Monday, February 08, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/6

Welcome to another week! Below is a somewhat annotated list of the books that I saw in the mail last week: some of them may eventually be reviewed in this space, and some of them may eventually be reviewed in another space (by me, I mean; I hope all of them will be reviewed somewhere by someone). But I haven't read any of them yet, so this is not to be construed as a review, no matter how much the title might make that reading the obvious one.

Or, to be more succinct: I didn't read any of these books, but here's what I can tell you without having read them:

We'll start off with Rob Thurman's new urban fantasy novel Roadkill, the latest in his Cal Leandros series, about a half-human PI and the agency he runs with his brother. (I can't precisely nail down what Cal's other half is, but it's clearly something supernatural, and I'm leaning towards the infernal.) In this one, a nemesis from Cal's past comes back with a job for him -- and, in books like this, you know that he won't blow off that job on page five and spend the rest of the book fishing (though, just once, I'd love to see a book like that). Roc will publish Roadkill in mass market in March.

I'm a firm believer in not blaming people for their names -- except in the rare cases where a person re-names herself something like Crescent Dragonwagon, and then the gloves come off -- but I do think one can look askance at the people who named them. And so I have to shake my head at least a little bit when I see that the name of the heroine of Seanan McGuire's new urban fantasy novel, A Local Habitation, is named "October Daye." (I managed to miss that name when I saw the first book in the series, Rosemary and Rue, from which you can easily deduce that I did not read that book.) I'm hoping that there's a good in-continuity reason for that cringe-inducing name. Ms. Daye is also a half-human, like Thurman's hero above, though her other half is fae, making her a changeling. A Local Habitation is another March mass-market, this time from DAW Books.

Also in March from DAW is the new original theme anthology Timeshares, edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. It's got nineteen new stories in its 305 pages -- implying that these are all pretty short stories -- and the theme is time-travel tourism. The stories come from Kevin J. Anderson, Robert E. Vardeman, Michael A. Stackpole, James M. Ward, Matthew P. Mayo, and even a few women (and some men who don't insist on the middle initial).

Amber Benson, whom I imagine the people reading this know best as an actress from that Buffy TV show, has a second novel in her urban fantasy series about Calliope Reaper-Jones, Cat's Claw. Calliope is the daughter of Death -- apparently his legitimate daughter, one-upping Terry Pratchett, who could only manage a granddaughter-by-adoption -- who has left the family business to pursue A Normal Life in New York City. I'm assuming that Normal Life eludes her, since it always does in fiction, and that her supernatural relatives cause trouble, because everyone's relatives do that, in or out of fiction. Cat's Claw will be published in mass-market paperback by Ace on February 23rd.

Another DAW March mass-market paperback is the reprint of S.L. Farrell's A Magic of Nightfall, the middle book of the Nessicanto Cycle trilogy. (I'm pretty sure someone once told me this was a trilogy; in any case, the third book is coming in hardcover in April.)

Anton Strout's third novel is Dead Matter, and it features his urban fantasy hero Simon Canderous just like the first two did. (I reviewed the first book, Dead to Me, when it was published about two years ago, with side disquisitions on the Ace Standard, a term I'm sad to see has not become part of the universal SFnal critical lexicon. But I shall soldier on.) Simon is still working for NYC's Department of Extraordinary Affairs, and, in Dead Matter, his partner/mentor needs his help desperately -- and we all know what a tough detective has to do when his partner needs him. (And, for those of you who are so benighted as not to know that; it's Everything.) Dead Matter will also hit booksellers, in the popular mass-market format, on February 23rd.

If you prefer your zombies with an X, I have great news for you: Walter Greatshell is back with a sequel to his Xombies: Apocalypse Blues, and there's a guy with a leather jacket and a big machete on the cover. (He also has what looks to be a $150 haircut, which I'd think would be even more difficult to maintain after the zombie apocalypse, but let that pass.) The new book is Xombies: Apocalypticon, and I haven't seen as totally awesome a title consisting of two entirely made-up words since a year ago last Tuesday. I tend to avoid novels that murder my family and friends, so this one -- which sees the entire US eastern seaboard overrun by a SFnal type of flesh-eaters in the very near future, to focus on a plucky band of xombie-fighters and their nuclear submarine, which presumably includes a top-flight hairdresser among its crew -- is not likely to rise to the top of my reading pile. But don't let my quibbles stop you; you can find Apocalypticon in bookstores in March as an Ace mass-market -- if you can remember how to spell it.

My single manga volume this week is Mika Kawamura's Panic X Panic, Vol. 1, coming from Del Rey Manga on February 23rd. It's a demon-fighting story, with a female central character -- that's her with the dinner-plate sized eyes on the cover, of course -- and a boy of the same age who infuriates her and will become the love interest around volume six or so, if I'm any judge of manga. The two of them discover that they have magical demon-battling powers at the beginning of this book, and then have to work together to defeat various supernatural threats. I guess I could have just said "Shojo Magical Girl, subplot 3," but where would be the fun in that?

