Monday, April 26, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/24

Once again, these are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week -- I haven't yet read any of them, but here's what I can tell you about them from a cursory glance and my towering a priori knowledge of everything in the physical universe:

Brendan Connell publishes a lot of short stories in various odd and quirky venues -- both individually, in magazines, and as slim books from various respectable but little-known presses. He wrote me recently to ask if he could send me a book, and that's why I have Metrophilias, a collection of thirty-six very short stories about cities, in front of me. About two-thirds of the stories were originally published elsewhere, but they were very scattered, in such outlets as TEL: Stories and The Sink and Sacred Naked Magazine and Idiot's Manifesto. This assemblage -- which has no cover copy or introduction to explain or define it -- was published in March by San Diego's Better Non Squitur.

Mark Chadbourn's The Devil in Green is the beginning of "The Dark Age," his follow-up series to "The Age of Misrule," in which the ancient Celtic gods re-awoke and plunged the world into chaos (and, reading between the lines, megadeath). I probably won't read this myself -- I have a long-standing objection to contemporary or near-future books that use the mass murder of my family and myself to motivate its action -- but don't let my quibbles stop you. Pyr will publish The Devil in Green on May 4th in trade paperback -- and I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the series follows quickly, since this was originally published in the UK in 2002.

Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion is one of those trendy "steampunk" novels, with a stylish bronze cover sporting the inevitable Zeppelin. On the other hand, it's also about a greeting-card writer imprisoned for life on that very Zeppelin, writing his memoirs and accompanied only by his love Miranda's disembodied voice and the cryogenically frozen body of Miranda's father Prospero. (If your name is Prospero, and you have a daughter, you must name her Miranda -- it's in the U.S. Code somewhere. I saw a similar case in the Times this morning, where Persephone, the daughter of an actress named Delphi, was getting married.) There are so few novels about greeting-card writers to begin with that I can't help but feel warmly towards this one, which was published in hardcover by St. Martin's Press in March.

Speaking of steampunk -- as I was -- Pinion is the third novel in Jay Lake's series about a clockwork solar system ruled by Queen Victoria, after Mainspring and Escapement. It was published in hardcover by Tor on March 30th.

And here's a book I never thought I'd see: Norman Spinrad's big novel He Walked Among Us, which has a SF author as a main character but isn't, from what I've seen of Spinrad's public comments about it, SF itself. It was originally published in French close to a decade ago, and has been available in electronic editions in English (sometimes for free) since then -- but this is the first time that it's been in print in English. He Walked is the story of a stand-up comedian who claims to be from an eco-devastated future, sent back to warn all of mankind -- and I've heard widely varying reports of how well it all works. But now He Walks is free in the world, and we can all make up our own minds about it -- it was published by Tor in hardcover at the end of March.

And last for this week is the Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia, by Phil Jimenez and John Wells, which has everything you'd ever want to know about Wonder Woman (versions I through XI, and including Wonder Tor and several versions of Wonder Girl) between two covers. It will be published by Del Rey tomorrow, April 27th, as a huge trade paperback. I don't know who needs to know this much about Wondy, but, if that's you, you're in luck.

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