Monday, May 31, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/29

Given the usual traffic patterns on the Internet, I expect fewer of you than usual will be reading this on Monday, when it posts, since Monday is a national holiday here in the US, and many of us have better things to do than read blogs on a holiday. (Not that I'm judging those of you who don't have anything better to do on a holiday than read blog, or even those of you so benighted as to live somewhere else in the world.) Still, I do this post every Monday morning, and I see no reason to stop now.

These are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week (plus a couple that I picked up at the disappointingly small and giveaway-less Book Expo America convention on Thursday) -- I haven't read any of them yet, and some of them I may never end up reading, for one reason or another. But here's what I can tell you about them right now, from looking at them and making wild assumptions.

Pyr seems to be quietly amassing an interesting list in the dark fantasy/swords & sorcery area -- which shouldn't be a surprise, since editor Lou Anders has made no secret of his love for that side of the genre -- which is leading me to think I should be reading more of it. The latest case in point is Jon Sprunk's first novel, Shadow's Son, about an assassin named Caim in the holy city off Othir, and what happens when one routine job goes bad. It officially publishes next week in trade paperback, so you might be able to find it from your favorite bookseller already.

Jonathan Rosenberg's Goats webcomic gets its third collection with Showcase Showdown, published by Del Rey as a trade paperback last week. Rosenberg recently made comics-press news with a blog post about the "stagnation" of the audience growth of his "teenaged" Goats strip, and how he might need to end Goats earlier than this original plan (aiming at 2012) for financial reasons. (Since I'm always looking on the bleak side of life, I do have to note that Rosenberg assumes that a new strip would have a larger audience, and that's not necessarily the case -- he's a funny writer, and a good cartoonist, but audiences are fickle and buzz is elusive; there's no guarantee that his next project would be even as lucrative as Goats, let alone more so.) From Rosenberg's uneasiness, and my own researches, it's pretty clear that the first two Goats books -- Infinite Typewriters and The Corndog Imperative -- haven't sold as well as anyone hoped. (The numbers I can see in the standard book-industry tracking system are so dismal that I'm hoping the Goats books moved a substantial quantity through Diamond into comics shops, or through any other channels, just because I like his stuff.) I've reviewed both of the earlier books, and enjoyed them a lot -- Rosenberg has a quirky, deeply geeky sense of humor and complication that could be very popular if it clicked with the right audience -- so I hope that things will get better for him and Goats.

Witches Incorporated is the second book in the "Rogue Agent" series from K.E. Mills (who is also, not secretly at all, the epic fantasy author Karen Miller), after The Accidental Sorcerer, which I didn't see. I think it's contemporary fantasy set in the UK -- there's a lot of Brit slang in the first few pages -- but the back cover doesn't entirely make that clear, and there's a "Princess Melissande" running about as well. (Cue up my usual lecture here about how the descriptive copy for later books in a series has to work doubly hard -- it can't just hit the names of the main characters and explain what they're doing now, but needs to place a book clearly in context and explain why a random reader would want it.) This was published, if I'm reading the copyright page correctly, last summer, but the Orbit team was cheerfully pushing it on passers-by at BEA -- presumably since book three, Wizard Squared, will hit stores in about a month.

Also from Orbit is The Unit by Terry DeHart, which will hit stores in about a month. It's a post-apocalyptic story about one California family, in which the author "draws on his own research and experience as a Marien, a security analyst for NASA, and a disaster preparedness consultant." If I may, I'd translate that all to "stuff blows up real good." (It also seems to be from the POV of the hard-as-nails father of this family, who is proven right about the essential perfidy of man -- and his wife's softer impulses proven wrong -- on the teaser page, so adjust your expectations appropriately.) For those of you who like near-future backswing stories -- and you know who you are -- here's one from a writer who knows his stuff. But, as usual, I would suggest reading John Varley's "The Manhattan Telephone Book (Abridged)" before partaking in any post-apocalyptic adventure novels.

To switch gears entirely, here's Fairy Navigator Runa, Vol. 1, a manga from Miyoko Ikeda and Michiyo Kikuta about a abandoned baby who grew up -- well, not that far up; she's only in fourth grade as the story starts -- to be the Legendary Fairy Child. It's from Del Rey Manga, and was published May 25th.

And last for this week is Jacqueline Carey's new brick-sized novel Naamah's Curse. It's the second in a trilogy set in the same fictional world as her "Kushiel" books, though it seems to mostly take place at the other end of the Eurasian continent. (I read the first "Kushiel" trilogy, and Carey's interestingly flawed Silmarillion-from-the-bad-guy's-perspective "Sundering" duology, but I haven't kept up with her last few books, so I'm not precisely sure how this fits into the Kushiel world.) Grand Central is publishing this in hardcover on June 14th.
Listening to: The Builders And The Butchers - Devil Town
via FoxyTunes


Ray said...

Why did you crop the Witches Incorporated cover like that? I can't see her abs at all, and have no idea what kind of sword she's carrying.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Ray: You're right -- that cover does tend to argue against Witches Incorporated being urban fantasy; she's not showing nearly enough skin.

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