academic monograph for the MLA and a popular history, I guess. Yale is publishing Our Hero on March 2nd in hardcover.

The finale of David Louis Edelman's "Jump 225" trilogy, Geosynchron, is coming from Pyr as a trade paperback on February 9th. And here I have to admit that I still haven't gotten even to the first book in that series, Infoquake, despite having met Edelman several times and even having dinner with him back when my hat read "SF editor." (Speaking of hats, Edelman has been known to rock a particularly awesome hat, and his books should be given a second look if only for that.)

Michael Shea -- author of Nifft the Lean and A Quest for Simbilis and Color out of Time, among a whole bunch of other books -- is back with a new novel from Tor called The Extra. It's a Zeitgeist-y book, I guess -- though it has a premise straight out of a '50s Sheckley novel (and I mean that as a complement) -- with a near-future LA overrun by hyper-real movie productions in which extras are paid hugely well for epic battle scenes...but only if they manage to survive the entirely real carnage. (Which, of course, they hardly ever do.) So see it as the latest version of Sheckley's "The 7th Victim" or The Running Man or Battle Royale or Heroes Die -- a story of "reality TV" run amok and media violence unfettered. Shea's definitely good enough to ring new changes on the idea, and it's an area rife with dramatic possibilities, so I have hopes for this book. The Extras will be published in hardcover tomorrow.

And last for this week is the penultimate book in Steven Erikson's brick-wall of a fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen -- Dust of Dreams. It actually went on sale on January 19th, and is available in both trade paperback (for most of us) and hardcover (for those who insist of paying more, for whatever reason. I've gotten a book behind on this series -- and, since each book is the length of most authors' trilogies, that's further behind than it looks -- but I still have hopes of catching up with Toll the Hounds and then this book.

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