And then we move back to urban fantasy with Thomas E. Sniegoski's Where Angels Fear to Tread, the third novel about fallen angel Remy Chandler, which is a March Roc trade paperback. I haven't read any of the books in this series, though I have liked Sniegoski's comics work -- enough that I don't even begrudge him a name that I always have trouble spelling. (Then again, people have been known to have trouble spelling my name, which I would think should be essentially impossible.) From the cover, I'm pretty sure this one features a swordfight between angels, which is hard to beat.

Switching gears somewhat, next is Jonathan Maberry's The Dragon Factory, which is a contemporary thriller incorporating some SFnal ideas (corrupt scientists making "transgenic monsters and genetically-enhanced mercenaries," plus the usual resurgent Nazis) into its headlong shoot-the-nasties plot. It's a sequel to Patient Zero, again focusing on Joe Ledger and his Department of Military Sciences team, as they race to save the world through superior firepower. Dragon Factory will be published in trade paperback by St. Martin's Press in March.

From Roc's sister imprint Ace comes another March trade paperback, Deep In the Woods, the sixth "Vampire Babylon" novel from Chris Marie Green. A historical series about vampires in ancient Babylon would probably be really cool, but this isn't that; it's a modern-day urban fantasy, complete with a tough heroine who switched jobs from stuntwoman to vampire-killer and who wears lots of skin-tight leather on her book covers.

Matthew Skelton, whose first novel was the well-received Endymion Spring back in 2006, has returned with The Story of Cirrus Flux, a story of derring-do and scientific adventure in 1783 London. For those of you who think that books for younger readers have cooties, I must unfortunately inform you that this is officially a "middle grade" novel, so you'll have to avoid it, along with many other sources of pleasure and enjoyment in this world. For the rest of us, this is an adventure story set during the Enlightenment, an interesting period of history, and concerning an orphan and foundling who has a secret locket containing the Breath of God. Cirrus Flux will be published in hardcover by Delacorte on February 23rd.

And last for this week is the new Tad Williams novel Shadowrise, third in the "Shadowmarch" series (which has suddenly become a tetralogy, as Williams's usual last-book expansiveness blew out the stops on what should have been the third part of a trilogy). DAW will publish it in hardcover on March 2nd, and I'm afraid I can't tell you much more about it than that; the last Williams books I read were the Otherland series. (They had their good parts, certainly, but I read all of them on deadline and they were so immense that I couldn't help but resent them.) I do note, on a slightly different matter, that the cover is by Todd Lockwood, which may mean that Michael Whelan isn't doing any book covers any more -- the last few that he's done, over the past decade, have been nearly all for DAW, and he was Williams's standard cover artist for the last three decades.
Listening to: Class Actress - Careful What You Say
via FoxyTunes


Unknown said...

As the person who named her, I promise that there's a good reason for Toby's name, and that she's probably more irritated about it than you are. (I also named her after a girl I went to high school with, although the original Toby had an even worse last name. Growing up in California gives you about what is and is not an appropriate name for a human being.)

My human protagonists (in a different series) are named Shaun and Georgia, if that helps at all.

Anonymous said...

FYI and FWIW, Rob Thurman is a woman. Yeah, I was surprised, too.

Jeff P.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Jeff P.: You didn't have to be surprised -- the copyright is clearly in the name of "Robyn." (I checked, but didn't think it worth mentioning above; though, thinking again, it is odd for a woman to hide under a neutral name in such a female-dominated subgenre as urban fantasy. Perhaps the thinking is that readers don't like it when girls write about boys?)

Crescent Dragonwagon said...

Well, before you take your gloves off, or put them on, you might want to check the story of how I wound up with this more than admittedly dumb-ass name...

Jessica Strider said...

FYI, Cal's other half (in Roadkill) is Aelph (ie, elf). But these aren't your traditional fairytale elves. They're monsters with teeth that like to kill and can teleport. It's a nifty take on a traditional idea. And from what I can tell (though comments from readers and from her blog), guys take male writers more seriously when the protagonists are male and consider female written urban fantasy to be more 'romance' driven. Which it often is. Thurman's books have limited romance and are very action oriented.

Adele said...

There is a very good reason for being called October Daye, it's a fae thing. I loved Rosemary and Rue.

Rob Thurmans' new series has her photo in the back so the gender mystery is out in the open, I wonder if it was a tactical decscion because her writing is more like the male authors in the genre (which it is).

i loved Death's daughter in spite of my concerns so am looking forward to Cat's Claw.

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